There’s no growth in an entrepreneurial enterprise without engaging new customers, but most small businesses don’t have the capital or the manpower to benefit from professional marketing tactics. As a service contractor, it can be challenging to find ways to engage customers that don’t involve a significant investment of time, money, and resources.
One way in which entrepreneurs like you, a Sunscape dealer, can augment their marketing strategy is to leverage online reviews. Between your own website, Angie’s List, Yelp, Google Plus, and Citysearch, it’s hard not to find a place to start considering reviews. Some recent studies reveal that the majority of customers and consumers trust online reviews as deeply as they trust a personal referral.
It’s also important to remember that social media offers a wealth of tools to help you generate reviews. Facebook for Business is a great platform to generate and manage reviews, as well as to communicate important updates to customers. There’s even a lot of tools or other apps to share reviews to your social media platforms, such as Yelp’s one-tap sharing to Facebook and Twitter.
When you consider this fact in line with the statistic that nearly 90 percent of customers say that online reviews influence their buying decision, you begin to see that engaging with reviewers isn’t optional. Let’s take a closer look at the reasons for leveraging online reviews, and then we’ll consider some techniques to improve your sales and marketing platform.
Why Do We Leverage Online Reviews?
First, referrals come from reviews, which is good for business. The ever-widening world of online reviews has opened vast new avenues for word-of-mouth advertising, offering a powerful channel for free advertising for your business. Online reviews also give your small business a local credibility, and that authenticity will inspire confidence in your team and drive sales.
Secondly, online review sites offer a platform to respond to negative reviews. Negative reviews can be disheartening, especially in the early days of a new enterprise, but they don’t need to damage your reputation. Many independent hotel owners on review platforms like TripAdvisor take the time to respond to every single review, good or bad.
While you can’t just delete the reviews you don’t like, it’s worth the time to respond to poor reviews with humility and grace, and offer a solution to your unhappy customer. Subsequently, you can earn more positive reviews by encouraging customers past and present to post feedback about their experience. Often people will interpret your wealth of positive reviews to be an accurate portrait of your business, and see the negative review as an outlier.
Engage, Respond, Monitor.
Just as face-to-face interactions build trust, encouraging online customer reviews creates a sense of community. Professionally trained, licensed, and insured Sunscape dealers know that engaging with customers is just one part of being a responsible neighbor in the community. Responding to questions posed by potential customers boosts your credibility, demonstrates your professionalism, and shows the people of your community that you have their best interests at heart.
Monitoring reviews on a regular basis gives you a better idea as to what people are saying about your business. Angie’s List is pretty much the gold standard for home-based and small business contractors, but you can also check out Yelp and less well-known platforms like HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack, and Houzz, as well as other sites that are relevant to your business. It’s also useful to set a Google Alert with the name of your business. At more advanced levels, you can also check out Glassdoor to see if current or former employers have said anything online about your business.
How Do We Leverage Online Reviews?
Now that we know how important it is to leverage online reviews, let’s look at the nuts and bolts of managing your online presence. How you look online and in reviews is how customers will find you, judge you, and tell others about your services. Try these methods to encourage your customers to take action.
First, it’s important to pay attention to the reviews you already have. These positive reflections of your business can be leveraged in advertising, customer testimonials, and other opportunities. Conversely, you only have one chance to make a first impression, so be sure to resolve any problematic reviews before pursuing new reviews. Any reviews on Facebook for Business should also be addressed directly.
Secondly, you won’t get online reviews if you don’t ask for online reviews. There’s nothing wrong with asking for reviews. You can think of it this way—surely some customers appreciate how they have been treated, and asking for a review gives them an opportunity to demonstrate that appreciation. Each time a customer expressed their satisfaction with your team’s work, ask them to share that experience. If they agree, you can give them more detail about how to share online reviews, ratings, and testimonials.
However, it’s also important to effectively use those reviews. Search engines like Google are effective at giving higher visibility to companies that are attracting lots of reviews, but it’s not always easy for customers to leave reviews. That’s why it’s important to take the time to use review platforms effectively. You can check out some online guides on how to get Google reviews easier, Yelp for Business Owners, and Angie’s List Business Center to get you started.
Next you need to think like a customer. That means taking the time to find out where and how potential customers are hearing about you online. The most basic search is to do a Google search on yourself. You can get the best results by entering the name of your firm in quotation marks, and then adding “window films,” “Madico” or “Sunscape“. It’s worth playing around with different variations as well. A Google search for “window films” and “Tampa” and “review” will turn up different results than “window film” and “Tampa” and “review”, curiously enough.
You can also try adding the word “review.” So your initial search might be something like “Performance Window Tinting” and “review.” This search will immediately pull up reviews from sites like Angie’s List and Yelp, as well as other review platforms of which you might not know. You can also check out a list of the most popular consumer review sites here.
Finally, many entrepreneurs think that they’re too busy to be on social media all the time, or that platforms like Facebook and Twitter are a waste of valuable time. That’s why it’s important to use social media in a smart way. Set aside a block of time to create your social media content and then use an application like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, or Sprout Social to schedule your social media posts throughout the week. That way, even if you’re out on a job, your social media is still helping spread customer testimonials and reviews, and attracting new business. Take note that these tools include powerful analytics reporting functions, to help you see how your social media lands with your audience.
Asking for online reviews is a great habit for any entrepreneur or service provider, and new reviews can make a big difference in attracting new customers. As you continue to ask your best customers to write reviews, encourage independent reviews, and feature customers on your website and social media, you’ll be well on your way to optimizing your strategy for leveraging online reviews for success.