As a business owner or marketing leader, you are constantly searching for means to proactively expand your brand exposure and grow your business by acquiring new customers and taking a larger wallet share by cultivating customer loyalty. Having a dominating presence on lead review sites such as Yelp, Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and Foursquare (among others) can give your business a competitive advantage that will undoubtedly boost your growth as far as traffic and overall revenues. If you are currently on the lookout for ways to increase your reviews both qualitatively and quantitatively, then we have ten easy tips proven to boost engagement across all types of businesses.
1. Claim and Manage All Your Profiles
Customer engagement is not a one-way street. The first and most effective way to generate buzz, which leads to high-quality reviews, is by creating landing pages on review websites that show a high level of care and customer focus. Several studies show that searchers are more likely to engage with businesses and, subsequently, visit brick-and-mortar locations if the business has an interesting narrative that helps the shopper become more familiar with their offering.
Furthermore, if your business has a rich multimedia environment with photos that abundantly portray your products and services, chances are an online visitor will be persuaded to patronize your business in person and follow-up with his or her very own online review. A good profile can tip the scales in the decision-making process and give the browser just enough information to be compelled to give you a try. Once he or she has crossed the threshold, it is up to your operational team to deliver superb customer experiences that will translate into five-star reviews.
2. Be Social-Media Active
Plain and simple, being social-media active will help you stay ahead in the race for customer engagement. Many social-media platforms provide consumers with functional segues into review websites, or in the case of Facebook, host their own environment aimed at allowing users to provide reviews about businesses and services.
3. Prioritize Review Websites Relevant to Your Niche
By carefully observing and tracking the main popular review websites, your business will quickly begin to identify patterns of engagement based on the type of product or service. For example, if your business is located in a highly urban area and the focus is fast food, chances are you will have a significant level of engagement originating from location-based review websites such as Foursquare.
On the other hand, if your business is focused on hospitality and provides lodging for which customers are likely to make plans in advance, then chances are online engagement will happen at a higher rate on pages such as TripAdvisor, or as a direct result of solicitation from travel aggregators such as Expedia or Hotels.com. Once your business has identified high-engagement pages, it is essential to become familiar with all the tools and marketing functions available for free and at a cost, in order to make timely and budget-sensitive marketing and online reputation moves aimed at maintaining momentum on these websites.
4. Maximize Location-Based Apps
Many location-based apps such as Foursquare, and other loyalty apps like Belly, allow businesses to design promotions aimed at bringing customers in the door during low-business hours, or providing bonus promos to encourage viral or social engagement. Customers engaged in loyalty or location-based programs are more likely to engage in shout-outs and reviews. When designing a location-based promo as a means of securing additional reviews, it is important to ensure the promo or perk is perceived as a great value, one good enough to brag about online. For example, we know of a great bar in NOLA that ups the size of its cocktails during happy hour to a 32 oz. version. This gesture triggers a great amount of social and viral engagement and numerous five-star reviews.
5. Engage Your Customers Offline
This seems obvious, but it is often forgotten. Make it a point to create personal and personable relationships with your customers. A customer that feels vested in your business is many times more likely to take the time to leave a positive review. Cultivating meaningful relationships with your best customers should be a definite goal of any small to medium business.
If you are a restaurant, then take time to check on tables often. When possible, surprise your most loyal guests with small but meaningful gestures such as an off-the-menu treat or dessert on the house. Similarly, hotels should make a point to provide their most valuable guests with amenities that build memories and trigger recall. A good review, after all, is one that tells a story. Give your customers the plot for their story, and watch how your review volume, velocity, and popularity go through the roof.
6. Launch Groupons & Promos
If your business feels like it has reached a marketing wall, and expanding to different segments or an expanded market is proving difficult or cost-prohibitive, then consider investing in a well-planned promo or Groupon that exposes a large and unreached customer pool to your product and service. The key to converting a Groupon or promo into more and better reviews is to design a promo that appeals to a desirable segment that is highly likely to find affinity with your business.
Getting to know the who, why, and when of customer satisfaction for your current customers will equip you to make a smart move when it comes to launching a campaign aimed at both growing your business and securing more customer reviews. We have compiled a small guide to help you design a sound Groupon campaign aimed at boosting your online reputation. Check it out.
7. Take Advantage of Website-Provided Review Interaction Tools
Many review websites provide business owners with tools aimed at increasing online engagement. From something as simple as a window decal to pre-packaged code for you to feature on your website, the opportunities to trigger engagement are out there waiting to be maximized by smart business leaders. A great example of a tool that goes underutilized is TripAdvisor’s review-request e-mail feature called Review Express. Contrary to Yelp, TripAdvisor encourages owners to request reviews from guests by using a template format provided by TripAdvisor. If you are using the TA feature, then make sure you are sending your requests frequently, which increases the accuracy of recall, especially regarding positive experiences.
8. Facilitate “Kodak Moments”
A very important part of growing your online reputation and increasing the persuasiveness of your online profiles is to have user-generated multimedia. In fact, multimedia is so desirable that Yelp recently introduced video reviews as an additional feature available to reviewers. Create and facilitate opportunities for your customers to take great photos and video.
This can be achieved by setting up props, creating beautiful settings by providing small and uncommon luxuries, or simply by delivering personalized experiences such as writing a congratulatory message as part of the plating for a birthday dessert. Teach your staff to be photo-friendly, and even offer to take group photos for your customers. Hopefully, their images will make their way to social and review websites and other viral channels on the Web.
9. Respond to Reviews
Providing past reviewers meaningful, personalized, and detail-rich responses is likely to motivate future reviewers to engage with your business and write reviews worthy of a response. Doing business in a way that invites and informs future customers not only benefits the reviewer but also reassures future customers of your commitment to try your very best to deliver customer satisfaction.
10. Host Sponsored or Charitable Events
Everyone likes doing business with someone that cares. If you want to expand your reach and influence in the community, then make your business available as a resource for fundraising and charitable activities. By doing so, you will receive free marketing exposure to expanded lists of potential customers in your community and gain the goodwill of many.
Businesses perceived as charitable and vested with their local community often out-rank and outscore those that take a more passive approach. Do things that matter with people that care, and you will soon be rewarded with both online and word-of-mouth referrals beyond anything you ever expected.