69% of local consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. And 67% of local consumers will be reading your online reviews before choosing you. How did this happen? In the past people used to ask their friends for a reference when they needed something now they can get just about the same results by going to the web even faster.
Reviews vs. Testimonials
The difference between a review and a testimonials is who collects the customers experience and where that experience will display. If a customer shares their experience with you this is a testimonial because you collect the experience and you post it typically on your website. A review would be someone hops on Google+ or kudzu, logs in and drops a star rating with a comment. The third party website (typically a directory site) is the collector and they display it typical on their website. This adds an added level of trust and a greater reach to new potential customers because Google for instance displays star ratings display right in their results. What this means to you is now the customers circle of influence and potential to send referral business is increases to the whole internet potentially.
A successful review program will do these three things sustainably
- Ask for a review
- Provide the easiest way for leaving a review possible
- Gain customer contact information
Asking for a review is important. You probably already do so but with no success ongoing. Actually asking when the customer is most happy about their purchase has proven to increase customer reviews. But when coupled with a follow up medium such as an email that provides a link to your Google+ or yelp listing then you have a sustainable program. This is sustainable because you have now made it easy for them to do what you just committed them to do. I’ve herd of a car dealership that gets at least a 10% response rate. Do you think they get more business because of this, you bet they do.
Here are 6 potential mediums you could use to solicit reviews and what is necessary to do so.
Needs customers contact information
· Phone call & follow up email
· Postcard or thanks you letter
Happens in person or in store
· Hand out
· Card tent
· Website widget (How to, Informative,Direct, WordPress Plugin & Funnel)
· Email signature
6 biggest mistakes companies make when going for reviews
- Asking a bunch of people all at once to review them
- Posting reviews for others or hiring a company to do this for them
- Asking for a review but not making it easy
- Not responding to reviews bad or good
- Trying to incentivize reviews
- Never asking for a review
How Important Are Reviews to Your SEO?
At least for a local business reviews that take place in Google+/Local platform it’s the 7th most important factor for local SEO. And once you get 5 or more reviews on Google+ Local your eligible to have your start rating show right in the search results. This is almost an unfair advantage. So if you are having trouble getting kick started ask a few of your local business friends to leave you a review from their Google Plus page.
Tools / Tips
Place your reviews on your website in Schema review markup. Google, Bing & Yahoo came together on this. This is number 82 in the local ranking factors. Here is an example of using Schema for reviews. Once on your website Google has provided a neat tool to test your Schema markup to see if it works properly.