As 2018 comes to a close, it’s the perfect time to work on your 2019 marketing strategy. With a new year comes new marketing trends, opportunities, and hopefully great ideas (an afternoon with puppies, anyone??).
It’s also the perfect time to re-evaluate what’s working and make plans to do more of it.
As you’re re-working your marketing strategy for 2019, one thing you should make a priority is getting more online reviews. As a local business, online reviews are a fool-proof way to gain more customers. After all, it’s like word-of-mouth – but online!
But when other marketing trends look so appealing, is it really that important to focus on something that isn’t at the top of “Marketing Trends for 2019” lists?
Yes, and here’s why:
1. Online reviews are tried-and-true
When you’re looking for a new sushi place to try, where do you search? You might text your friend – the sushi aficionado who somehow has the time and money to visit every Japanese restaurant within 50 miles. But, if you don’t have that go-to friend or you’re just looking for something unbiased, you probably turn to Yelp or Google.
As you scroll through the list of options, you’ll likely base your decision on a number of criteria: how far away it is, how much it costs, and what the average rating is.
If one catches your eye, you’re going to look a little deeper and read through a few reviews, searching for anything that specifically calls out a favorite dish or how many food poisoning comments there are.
In other words, your online search for your next meal will work just as well, if not better, than chatting with a friend.
For nearly all of history, the most reliable marketing method has been – and will probably always be – word-of-mouth. We trust our friends and, for the most part, know they won’t lead us astray; so, if they recommend something, it’s probably pretty good.
Yet, with the rise of the Internet’s popularity, online reviews have become almost as credible as our best friend’s suggestion. In fact, research shows 91% of people read reviews and 84% trust them as much as a personal recommendation.
2. They’re a key part of your online reputation
Reputation is extremely important. The dentist who has a reputation for accidentally stabbing people in the mouth? He probably won’t stay in business for long. The restaurant that routinely serves free appetizers with their main course? They’ll keep customers coming back for more.
As people rely more and more on the Internet to get their facts and opinions, managing your business’ online reputation becomes more important than ever. This includes monitoring mentions of your brand, engaging with your customers on social media, and making online reviews a key part of your marketing strategy.
Doing so requires active engagement, including:
- Asking your customers to leave online reviews (no matter how nerve-wracking it might be at first)
- Responding to your reviews – even the negative ones
- Staying away from buying reviews online
- Making sure you don’t scare away your customers when asking them for their feedback
The more you stay on top of your online reputation, the more likely it will serve to get you more business and better customers. Who doesn’t want that??
3. They help your local SEO ranking
As technology gets smarter and content marketing grows in popularity, the rules around SEO and how to get your website ranked at the top of the search results are changing.
Tactics like keyword stuffing that used to work just a few years ago won’t help your website now – and in fact, may actually hurt your ranking.
Instead, search engines love content that helps its users finds the answers to their questions in a way that’s as natural as possible. In other words, if your content helps potential customers solve their problems and is written in natural language, you will also have a higher chance of ranking higher in search results.
What better way to do this than through online reviews? When your customers write their feedback, the likelihood is they’re not concerned with search engines or SEO; they’re just writing what’s on their mind and using words they would normally use in conversation. That’s local SEO gold.
To get more local SEO results out of your reviews, consider the following:
- Train your employees around what you want to be known for (want reviews about your great customer service? Make sure your employees are trained to perform as such!)
- Respond to each review (noticing a trend here, yet?)
- Choose the right review platform (Yelp, Facebook, Google, etc.)
- Get a variety of reviews
- Make it easy for your customers to privately complain
With our app, it’s easy to send a link to the review right on the spot, even if you operate in multiple locations. Once your employees have downloaded it, they can send a custom link to your customers’ phones within seconds of completing their transaction.
Not only does this give you a better chance of getting that Google review even before they leave, but you will also be able to capitalize on the personal connection that your employees have established with the customer.