Marketing with Testimonies

 

Two weeks ago I was being interviewed by a West Coast reporter* and her questions were about the marketing power of reviews and testimoniesWhat follows is a synopsis of why you should be managing and marketing with reviews.  [*You can read the article here:   http://www.smallbusinesscomputing.com ]

Matt Cutts, online marketing expert and Senior Engineer at Google says, “Reputation Management is the easiest way to affect your rankings on a Google Search result.”

The fact is, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and local marketing doesn’t work very well if you have bad reviews online.

In a recent study—2011 Nielson Global Trust in Advertising Survey—72% of buyers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations!

That study proves that online reviews are nearly as powerful for persuasion as recommendations from people you personally know.

Trust-Factor-Ranking-Online-Reputation-Marketing

So if good, 5-star online reviews can improve your search rankings and your conversions (read: put money in your bank account!) then…why aren’t more businesses proactively
working at getting them?

1. Business owners don’t know that reviews of their business already exist online.

A simple online search for any Company + City can reveal your online reviews. Reviews can show up in Adwords ads, organic listings, Google Map listings, and other directory listings.

Even if you have a Google alert set up to let you know when your business is mentioned online (and you Should!)  a review won’t show up if the reviewer doesn’t use your company name in their review.

If this is all new to you, just know that you may already have online reviews, good or bad, on sites like Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Merchant Circle, Yahoo, Google+, Manta, YellowPages, LinkedIn, InsiderPages, Local.com and many, many more. 

2. Business owners don’t understand just how powerful reviews can be.

Did you know?

     · Up to 87% of consumers research you online before they buy?
     · A 2011 Harvard Business School Study says “A one-star increase among reviews on Yelp….led to a 5 to 9 percent growth in revenue”?

And negative reviews have a tremendous impact:

     · A 2009 Convergys Corp. study revealed: “A Single Negative Online Review Can Cost the Average Business an Average Loss of 30 Customers
     · A 2011 Cone Online Influence Report found that 80% of those surveyed said that NEGATIVE online information changed their mind about purchasing a product or service

We all understand that ‘word of mouth’ is the #1 most powerful form of advertising. But to finish Ben Franklin’s quote in the new way, “It takes many good deeds to build a reputation, and…” it takes between 1 and 3 bad reviews to deter 67% of shoppers from purchasing from you!

3. Business owners don’t have a viable strategy to manage and MARKET their 5-star reviews.

We’re not just talking about reputation management. Reputation management is a defensive strategy. What we are talking about is Reputation Marketing.

Consumers look up an average of 10 reviews before making a decision. And 70% of consumers trust a business with 6-10 reviews.

So savvy entrepreneurs should strive to develop a “reputation marketing culture”—in other words, a system to proactively gain and promote a 5-Star Reputation. How?

Step 1: Be 5-star worthy! 

Fix the disconnects and the failings in your product or customer service so that your company deserves a great reputation.

Step 2:  Ask for reviews!

Ask your best clients and provide a prominent Private Review page on your website—a place to vent or to brag on your company.  Here’s an example of a review page and you can see the article for more ideas:  http://www.smallbusinesscomputing.com

 Step 3: Market the 4 and 5-star reviews on your website.

Place the reviews prominently on your site. You have only about 3 seconds to grab and keep your website visitors, so use your front page to say what you do and prove your value in the marketplace. Use reviews in revolving ‘widgets’ on all the other pages of your site if you can. Share some 4-star ‘imperfect’ reviews too so your reviews don’t look too canned or phony.

Step 4: Promote it.

Encourage your best reviewers to share their experience on public review sites like those mentioned before, specifically Google +, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Step 5: Train it.

Create a reputation marketing culture. Get your staff and your entire business on board. Teach them that ‘they way we treat our customers gets us more customers.’ Enlist their help in garnering reviews and watch their customer service improve just knowing that they can and will be reviewed!

Here are some ways to ask for reviews:  place a ‘Leave a Review’ tab in your website’s menu bar; use website graphics (like the one shown here)Reviews-Baltimore-MD that invite reviews; ask for reviews in Email/autoresponder messages; give clients a way to text their review to a special phone number; place a QR Code on business cards, signs, posters and postcards that leads them to your ‘Leave a Review’ page; even offer IPads (with your review form showing) to place in client’s hands while they are still at your venue and kindly ask for a review.

However you encourage and manage your reviews, remember that great online reviews send you prequalified, presold customers. What could be better than that?