Have you ever thought about the difference between “smart” and “wise?”
There are a few clever sayings about the difference between intelligence and wisdom. One of my favorites is, “a smart person knows that a tomato is a fruit, but a wise person knows not to put one in a fruit salad.”
Although Word Of Mouth remains the most trusted, most effective and smartest form of marketing, it has taken a new form in the last few years. Instead of sharing their opinion with a neighbor “over the back fence,” people go online to write reviews of local businesses.
The wise business owner will recognize those changes and will have a plan to take advantage of them. Let’s discuss why it’s important and what you can do about it.
Today’s Word Of Mouth is important because when people are considering using a local business, nearly all of us go online to read reviews of that business. The trigger for such research can be anything from seeing advertising to getting a referral from a friend.
That’s why when you have a good number of positive, recent reviews, it tends to make your marketing work better. Yelp has stated that a one-star rating increase results in a 5% to 9% rise in revenue.
Also, buyers are likely to spend 31% more with a business that has “excellent” reviews. Why? Because the business has earned trust in the marketplace. It just feels safer.
Conversely, marketing a business with visible bad reviews is basically giving your competitors free advertising. When shoppers see bad reviews, they go looking for more appealing options.
Local business reviews are very widely read, are highly trusted, and directly impact buying decisions. Here are a few highlights from BrightLocal’s 2015 Local Consumer Review Survey:
Nielsen Company (the TV ratings people) research recently showed that 90% of consumers trust reviews, as opposed to the 33% of consumers who actually respond to or have trust in ads.
Google reviews are the best place to focus if you want to grow your business with Word of Mouth. They are the most widely-read reviews on the Internet, and the associated star rating is the #1 way consumers judge the quality of local businesses.
Google reviews simply can’t be ignored. You can’t “opt out” of Google reviews (unless you also choose to be unlisted in Google), so it’s important to have a plan in place to get positive Google reviews for your business.
And the last thing you want is to have only the angry people care enough to bother with writing a review!
In the last three and a half years of helping businesses with online reviews, I’ve noticed the following hallmarks of a successful review building system:
Ease of use: This goes for the business as well as the consumer. I have our clients take less than ten seconds to ask a customer for a review, and the entire review experience for the customer must be less than two minutes.
Review reminders: Although nearly every happy customer will say they will write a review, the fact of the matter is they will get bogged down by the demands of their own lives and often forget. They must be politely reminded.
Google-centric focus: There are lots of services that want to collect and list reviews on their own websites, but none of them are nearly as effective as a Google review from a real customer. Don’t make the mistake of paying to have reviews on a website with unknown visibility that may also display advertising for your competitors.
While there is an incredible upside to online reviews, they can be a double-edged sword. Who might be unhappy enough with you to write something bad about your business? The list is almost embarrassingly long:
Bad reviews will cause you to lose business. Research has shown that one negative review can cost the average business about 30 customers. That’s not just thirty sales you won’t be making due to negative Word of Mouth, it’s all the sales that would come from those 30 people!
Unfortunately, business owners rarely have a sense of this because nobody is going to call you to say they felt more secure doing business with someone else, and they just wanted you to know about it.
Even if you don’t have any bad reviews in Google today, you need to have a plan in mind about how you would handle it. I’ve extended this post with a 6-minute video on how to quickly and easily handle a bad Google review (no sign-up required):
Take the few minutes right now to learn how to protect yourself. 86% of people will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews.