Whether your organization has two, 200 or 2,000 locations, Frank Terlep, founder and CEO of eMarketing Sherpas, said that online reviews are extremely important to your business. From his experience over the years, he said they can improve customer engagement, a company’s brand and increase online referrals.
He cited data collected from the Bazaarvoice network in 2015, which said a business with one review can experience a 10 percent increase in sales, a business with 50 reviews can have a 30 percent increase and businesses with 200 reviews can see a 44 percent increase.
Terlep recently held a webinar discussing the importance of online reviews and offered tips on how to have your business appear on page one of a Google, Yahoo! or Bing search in your local market.
Terlep said that 88 percent of connected consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from people and 90 percent said that positive online reviews influence their buying decisions.
In 2015, a company named Review Inc. surveyed 1,000 consumers and found that consumers trust online reviews much more than any other marketing and advertising mediums, including websites, newspaper, television and the yellow pages.
“A brand is no longer what we tell consumers it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is,” said Scott D. Cook, the founder of Intuit and a board member of eBay and P&G.
“But the sad news is that 87 percent of small businesses like most of you on this call don’t really have a formal process in place to ask for and capture online reviews,” Terlep said during his presentation.
Over the last few months, he has found that review sites now occupy 40 to 80 percent of all first page links.
With an abundance of different review sites on the web, businesses might wonder what review sites are the most important to focus on. “The review sites that consumers use the most and see the most and know the most are the ones that matter the most,” said Terlep.
Some of the more popular ones he mentioned include Yelp, Google, Yahoo!, Bing, Facebook, Citysearch, Yellow Pages and Judy’s Book.
What steps should a business put in place to get more online reviews?
“Just ask!” said Terlep. “If you want to get reviews, you need to let the customer know that reviews are important to your business.” He said it’s also important to make it easy and convenient for consumers to give you a review and let them know which sites you would like to get the reviews on.
He suggested using signage, POS materials, verbal requests, delivery handouts, email, your website, Facebook, mobile apps and in some cases, in-house kiosks.
He strongly recommended that a delivery review request handout be given to a customer when their vehicle is delivered.
Another effective way he found to ask for online reviews is by sending an email or text. Currently, the average open rate for an email is 18 to 22 percent; while a text has a 98 percent open rate and is usually read within five minutes.
When asking for a verbal review, Terlep said there are eight must dos:
- Always get permission before sending a review request.
- Ask at the peak of your customer’s happiness with your service.
- Let your customer know that you’re asking for a “favor.”
- Let your customer know how long this will take.
- Let your customer know how you benefit from their favor.
- Get your customer’s primary email address.
- Tell your customer how much their offering to write a review means to you
- Tell them that you’re looking forward to reading their review.
Terlep stressed the importance of responding to every review. Not only is it great for SEO (Search Engine Optimization), he said it demonstrates to the consumer that the reviews really are important to your business.
eMarketing Sherpas specializes in digital marketing solutions for the collision repair industry. The San Diego-based company developed the Review Engine product in 2015, with the intent of helping businesses build, promote, protect and manage online reviews and reputation.
The Review Engine software delivers reviews and reporting for businesses and can be set up to import a company’s estimating management software into their platform. It also integrates with more than 100 social media and review sites.
Other features include customized review request delivery handouts and automated email and text review requests. eMarketing Sherpas offers a free demonstration of the product.
“Because we use so many different tools and techniques to request and capture online reviews, your business can expect to see a 100 percent to 300 percent increase in the number of online reviews your business receives,” said Terlep.