Formulating a local review strategy for your business is an integral part of any local SEO campaign. In simplest terms, a review strategy seeks to tap into your customer base and encourage them to write an honest review of their experience for your business.
Why are customer reviews important?
A local review strategy is important because it can act as a catalyst for repeat business. By obtaining regular positive reviews from your customers, you showcase the quality of the business itself and attract new business to come and try you out.
Before the internet, this method of marketing was handled via WOM (word of mouth), and whilst that technique is still very much alive and well, the likes of TripAdvisor and Yelp have come to the fore to really bring momentum to local businesses looking to expand their customer base.
BrightLocal conducted a Local Consumer Review Survey in 2014, and some key findings are as follows:
- 88% of people trust online customer reviews as much as a personal recommendation
- 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
- 57% of consumers will visit a local business website after reading a positive review
In addition to generating more reviews for your business and increasing interest, a review strategy should also be utilised to get in touch with your customers. Every review made about your business should be responded to by a customer service manager (or equivalent) from your business. This demonstrates to your customers that you care about their feedback, and their experience.
Recommendation: When responding to reviews, you should touch on something specific that the customer has mentioned – and either highlight their positive comments OR address their criticisms. e.g. A hotel operator may receive a review that is critical of their shortage of towels. A constructive response from the hotel operator could be to thank the customer for their feedback, and reassure them that this particular concern has been addressed (Just a note: Don’t lie. Only reassure where positive steps have actually been taken). Perhaps the hotel operator has changed linen suppliers or increased their laundering frequency. Whatever steps have been taken to improve the business based on the customers feedback should be communicated to that customer (which in turn, is communicated to your entire audience).
By broadcasting your willingness to listen to your customers, you will appeal to them as a business that they want to get involved with. Even if their experience may not be positive, you have the opportunity to turn that around and win that customer (and others) back to the fold.
NB: Whilst encouraging reviews is recommended, there is a fine line that shouldn’t be crossed. Never incentivise reviews. Do not reward (via monetary recompense, discounts, vouchers or freebies) your customers for positive reviews. Why? Because it taints the nature of the review itself, which is to give your business an honest review and/or feedback based on that customers experience. If you have incentivised reviews, then the reviews can no longer be trusted. Also, if you are caught incentivising (by search engines, platforms such as Yelp, or your customers) your business will lose all credibility and could take a long time to recover from its fraudulent behaviour. Let your customers do the reviewing, just encourage them to write their opinion NOT yours.
NAPtastic can build a compelling review strategy for your local business to encourage your customers to review your business, and generate repeat sales and new business momentum.