If you do a Google search of Yelp, chances are you will get endless results related to businesses feeling unfairly treated by the review site to the point of having to take legal action. In fact, for many businesses, particularly small operations, the relationship with Yelp and other popular review sites can be a love-hate rollercoaster driven by the latest reviews, and how they impact lead generation and online business reputation.
The issue of review sites is a common topic of discussion among business leaders and local chambers of commerce, with many members feeling powerless when facing negative reviews that result in detrimental marketing signals. If you have found yourself among those complaining and feeling powerless when facing difficult reviews, then we want you to take courage. The reality of online reviews is that they are full of opportunities for businesses willing to proactively engage in reputation management, and consistently work toward process and product improvement.
Yelp and other review sites are the modern form of word-of-mouth referrals. As such, businesses dedicated to providing first-class products and services will be able to trigger reviews that will in turn help bring new customers through the door. If your business is able to meet or exceed expectations, then new leads originating from review sites will be swiftly persuaded to also join the review bandwagon, setting the stage for constant growth in popularity as well as client acquisition.
To put it simply, businesses with 3.5 stars or more will without question receive leads and new customers originating from review sites, whereby those with lower star ratings will have potential shoppers walking away without even giving them a chance to prove themselves worthy of a business interaction.
With more than 85 percent of consumers resorting to online reviews before making purchasing decisions with local businesses, every review site should be perceived and valued as a first-class asset to small-business organizations.
The reality is simple. If you are good at what you do, then the word will spread; and review sites are superior platforms to help you expand your reach. They are free, they are consumer-guided and directed, and they are a real-time, unbiased resource that tells a story about the way you do business. Let’s look at the 3 most important ways in which review sites can be your best ally when it comes to customer acquisition.
Online Reviews Bring the Business to You
Most review sites are launched as directories and begin with a list of core businesses as well as the option for consumers to add more as they discover new venues. Review sites, even if left alone with no action whatsoever from the business, will point new customers your way.
As a business owner or business marketer, you don’t have to go out and draft material that features your services, amenities, or features; reviewers will take care of that. A reviewer provides potential customers with insights and tips about a business and service. By telling potential customers what they want to hear about your business, review sites provide your business with an automatic means of building a narrative that promotes your business without you ever typing a single word.
In saying this, we are not discounting the value of review management, nor do we recommend that you sit back and do nothing about your review profiles. In fact, knowing that review sites will bring you leads should incentivize you to be proactive in engaging with reviewers and potential shoppers in order to improve on something that is already beneficial for your business.
Contrary to many offline marketing strategies that can be quite costly and minimally effective, review sites will truly give small-business owners a low- to no-entry cost opportunity to compete in a level playing field against larger business organizations.
Online Reviews Help Your Online Presence
As a small business, you might not have a big budget for online marketing, search engine optimization, and Google campaigns. Chances are your website is a simple business card that can only be found if a customer already has your URL.
If this scenario sounds familiar, know that popular review sites like Yelp, MerchantCircle, Yellow Pages, Google Reviews, Facebook Reviews, and specialized niche sites like OpenTable are the best thing that has happened to your online presence since sliced bread.
Review sites will provide potential shoppers many entry points designed to direct them to your business. Because they tend to rank better than specific businesses for category searches, such as “best beauty salon in New York,” having your website listed and ready to welcome potential customers offers endless potential. It is a unique chance for consumers to compare you against similar providers, and choose you as preferred provider based on the unique qualities and attributes conveyed in reviews posted by prior customers.
Yes! Chances are review sites can catapult your business into fame without you ever spending a penny in online marketing. Don’t miss out on this opportunity that has revolutionized the way small businesses reach and secure new, qualified leads.
Reviews Provide You with Priceless Business Intelligence
Up until a decade or so ago, if you wanted to know what you were doing right or doing wrong, you had to result to limited and archaic surveys, feedback boxes, or expensive consultants. Reviews have radically changed that. Now you can track reviews trends in real time, and correct issues before they impact your customers long enough to cause permanent damage to the reputation of your business.
Well-managed and carefully tracked reviews can paint a complete picture of what really matters to your customers and equip you to make business decisions that are fully backed up by the preferences of those who matter the most: your customers. Business data available on review sites can help a business make decisions such as menu development, culling of inventories, and customer-service training.
Make it a point to develop a culture of listeners that will do what it takes to make expedient changes in your business organization. As a result, you will start witnessing positive operational changes and significant online reputation management improvements.