As a local service business (e.g., contractor, electrician, plumber, painter, landscaper, etc) you have probably experienced the power of word-of-mouth marketing.
When a client is happy with your services, he’d tell his friends and neighbors about your business and those people will be more likely to hire you because of the recommendation.
What if you can scale this up so more potential clients can see what your raving clients say about your services?
With more consumers searching online for local service providers, online reviews should be an important component in your marketing and lead generation toolkit.
The Power of Online Reviews
If you’re wondering whether it’s worth the effort to gather customer reviews online, take a look at these statistics:
- Nearly 95% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase decision.
- 85% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.
- 73% of consumers trust a business more after reading positive reviews.
- 68% of Americans report that positive reviews make them more likely to use a business.
Displaying reviews have been found to increase conversion rates by as much as 270%.
In addition, when your business is listed on third-party review sites, which often have higher domain authority than your own website, your profile can often rank high in relevant search engine results so you can get found by more prospects.
Boost Your Reputation With an Online Review Strategy
When it comes to online reviews, the more is indeed the merrier. On average, potential customers read 7 reviews before trusting a business while having five reviews can increase conversion rate by as much as 400%.
Here’s how to maximize the power of online reviews to improve your reputation and attract more clients:
Establish Your Presence On Review Sites
Most potential clients will research your business on third-party review sites before visiting your website or calling your business. Make sure people can find you no matter where they look.
BrightLocal found that Yelp and Facebook are local consumers’ most trusted review sites, followed by Google and BBB.org (Better Business Bureau.)
Register your business or claim your listing on these sites. Make sure you fill out all the profile information, add photos or videos, and include a link to your website.
Responding to reviews is more important than ever, with 30% of consumers considering this as key when judging local businesses.
Monitor comments on the review sites to make sure you respond to feedback in a timely manner.
Many of these sites highlight a business’s average response time and response rate. Most consumers use this information to gauge the quality of your customer service and decide whether to contact you for a quote.
Ask Your Clients To Leave a Review
Writing a review for your business is probably not top of mind for your clients. However, 68% of consumers would leave a local business review when asked.
Make it easy for your clients to share a review by including a call-to-action and links to review sites on your website and email newsletters.
In addition, create a system to ask for reviews at the right time (e.g., when you just finish a project and the client is happy with the outcome). You can make it easier for your clients to post reviews by providing them with suggestions (e.g., ask some open-ended questions) and before/after photos they can upload.
Do Not Offer Incentives For Reviews
Avoid offering rewards or incentives to customers for leaving reviews.
Doing so is at least a gray area and at worst a violation of review site policy.
You may get away with it for a while, but you risk losing all your reviews.
Instead, provide great service and ask for reviews.
Encourage Reviewers To Use Their Real Names
Research has found that purchase likelihood improves by 15% when potential customers read verified buyer reviews over anonymous ones.
When you ask your clients to leave a review, encourage them to use their real names and general locations (city) so the reviews are perceived to be more trustworthy.
Encourage Reviewers To Be Descriptive
Google sometimes shows reviews on local results that contain words that match words used in the search query.
This makes sense because users are most interested in reviews of work that is similar to their needs.
Increase your odds of being visible and capturing a lead by asking reviewers to mention the service you provided. The more descriptive, the better.
Instead of the usual: “Smith’s Plumbing provides great service. I highly recommend them.”
Ask for something like: “Smith Plumbing arrived within 2 hours of calling them and was able to quickly repair my water heater. The service was quick and professional!”
Share Positive Customer Reviews
Social proof is a powerful tactic for marketing a local service business. Make the most out of positive customer reviews by sharing the links or screenshots on your website and social media profiles.
For example, you can format a screenshot of a positive review and post on Instagram or re-share a positive Facebook review as a post on your business page. You can even tag the clients and thank them for their support.
How To Maximize the Impact of Your Online Reviews On Google, Facebook, and Yelp
Google, Facebook, and Yelp are the three most popular review sites for local service businesses. Here’s how to optimize your presence on these platforms:
How To Get More Google Reviews
Google reviews can help you attract more clients and improve your SEO ranking. In addition, searchers are more likely to click on links with good star ratings.
First, claim your Google My Business listing and optimize your profile by filling out as much information as you can.
Next, make it easy for your clients to submit a review by sending them a link that’ll take them directly to the review form:
- Google your business name.
- When your business shows up on the right-hand column, click on the “write a review” button.
- A review box will pop up. Copy the URL in the address bar – that’s the URL to send to your clients when you ask for a review. (You can use a URL shortener, such as bitly.com, to make it more user-friendly.)
- Alternatively, click here and enter you business name and address in the box provided, get your Google Place ID, and use it to create a write-a-review link that works best on both mobile and desktop devices. This URL will look like this: https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=<place_id>
How To Optimize Your Facebook Reviews
To get reviews displayed on your Facebook page, you need to add the “Review” tab by going to Settings > Edit Page > Add a Tab. The star ratings will be prominently displayed on your page and serve as a powerful social proof to help you attract more clients.
Make sure you’re getting a notification every time a review is posted so you can respond in a timely manner.
Although you can’t remove bad reviews from your page, you can report those that are inaccurate or violate Facebook Community Standards to protect your reputation.
How To Leverage Yelp Reviews
A study by Harvard Business School has found that a one-star increase in Yelp rating can lead to a 5-9% increase in revenue.
The first step to getting Yelp reviews is to claim and optimize your business listing by completing your profile.
While Yelp discourages businesses from asking customers directly for reviews, there are a few things you can do to optimize your Yelp presence:
- Follow Yelp’s terms of service and guidelines.
- Place a Yelp badge on your website and link it to your Yelp profile so visitors can click through to check out the comments or leave a review.
- Include a link to your Yelp listing in your email signature so your contacts can click through to read the comments or post a review.
- Share your positive Yelp reviews on the social web.
It should be noted that Yelp uses an automated system to choose which reviews are considered credible and which are not.
Many have complained that Yelp is not fair as sometimes it will choose to not show your best reviews and instead show less favorable reviews.
If this happens, flag any suspect reviews and complain to Yelp. They probably will not remove any less desirable reviews, but they might start showing more of your good reviews, thereby increasing your overall rating.
While it’s important to cultivate your presence on third-party review sites, keep in mind that you don’t own the content on those platforms.
Profiles can get deleted and reviews can disappear for a variety of reasons. Keep a record of all your reviews by taking screenshots, printing them out, posting them onto your website, or copying the content into a Google doc.
There are many ways to leverage online reviews to boost your reputation and attract more clients. Optimizing your presence on Google, Facebook, local directories, and third-party review sites should be an integral part of your lead generation strategy.
That’s why 99 Calls does way more than build your business website and optimize the content for SEO. We’ll also create a Google My Business listing, a Facebook business page, and a Yelp listing if needed.
Each website also includes a “Write-A-Review Widget” to help your customers leave you great reviews for your website, Google, and Facebook.
See how 99 Calls can help you generate more local service leads – request a free demo of the 99 Calls Lead Generation System.