Online comment and review strategies
It’s no secret that referrals from your customers are one of the best ways to generate new business. After all, people trust what their friends and families say much more than any advertisement. While many of these referrals happen in offline conversations, the Internet has quickly become a space for recommendations, too.Because many small businesses have close relationships with their customers and vendors, they are perfectly positioned to seek online reviews and testimonials to build business. What’s more, online reviews and comments on reputable sites like Yelp.com, MerchantCircle.com, Google Maps, Facebook® and others can help make your business visible online while driving traffic to your website from search engines. You can even feature these glowing reviews on your business’s website or other marketing materials in order to showcase customer satisfaction to potential new customers.

If your small business doesn’t have a comment and review strategy in place yet, perhaps it’s time to implement one.
Here are five tips to get started …

  1. Keep in mind that sometimes all you have to do is ask. While your customers might be happy, it may not occur to them to go online and review your business, so a little nudge won’t hurt. When you make a sale, provide a customer service call or send an email—ask “Hey, would you mind taking a few seconds to share your experience with us today?” Or, consider running a contest that involves entering those customers who review your business, on a site of your choosing, in a drawing to win a prize like a messenger bag, a tablet sleeve or a gift card.
  2. Make it easy for customers to offer reviews. Make comment cards readily available, send customers links to your business’s review site listing; even set up onsite laptops or tablet PCs that are directed to your selected review site to help make the review process a breeze. Consider including the review site’s URL on business cards, shopping bags, pens and more to help spread the word.
  3. Know what makes for a good review. Good reviews don’t just consist of pleasantries and positive adjectives—they tell a story with emotion and share specific details. They provide readers with context about a product, service experience or situation, and are concise enough to be memorable.
  4. Leverage reviews in a variety of ways. Once you collect reviews, use them in other ways to help get the biggest bang for your buck. Select reviews to use as testimonials on your website, in brochures, flyers or advertisements. Consider, too, highlighting great reviews by tweeting links to them or posting links on your Facebook page. Go ahead, toot your own horn—just make sure to ask your customers for their permission first.
  5. Thank your customers for their kind words. Customers that take the time to offer their feedback deserve to be acknowledged. Consider putting a process in place that sends reviewers a thank-you note or an extra special thank-you gift for those truly outstanding reviews, like an imprinted popcorn tin.

Online reviews can be a great way to build business and drive traffic to your website. Urge your customers to spread your good word today.

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