That’s because 78 per cent of people turn to review sites, and over 80 per cent of those people do so because they intend to make a purchase.
Review sites let consumers post about their experiences with businesses, and have made the consumer voice stronger than ever.
Importantly for business owners, review sites also offer free tools to help you engage with your customers so you can get the online exposure you need to grow your business.
So if you’re ready to market your business with review sites, here are seven tips to help get you started:
1. Make sure basic information is correct
Your number one priority should be to claim your free business page or profile. Once you do this, you want to make sure it contains accurate, up-to-date information about your business.
Consumers expect to find your opening hours, website, address, contact numbers and so on. Make sure you give them this basic information, which they need to find you.
2. Show off your business with photos
It is vitally important to include high-quality images to show consumers what they can expect from your business.
Your photos should highlight your store or office, best-selling products or services, and staff. Users stay 2.5 times longer on business pages with photos.
Don’t just upload your logo, as it’s not that helpful for customers.
3. Tell customers about yourself
Consumers today want to know the origins of the products they buy and the stories of the businesses they frequent.
As a business owner, you can leverage this trend by including information about yourself, your business and its history, and what you specialise in.
This not only helps people decide on your business, but also improves your SEO.
4. Respond to reviews
One of the best ways to show you take customer service seriously is to respond to reviews.
Public messages can be seen by everyone who views your page, and are a great way to engage with customers. Private messages are great for thanking customers or finding out a bit more about a particular customer’s experience.
Almost 80 per cent of reviews are three out of five stars or higher, so it’s likely that you’ll be receiving positive feedback online.
Whether you receive a good or not-so-good review, make sure you respond the same way as you would in person. This means thanking reviewers for their feedback, responding diplomatically and, if you have any points of difference with the review, addressing those calmly.
5. Use free analytics tools to monitor your data
Some review sites will give you access to a whole host of data about who is looking at your page.
Take a look at how many people view your business’ page every month and how many of these people are leads (i.e. people who take some action to engage with your page, such as clicking over to your website or calling you from the app).
This data is generally free, and you should take advantage of it to see how much traffic and revenue review sites drive to your business.
6. Get mobile-ready
According to recent research, almost 80 per cent of Australians now own a smart phone. So if you’re trying to reach customers online, mobile should be one of your top considerations.
Many review sites have a specific app for business owners that sends real-time notifications about how consumers engage with your page and lets you respond to messages and reviews from your mobile device.
Take advantage of these free tools to interact with customers from your mobile device.
7. Let people know where to find you online
If you’re looking to get more people talking about your business online, you should include links to your review sites in your marketing material.
Instead of directly asking for reviews, focus on providing great customer service and just let people know where to find you on the web – this will make sure your business’ online reputation grows organically, which is what consumers trust most.
Sometimes a simple visual reminder makes the biggest difference, so don’t forget in-store signage and stickers pointing to your online presence.
Nick Lembo is manager of local business outreach at review site Yelp.