We get it: Pushing for praise—online or otherwise—for your small business isn’t your favorite job. After all, you and your customers have a special relationship, built on the services you offer them. Asking for something in return just…isn’t done.
- They highlight positive aspects of your business that your customers experience, including ones that you might not otherwise consider advertising.
- They allow prospective customers to learn about you via “word of mouth,” rather than only hearing from the company itself.
- They give your customers and clients a chance to feel like they’re contributing to your success.
- And they foster your business’s very own sense of community—something at the heart of the Appalachian mindset and a key characteristic of the very best local small businesses here.
And don’t you worry: Encouraging, gathering and displaying online reviews can be done in a way that won’t make anyone feel awkward or obligated. That is, if you’ve got the right High Country Digital Marketing team managing your online presence.
What are Online Reviews?
Online reviews will exist whether or not you choose to acknowledge them, kind of like an online water cooler or message post where people can share ideas about your business.
That might sound scary! But they’re actually awesome, because when presented with the chance to “report on” a personal experience, most people want to demonstrate just how well they know the facts as they experienced them.
And when your business is as awesome as yours is, we want to spread the word.
Honest, Organic Online Marketing
The first thing about reviews is their organic sincerity. While we, as your marketing team, rely on our relationship with you, the company manager, to guide our marketing efforts, online reviews round out our marketing efforts so that they stand out to the people you most want to attract—ie, your potential customers.
That’s because these brief, easy marketing nuggets will always reflect the experiences of your customers, rather than just serving as a mouthpiece for only what people think you want them to see.
Yes, people want to know what a small business owner or manager has to say about their own company. But they also want to hear from customers who’ve had first-hand customer experiences. When those customer experiences validate what you’ve been saying, it generates a sense of trustworthiness around your business.
Free “Word of Mouth” > An Avalanche of Ad Spending
Look at it this way: You can spend money putting out all the ads you want that say, “Our gizmos are the best gizmos in western North Carolina!” People could possibly remember your business’s name, and they might be curious about your gizmos, but they probably won’t just take your word for it.
But if Bob B. from Boone writes a review that says, “Wow, I’ve tried gizmos from Banner Elk to Sugar Mountain, and these gizmos really are the best,” then people will be more inclined to believe that these are high-quality gizmos.
So How Do You Promote Online Reviews (without Annoying Anybody)?
This is where your digital marketing team can do some real magic.
The two biggest ways to promote reviews is to;
- make your existing reviews easy to find and read.
- make the process of leaving a review easy to do.
Web design and social media will make both of these things happen.
Your business’s web page menu(s) can (and should) include an option simply labeled “Reviews” or “Praise and Kudos” or the like. This will lead to a page that looks something like this.
NOTE: When we create this page for your website, it will automatically aggregate your company’s online reviews and display them in chronological order, with the most recent ones appearing first.
We can then highlight this page, as well as individual reviews, in your social media campaigns:
Likewise, we can systematically suggest, through your social media accounts, that current customers leave reviews sharing their recent positive experiences with your company. In other words, good reviews beget more good reviews.
What About Bad Reviews?
Believe us when we say that (unless you have a serious problem within your systems that needs to be addressed) bad reviews are very very rare. If they happen to a business that is already encouraging and collecting positive reviews, the trolls tend to get drowned out pretty easily.
However, it’s also worth saying that the occasional bad note can be a blessing—customers who feel free to report a bad experience can bring shortcomings to your attention while providing you with a very public opportunity to show how you respond to such issues. If it turns out the bad review is reasonable and based in fact, you can respond with your proposed remedies, thus furthering your own company’s public trustworthiness and overall good reputation.
In other words, online reviews are a virtually free way to promote a tidal wave of support and positive online presence. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of that?