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The Better Business Bureau vs. Peer Reviews

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The Better Business Bureau (BBB) was founded in 1912 and created to focus on advancing marketplace trust. An unbiased authority, their accreditation of businesses across the United States and Canada have held a lot of weight when it comes to displaying the quality of a business.

Ranked F – A+ and providing basic information on a business such as founding date, as well as customer reviews, it’s a great website to gain valuable information. Factors that affect a BBB accreditation are:

1. Build trust

2. Advertise honestly

3. Tell the truth

4. Be transparent

5. Honor promises

6. Be responsive

7. Safeguard privacy

8. Embody integrity

These are all excellent things for businesses to aspire towards.

However, over the years, the BBB is losing its standing as the first resource discerning customers turn to. While businesses still proudly display their accreditation, and rightly so, consumers are starting to turn more to online reviews on sites such as Google, Yelp, Foursquare and Facebook.

So, what does the BBB offer their members that free reviews do not?

Right out the gate, you’re going to have to look at your client demographic. The baby boomer generation grew up seeing the BBB as a standard of excellence. A business could be ruined with the right misconduct complaints. If they are your target, the $500 yearly BBB membership could be a valuable investment.

Once you’re a member, you start off with an A rating which is pretty good. This could go up with good reviews, or down with bad. You’ll receive a logo that you can place on your site, the backlink is good quality SEO, and your membership fee is tax deductible.

The biggest difference between the BBB and other review websites is status and history. Accreditation looks great but when it comes to sheer quantity of opinions and SEO value you would be better off encouraging reviews across other platforms, especially if you have a younger audience.

In Conclusion

So, in the end, do we believe in the relevancy of the Better Business Bureau in 2017? YES we do! A membership just may not be for every business, especially those just starting out.

Like with any marketing tactic it’s important to weigh your options and look at your target market. Online reviews are an amazing sounding board for your customers to tell other people what they think about the products/services you offer, and for you to respond to their feedback.

When you read about what’s affecting SEO, you’re not going to find the BBB listed anywhere but you are going to find a lot of stats about reviews.

It’s a fact that over 80% of your current and future clients are reading reviews and taking them seriously, and they’re not hunting for the ones on the BBB.

However, the BBB provides a long-standing pedigree that is appealing to many browsers who want to know more about your website. If you’re able to make the investment, we recommend you try it out. But until you’re able to, just keep building those reviews!

What Marketers Should Know About Online Reviews

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In this age of the Internet, lots of things are being re-thought especially the way in which we market products and services. Whether you’re a small business or a large one, the same suggestions apply.

The pre-Internet consumer would compare brands and were fully dependent on information provided by manufacturers. While some brand names still carry weight, the importance of brand names in general have diminished, with consumers favoring opinions from experts and users.

The current consumer relies on user-generated reviews, expert opinions and peer to peer information in general.

So, where does the marketer stand in all of this? While they don’t have full say over what information consumers have available to them, by working with an influence mix they can be more effective than ever.

The influence mix consists of prior preference and experience, information from marketers and consumer reviews.

Prior Preference and Experience

This applies to products that are habitually bought, like toothpaste and toilet paper. Customers are going to be influenced by what they themselves have done in the past more than anything else. These products are review-independent and feature luxury items as well.

Information From Marketers

Right in the middle, information from marketers can fall into review-independent products and review-dependent ones as well. However, someone purchasing a review-independent product is more likely to take this information into account, as they’re not looking for reviews to tell them something similar.

Consumer Reviews

The consumer’s reliance on reviews is most prevalent with products they can’t test themselves. All products follow a continuum. For example, before purchasing electronics buyers will pay close attention to what previous purchasers have had to say before taking any chances. But when buying from a chain restaurant, they rarely have reason to look it up since they already know what they’re going to get.

Market research is more important than ever. Figure out how your market is getting their information and making their purchasing decisions, and you’ll be able to decide from there the best way to follow through with marketing. With the rise of reviews, branding takes on less importance, making it easier entry for newcomers and for anyone to diversify more easily.

Did you know, 30% of U.S. consumers say they begin their online purchase research by going to Amazon.com to read through reviews? And 79% of Americans now shop online. With a market that big it’s not one you want to miss out on. Whether or not your product or service can be directly purchased online doesn’t matter. If you can benefit from reviews, make sure you’re getting them.

To properly use reviews, make note of these points:

Do:Track and quantify information from forums and review sites.

Don’t: Measure individual preferences, satisfaction and loyalty.

While some believe that reviews are going the way of the dinosaurs with more fake ones cropping up every day, that’s not truly the case. Review websites are coming up with ways to certify reviews and crack down on the fakers, making reviews more reliable than ever.

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.

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!

The Customer Is Always Right, Right? Advice for Small Businesses

teacupsLinkNow Media has written about ways of responding to negative reviews before. We’ve shown you how to handle negative reviews, and how to use positive reviews to boost your brand. Today, we’re going to take it one step further to help you understand the process and the value of analyzing your customer reviews. We’ve all heard the age old adage that “the customer is always right”, and through the careful consideration of customer feedback, you’ll see that this is true in more ways than one. Not only is it the go-to model for good customer service, it’s also the best way to approach customer reviews, negative or positive.

ABC: Always Be Changing

A stagnant business is a failing business. If you’re not consistently changing your business model to better serve your customers, your customers are heading to your competitors. This is where analysis of your reviews can be integral to success. Think of it this way, wouldn’t it be great to have a helpful coach in real time telling you what and how you could improve your business? If you approach feedback not as either congratulation or denigration, but as a roadmap to help you get where you want to go, then you’ve tapped into a very powerful resource. There are a few simple how-to’s online that can help you create a system to harness this new found resource. We recommend taking a look at this post on analyzing from CSM.

Learn From Mistakes

It’s Fine to Celebrate Success But it is More Important to Heed the Lessons of Failure.” This quote from Bill Gates is the perfect way to summarize why paying attention to customer reviews is important. Learning from your failures keeps your company moving forward and maximizing growth. That being said, it’s equally important to play to your strengths. If you notice throughout your analysis of customer reviews that you’re hearing the same things repeated in every positive review, work with that information to better market your services. You don’t want your slogan to be about speed if every bad review of your service cites long wait times, that kind of inconsistency can damage your credibility. On the other hand, if you notice that customers are responding positively to how simple it is to access your services, than focus on marketing your company as customer friendly. This doesn’t mean you get to stop implementing plans to improve on your weaknesses, but it does mean that sometimes it pays to keep on the sunny side.

These are all very simplified ideas regarding customer review analysis, but once you start critically engaging with your audience it will open up a lot of doors for your business. There are a lot of resources available to help you move forward with more advanced analytics of feedback. But today at LinkNow Media, we hope we’ve at least got you thinking, let us know in the comments below!

5 Customer Appreciation Tips For 2017

penWhile a simple gesture, saying thank you is a sign of respect, appreciation, and gratitude. As a business owner, you can’t afford to overlook the importance of these two little words. Thanking customers is a huge factor in customer retention, as well as your online presence. Below are 5 creative ways to express gratitude. Not only will the following techniques make your customers feel appreciated, they also ensure your marketing efforts don’t go to waste.

Discounts

Who doesn’t like saving money? Offering loyal customers discounts via email is a great way to show that you are thinking of them. Make sure the content of the email is well-structured, playful, and fun. This is a chance to display a creative edge over your competition!

Freebies

Many businesses are beginning to see the value of saying thank you in the form of a freebie. Take advantage of holidays and clients’ birthdays (if you have that information), by offering a free service or product. This will make your customers feel valuable and appreciated.

Trials

When people are on the fence, a free trial can diminish any worries they may have about your company, products, or services. By doing so, you’re saying that you appreciate their interest. Thanking someone for even expressing interest may seem odd, but it says a lot about how far you will go for your customers.

Showcase

Brining attention to your customers on your website or social media pages will make them feel special. Let others know how much you appreciate their loyalty by being as specific as possible. This is a great way to reach a wider audience, as your customers will likely share your words of praise, if they haven’t already been tagged.

Refer

As a small business owner, you have the amazing opportunity to work with people in a wide range of industries. A great way to show them that you appreciate their business is by sending business their way. What goes around comes around.

Closing

It can be tricky for new businesses to find a creative, genuine way to express gratitude, but don’t let that discourage you from venturing outside of the box. Giving thanks will become more intimate and refined as you build stronger relationships with your customers. Understanding your audience is the key to making the most of the after-transaction phase.

Who to Thank During the Holidays

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With the holiday season in full swing, it’s high time to express gratitude to the people who help strengthen your brand and build your business. Rather than send a generic season’s greetings email to every person in your database, you should consider sending a thoughtful, personalized message. While it would be nice to send unique content to each your clients, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. The best way to personalize your messages and still have time for holiday shopping and festivities is to divide your customers into groups and create different content for each. Of course, we’re looking at this from a marketing perspective.

Potential Clients

Potential customers are people who have shown interest in your product or service, but will need an extra nudge to follow through on the purchase. Here’s where bottom of the funnel type of content comes in handy. To convert these potential customers, you will need to diminish any concerns they have about getting on board. Put yourself in their shoes. Do they need more information about your company? About how they will benefit? Is money the problem? Address these concerns in the form of a thank you. Thank them for showing interest by offering a free test-trial or a discount, in the spirit of Christmas.

Existing Clients

Existing clients don’t need more information about your company history, services, or pricing. They’re already sold. You likely already have an established relationship, and now is the time to strengthen this relationship. A good way to do this is by boosting what they already have, or cross-selling. Cross-selling is the practice of selling a different, but related product or service to an existing customer. If you are a company that sells different tiers of packages, give them the gift that keeps on giving by offering a discount on upgrading.

Collaborates

No company is without business partners and suppliers. Whatever yours provide you with, display your gratitude by sending a gift. You can do this via email with a digital gift card or via mail. Keep in mind that the businesses that you work with have employees too. Express your thanks with a company-wide lunch on you. This is a surefire way to show that you appreciate everyone and all they do to help your business grow and succeed.

Employees

The holiday season is a wonderful time of year, but it can be stressful  for employees who are scrambling to complete work tasks before break, while juggling Christmas shopping, cooking, and planning. Show your employees you appreciate all the work they do by organizing a holiday office party with food, beverages, and fun presents. It’s a great way to destress, rejuvenate the holiday spirit, and display gratitude.

Closing

Many businesses are seeing the benefit of creating separate messages for different clients and business partners. It allows for deeper relationships, without sacrificing precious time, which, let’s face it, can be scarce around the holidays. It’s not too late to send off some holiday emails, but you’ll want to be creative. Businesses everywhere are taking advantage of the season by offering special deals and promotions, so you’ll need to find a way to stand out. Think outside the box when it comes to subject lines, and keep the body of the email concise!

 

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