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 man than any advertisement. While many of these referrals happen in offline conversations, the Internet has quickly become a space for recommendations, too.Because small businesses often have close relationships with their customers and vendors, they are perfectly positioned to seek out 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 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 reconsider.

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 and vocal, it might not be on their radar to go online and review your business, so a little nudge won’t hurt. When you make a sale, after a customer service call, in the signature of an e-mail—these are all opportunities to ask “Hey, would you mind taking a few seconds to share your experience with us today?” Or, consider running a contest from time to time that involves entering those customers in a draw who review your business on a site of your choosing 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 directly to your business’s listing on review sites, even set up laptops or tablets near the door or the register that go directly to the review site of your choosing to help make the review process a breeze. Consider including these URLs 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 a lot of pleasantries and positive adjectives—they tell a story with emotion and share specific details. The reviews from customers that are broad enough that readers can find context, specific to a product, service experience or situation and concise enough for them to be memorable are the ones that you’ll want to use in your marketing efforts online and off.
  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 or snippets of reviews to use as testimonials on your website, quotes in brochures or flyers or in 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 to use their reviews in other ways first.
  5. Thank your customers for their kind words. Customers that take the time to offer their feedback and input deserve to be acknowledged. Consider putting a process in place that sends reviewers a thank-you note or those extra special glowing reviews an extra special thank-you gift, like this mini business organizer imprinted with a special “thank you” message.

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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