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Tag: Building Online Trustworthiness (Page 2 of 4)

How Consumers Use Reviews Online

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When you’re searching online to find the perfect restaurant to try out on Friday night, the last place you’ll choose is one with zero online presence. In the information age that is exactly what people are looking for: information. They want to see photos, other customer’s opinions, and maybe even a virtual tour if you have a physical storefront. These days, 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more, with 94% saying they’ll use a business if it has at least a four-star rating.

On average, a one-star increase on Yelp leads to a five to nine percent increase in revenue, with just one negative review costing you 30 customers. Reviews are the best way to hold a business accountable. Consumers look for reliability, expertise and professionalism, and if you cannot practice these they’ll let you know.

So, if negative reviews are so dangerous, why collect reviews at all? Well, a couple negative reviews are better than no reviews at all, so long as you’ve got some positive ones going on as well. When negative reviews occur, respond quickly, admit to any errors, reiterate your company’s mission and if possible and warranted, provide compensation.

When a consumer looks at or leaves reviews online, they’re looking to:

Find the best business for their needs

Build trust

Express themselves

Help other consumers

Here are some more numbers to help you understand the benefits of reviews:

92% of consumers read online reviews

68% say positive reviews make them trust a business more

Only14% of consumers will use a business with a one- or two-star rating, whereas 94% would use one with a five-star rating

80% of consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations

Online reviews are probably the most important tool for a modern business. You can gain them with skill by requesting them from loyal customers and publicly thanking positive reviewers while apologizing to those who had a bad experience.

A business with active reviews on websites like Google, Yelp and Foursquare will get a boost in SEO making their online presence skyrocket and produce tangible results in the form of an 18% uplift in sales.

Now more than ever, consumers want to see that business’ are run by real people, not robots. By interacting through reviews, you are showing that you care enough about your customers to take a moment out of your day to leave a personalized response to their opinion, and being able to do that is massively beneficial to any business. The last thing the 2017 consumer wants is to deal with a business that is unreachable.

Reviews impact search ranking, too. In 2014 Google updated its search engine to take into consideration the reviews from popular sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. So, if you’re actively getting your customers to leave reviews for your business, you’ll get more business, guaranteed. This sets off a chain reaction to in turn produce more reviews and more new customers.

Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews and interact with customers. It’s the only way your business is going to grow and survive. Give the gift of communication, and your consumers will most definitely give back!

How Online Reviews Impact Your Local SEO

More and more businesses are realizing the importance of online reviews when it comes to promoting their product or service, but did you know reviews also affect your Search Engine Optimization? SEO is just as crucial to the promotion of a business in 2017 because it means a boost in your ranking. For example, if someone is searching for a hair salon there are many options. But if you have the best SEO, they’ll find you first.

When you’re trying to beef up your SEO online reviews are critical to this process. Search engines love fresh user generated content, and customers love social proof. In fact, 90% of customers say their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.

Search engines like Google or Bing are in the business of creating fast and accurate search results, and the input from real people in the form of reviews is a great way to do this. In a recent study by Moz it was determined that reviews make up 10% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank results.

Factors that can play into your business’ SEO include a variety of signals such as linking, keywords and categories, with reviews coming in before social media in terms of boosting your business!

Google favors high-rated sites, and in a world where customers spend 31% more on a business with good reviews, you’ll want to get a review gathering strategy in place if you don’t already have one!

A good way to do this is request that happy customers leave a review. If you’re selling online, include your request in a thank you email. At a physical store, create a flyer you can drop in a customer’s bag along with their merchandise. You can even create a landing page on your website linking to review sites for the ultimate ease of access.

Review sites that will get the results you’re looking for include:

Google My Business/

Yelp

Foursquare

Citysearch

YP.com

Try the Review Handout Generator by Whitespark and Phil Rozek if you need an easy way to create handouts for your store, then wait for the reviews to start flowing!

Asking for reviews can be a bit of a scary process, considering you can land on a customer who’s not happy with their interaction. But don’t worry—even negative reviews keep your business active from a search engine’s point of view, and as long as you respond to all negative reviews in a calm and professional manner, you’ll be just fine.

Finally, on your quest for reviews, don’t be tempted into paying for fake reviews. This is considered fraud and you could be in big financial trouble for doing it. Not to mention, it’s just better to have legitimate reviews for your business. Even if they’re criticizing you, you can learn something from unhappy customers.

No matter the size or type of business you run, online reviews are imperative to keeping it running successfully. So, go and gather reviews and see just how good the results are!

Michael S.

My firm was rethinking its marketing approach. Our revised plan necessitated a downsizing of the services provided by LinkNow. The LinkNow staff was very helpful in facilitating this change. There was no “hard sell” or other pressure trying to get my firm to maintain its previous higher priced plan. This was a relief and encourages us to look to LinkNow later when we are more appropriately positioned to use LinkNow’s higher priced site optimization/marketing plans.

Mike M.

I wanted to thank you for the good work LinkNow Media has been doing for Mathers Electric’s Google Listings.

I googled Electricians Tallahassee FL and we came up on the first page, real close to the top. We have a 5 star rating and 10 excellent google
Reviews. I did not see another electric company with a 5 star rating. Before I started using LinkNow Media I could not get this to happen.

No matter how much I payed other companies. We now get most of our new business from the Web (Google).

Sincerely and forever grateful, Mike Mathers

President of Mathers Electric Co., Inc.

A concept image of a magnifying glass with a wooden handle on a textured white surface showing the word authentic but magnifying the word fake resembling counterfeitting

Receiving Fake Reviews From Competitors

In this day and age, dishonest companies have been able to stoop to new lows by attempting to damage their competitor’s reputation online with fake reviews.

While it may not be immediately obvious that a competitor is attacking you, a quick check through their other reviews should give you a clue. They are likely attacking other similar businesses in the area. If negative reviews are posted on other competitor’s pages within a tight timeframe, you’ve got the start of a case.

Fake and negative reviews are tricky to deal with. Always do your research before dealing with them, or you may be responding inappropriately to someone who is simply expressing their displeasure. Remember—there is such thing as a legitimate negative review. Take these as constructive criticism, and respond politely.

Tact at All Times

When responding to a fake negative review from your competitor, practice tact at all times. Whether this negative review is legitimate or not, treat it with the same respect. Follow these steps to compose a polite and professional response:

Breathe

Literally. Breathing exercises will calm you down, so take a few deep breaths.

Don’t take it personally.

A difficult one, but part of being a professional.

Address the issue.

Start your response off by repeating their complaint. For example: I understand that you (insert situation here).

State your core values.

Inform the reviewer of your business’ core values and why they don’t match with what happened.

Make a game plan.

Tell the reviewer what you plan to do to remedy the situation. If this is a competitor leaving a fake review, you likely will not actually do this because the situation did not occur. But, existing and potential customers will appreciate seeing what you would do if it really had happened.

Say thank you.

Thank the negative reviewer for their constructive criticism and invite them back to experience your business again in a better light sometime in the future.

Even if you expect this review to be removed, there will be wait time. Writing a proper response is of value to your future clients. Don’t lose business and allow your competitor to accomplish what they came to your review page for in the first place.

Keep on Keeping on

Being a business owner will always come with its ups and downs. This is what professionalism is all about! Practice being a professional adult at all times, flag inappropriate reviews and represent yourself well.

Should Google not agree with your report, you can always escalate the situation, encourage friends and family to flag the reviews as well, and tweet @GoogleSmallBiz to hurry the process along.

Like with school yard bullying, a reaction is always what a troll wants, so give them a minimal one. In the end, you make your own reputation in the business world and can overcome anything by keeping a cool head.

Instagram for the Small Business Owner

Instagram is a platform with over 600 million monthly active users. It’s the fourth most downloaded app, and 60% of people on Instagram discover new products through it. If you’re not already using it, you should be.

Some find the visual presentation of Instagram to be daunting. But all you need to interact with millions of potential customers is a cell phone and a little creativity.

Taking a Great Photo

These are a few tips that can help you out with your Instagram photography every time.

Composition

When making an impression, composition is one of the most important things to consider. A photo that a customer’s eyes can follow easily is always going to be more popular. Use the rule of thirds in this process by taking photos with the grid on your phone. The grid will help you to perfectly center your shot or align a subject on the grid to produce an off-centered shot that still works visually.

Lighting

Overly bright and overly dark photos just tend to be less inviting. If you don’t have a good system for lighting your shots, take advantage of natural light.

Palette

When a customer looks at your Instagram, they don’t just look at one photo, they view it as a whole. If your account has a unified look to it, users will be more likely to follow.

Filters

Filters are not cruise control for cool, but they can help. There are many to choose from and you can add a little, or a lot. Don’t filter excessively, or you will appear unprofessional and your products wont’ be represented accurately!

Videos

A newer feature to Instagram, videos and stories (videos and still images that are sent out to your followers and disappear after 24 hours) are excellent tools, though some still choose not to use them. However, with an app like Instagram it’s important to remain at the forefront of anything new they’ve implemented. If it’s available – use it!

Play around with videos. You’ll have fun and your followers will love it. Stories are especially great for announcements that don’t need to permanently remain on your account.

Hashtags

Hashtags are the lifeblood of Instagram. If you want someone to find your post, you need to tag it. That wall of text under a photo may look like overkill, but it’s been proven that those who use the maximum amount of hashtags (30) get triple the likes.

It’s important to note that you should not make up your own hashtags.  Pick ones that are used a lot so that your photo can show up as “trending” in the category. If you’re using long made-up hashtags, no one is searching for them and no one will find you.

Regramming

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and on Instagram you can do that by regramming. By downloading the app “Repost”, when you find a photo you love, you can post it to your account. The original poster will be credited and they’ll probably throw a like and follow your way.

Influencers and Ads

Up until this point, everything we’ve mentioned is free. But if you want to take your Instagram to the next level, you can do so by contacting influencers and purchasing ads.

An influencer is a user who has thousands or millions of followers. Depending on your budget, you can find someone to work with who is mildly popular, or extremely popular. When they share your products, their followers will check out your business!

You can create ads on Instagram by turning your page into a business page, and promoting posts. Or, you can use your Facebook account to launch custom ads that will show up to your chosen demographic.

In Closing

Instagram is a great platform to show off your products and give customers a closer look into how your business functions. For as small or as large a budget as you would like to put into it, it’s guaranteed to give back. So get ‘gramming today—we promise you’ll love it!

Business Owners’ Bad Review Responses A Case Study

Reviews are a fact of life when it comes to running a business.

They can be your best friend, or your worst enemy—depending on how you deal with them.

While it is tempting to write a scathing and entertaining response to people who leave negative reviews, as a professional, it is your duty to hold your tongue and not let your emotions do the thinking.

Below, are some examples of negative review responses, and how they could have been handled better.

1.

Where to start?

Firstly, admitting that you are inebriated when discussing a business issue is never OK. One shouldn’t be drunk in the first place when you’re on the clock (and yes, if you’re responding to reviews in your own time, that counts), but publicly admitting it is highly unprofessional. Next, making personal critiques (grammar) and suggesting a customer see a psychologist is not constructive. Especially when your own grammar and sanity could be up for review.

A more appropriate response to this review would be to apologize for their bad experience, and address the price issues. If your restaurant does have fluctuating prices, that should be noted in store and online so customers are prepared. There can certainly be reasons for this practice but it should be transparent so customers aren’t surprised.

2.

This one isn’t quite as extreme as the last, and could very well be true. However, this response is tinged with sarcasm and, if true, reveals unnecessary personal information. An apology in this case would have been better—state that you were unavailable for serious personal reasons, list that it was no excuse to not communicate with customers and let them know it won’t happen again. Offer them a discount or other incentive on a future booking should they be in town again.

If for some reason the situation is an emergency that keeps you away from your work, and you don’t have someone who can help you out with your business in this way, maybe think about hiring an assistant.

3.

As a business owner, your responses should not look like it was written by a ten year old

…and this one is a great example of what that means. Sure, this review was not the classiest, but the appropriate response would be to take the higher ground. As always, apologize! If you were having a bad day, admit that you were and say it was wrong of you to take it out on customers. Depending on what the prices are, they could be explained/defended in some way. Maybe point out that your aim is not to be cheap but to provide quality food.

What review responses come down to is the old adage “The customer is always right”. They may really not be, but your job as a business owner is to represent yourself and your company in the best way possible, no matter what others are provoking you to do. Responses can always be formulated to be reasonable even when defending oneself, but if you don’t have the time to compose something that is well thought out, apologies are the best policy.

Happy review reading, everyone!

Why Should Your Small Business Respond to Google Reviews?

garageWhen someone takes time to do something nice, you likely say thank you, almost reflexively. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be saying thank you online either, especially when it comes to Google Reviews.

Responding to Google Reviews can help your business out in more ways than one. Here are some reasons why you should respond to Google Reviews from LinkNow Media:

It’s Good Manners

From someone holding the elevator door to handing you your change, you say thank you many times throughout the day. It’s a nice thing to do and it acknowledges someone’s kindness, no matter how small it might be. If someone writes you a Google review, it only makes sense that you respond with a thank you just as you would in real life. Don’t overthink it. Let them know that you appreciate them taking time out of their day to let others know about your service or product.

It Helps SEO

You may not see the point in responding to something as simple as, “Great place” or “Good service”, but replying can help with your website’s position. After all, it isn’t like someone took a lot of time out of their day to write a long, glowing review. However, responding to a review, no matter how small, will encourage others to leave a review in the future. According to statistics, consumers are more likely to leave a review when they see that the business owner responds to reviews, and the more quality reviews you have, the better your search rankings will be.

It Builds Trust

When people are searching for a service that you offer, they are likely reading reviews from previous customers, and that means bad reviews, too. While receiving harsh criticism is never fun, it always a chance to show how far you will go to right a wrong. Demonstrate your ability to be professional, accept responsibility and offer up a solution.  This will show potential and current clients that your company is focused on client satisfaction.

Final Thoughts

What goes around comes around. If you are being nice online, people will see your kinds words and will think highly of you. Not to mention, being nice has its benefits when it comes online exposure. For instance, you’re always being cyber friendly and encouraging, other companies or clients may follow suite and return the favor!

Is Yelp Hurting Your Business?

chipsYelp is a social network that allows users to rate and review businesses. For over a decade, consumers have considered this local directory-style site a helpful source for finding new restaurants, stores, hairdressers, mechanics, and more. For some business owners, however, Yelp is anything but helpful. Many have accused Yelp for favoring businesses that have paid for advertisements and punishing those who have not.

Does Yelp Pick Favorites?

Yelp uses an algorithm to filter reviews as an effort to red flag reviews that appear to be fraudulent and to display reviews that appear to be relevant and trustworthy. According to Yelp, their software looks at a variety of signals to measure quality, readability, and legitimacy. They deny any alleged claims accusing them of  having any bias.

As far as the filtering goes, however, the algorithm seems to more lenient with negative reviews, hiding positive reviews under the not recommended section at the bottom of the page, many of which, are often from legitimate, satisfied customers. This is where small business owners grow frustrated.

You Should Be On Yelp!

If someone is searching for good, cheap tacos, they’re likely heading to Yelp. If someone is looking for a laundry delivery service, they’re heading to Yelp. If someone is curious about a new clothing boutique, they’re heading to Yelp. It isn’t hard to see – scrolling through reviews on Yelp is usually someone’s first step in the buying process.

Despite the ambiguity that surrounds Yelp’s filtering algorithm, it’s in your best interest to create a profile. If consumers aren’t going directly to the site, they are using the Yelp app, and if they aren’t using the app, they’re going there from a Google search. Yelp typically shows up on the first page of Google for searches related to the company name or service, so it is extremely helpful in building your web presence.

What About Negative Reviews?

In a perfect world, you’d only get words of praise. The fact of the matter is that you’ll get a handful of bad reviews. Where these are displayed is out of your control, but responding to them is in your control, and that is something you should do.

At LinkNow Media, we’ve pointed at the importance of responding to negative reviews  in the past, and the same points can be applied to addressing an unsatisfied customer on Yelp. Acknowledge what the customer is saying, offer a sincere apology, and find a solution to their specific problem. A negative comment is always an opportunity to show how far you will go to satisfy a customer.

That’s not all. You can incorporate them into your business operations. You know what they say: you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. Look at Yelpers as a free improvement squad there to point out what’s working and what isn’t.

Final Thoughts

There is no denying that that Yelp reviews play a very important factor in how consumers make decisions. How Yelp’s filtering algorithm will evolve in the coming years is anyone’s guess. One thing is for certain, though – people are generally good at spotting fake and authentic reviews. The more scrutiny that is placed on Yelp’s software, the more likely people are to check out hidden reviews.

How to Get Bloggers to Review Your Product

cafeThink about the last time you were on the fence about a product. You likely went to an online review site, like Amazon, and scrolled to the review section to see what others were saying about the product in question. If you still weren’t convinced, then you may have dug deeper to a product review blog to read a full-length account of someone’s experience. If the opinion was trustworthy and favorable, you likely followed through on the purchase. Was this the case? If so, there’s no denying it – you are like most consumers.

It isn’t hard to see how powerful the opinions of bloggers are when it comes to the buying process. They have revolutionized the way we make decisions in the market place, and are imperative to running a successful business. It goes without say then: the more buzz around a product, the more likely it is that people will make a purchase.

If you are looking to get the name out there about your product, then there’s no question that you are committed to finding people who have positive things to say about it. Working with a blogger is a great opportunity to get the word out there, increase brand awareness, and reach relevant consumers. Here are some recommendations about contacting someone to review your product:

Who to Ask

A blogger that gets a lot of traffic likely gets bombarded with emails asking to review this and that. If you plan to ask a popular blogger to write about your product, you’ll need to stand out. In a previous blog post, we focused on helpful tips for writing an email campaign, and a lot of those same marketing principles can be applied here. It’s important to keep your subject line concise. Don’t be afraid to make a pun, ask a question, or crack a joke – this is your chance to show that you’re unique. Be personable. Provoke curiosity. An email with a boring subject line isn’t going to get opened.

When it comes to the body of the email, put yourself in the shoes of the blogger. What’s in it for them? Bloggers want publicity, so you’ll need to sell them on that point. Explain why your product would be of interest to their audience. Be wary of coming across as too sales-pitchy or using a lot of corporate jargon.

Not getting any bites? It might be in your best interest to ask newer bloggers. They’ll be flattered by the request and they’ll love getting a freebie. Even if they’re new to the world of blogging, there are a few key things to look for, such as the consistency and frequency by which they post, and the level of engagement in the comments section.

Where to Find Review Bloggers

Pinterest is  a great place to find bloggers. Join related group boards, post your product, and interact with like-minded individuals. This is the first step to finding a pinner who might be interested in reviewing your product. They might even be the ones inquiring about it. If not, contact those who you feel you can build a relationship with. Be sure to familiarize yourself with their content before diving in.

Keep At It

These tips are a great place to start on your quest to reaching the blogger that will get your product noticed. Of course, what works for some businesses might not work for others. In the end, it’s all about what works best for your audience. Don’t get discouraged by rejection – it simply wasn’t meant to be.

At LinkNow Media, we are always looking at ways to help business owners get more online reviews, so stop by often!

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