Boost Your Business With Online Reviews

Online reviews are a boon to some and a bane to others, but either way, they’re here to stay. Studies show that an increasing majority of customers (upward of 60%) turn to online reviews when they are researching new products, services, or restaurants.

Why does it matter?

Online reviews help customers make choices by offering a kind of credibility through a concept called “social proof.” Social proof is just a fancy way of saying that humans look to others to inform and validate their decisions. Online reviews are perceived by potential customers as unbiased information from others who have experienced your product. 

Major online review sites like Amazon, Angie’s List, Consumer Reports, and Yelp, or industry-specific sites like Capterra, Influenster, and TripAdvisor can be places where potential customers search for the feedback prior customers have shared.

As a small to medium-sized business, you may feel overwhelmed at the thought of one more thing to track and manage, but don’t turn away. Online reviews are here to stay, and in this case ignorance isn’t bliss. It can be difficult to keep up with the various online megaphones people use, but the fact that so many turn to these tools when making decisions means they have a real impact on a business’s reputation, and owners must take them seriously.

Tips for making reviews work for you:

No one wants to see negative reviews, but they can be used to your advantage if you respond in a timely, constructive, and helpful way. Reach out with an apology, relevant information, and an offer to follow up with the customer offline. This strategy can even build greater trust with potential customers, as it shows you are paying attention and willing to work with folks.

When asking customers to write reviews, emphasize quality. Give them opportunities to weigh in with more than stars to rate their experience. Ask them to share a bit about how you helped solve a problem, or why their experience was excellent. Human brains are designed to learn through stories. We naturally remember stories much better than facts or statistics. In this way, real positive anecdotes written by customers are more meaningful and relevant than stars in a review.

The more reviews, the better. When potential customers see that many others have used your services, it adds greater social proof. If you’re starting from zero, set some milestones for yourself along the way as you build numbers of reviews. Research seems to show that you can track a measurable increase in business once you hit 50, provided they are mostly positive.

Here are a few ways to encourage people to leave reviews:

  1. Invite them to do so, either in person at the end of a transaction, as post to social media, or in an email follow up

  2. Make it easy! If you have an e-commerce site, include a review at the conclusion of a sale, or send a note with a link 7 – 10 days after your customer receives your product

  3. Incentivize reviews by providing coupon codes, drawings, or giveaways

  4. Be sure you are “mobile friendly”—most people are doing research and reviews on their phone these days

  5. When people email you thanks, anecdotes, or useful feedback, ask their permission to use the testimonial on your website, either anonymously or with their name associated

 If you’re already tracking online reviews, have you noticed an impact on your business?

If you’re preparing to begin using online reviews as part of your overall marketing strategy, what is the first step you will take? We’d love to hear!

 Resources used in this article:

7 Things You Must Understand When Leveraging Social Proof in Your Marketing

Six Ways to Make Online Reviews Work for Your Business

25 Customer Review Sites for Collecting Business & Product Reviews

How to Make Customer Reviews Work for You 

10 Ways to Encourage Customer Reviews Online

Dashboards Can Be Springboards!

“Measure everything of significance. Anything that is measured and watched, improves.” - Bob Parsons, founder of GoDaddy
 
Most businesses and nonprofits today are swimming in data, and generating more all the time. It’s stored in customer databases, inventory software, QuickBooks, marketing programs, social media platforms, and even Google Analytics. Many entrepreneurs and leaders know intuitively that this can be a powerful tool for smart decision-making, but feel overwhelmed by the prospect of mining and making sense of it all. This is where dashboards come in.
 
A Digital Dashboard is an information management tool. Dashboards create visualizations of your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) by pulling them into charts and graphs that are displayed side-by-side and updated in real time. This allows you to see trends, patterns and opportunities as they emerge.
 
Organizations of all kinds can use dashboards to help track meaningful metrics, for example: nonprofit fundraising or grant administration, marketing strategies, accounts payable and receivable, sales, lead generation, web traffic, project management, etc. Businesses and nonprofits working in healthcare, finance, insurance, small manufacturing, retail sales, customer service, education, conservation, and more. See some examples of different industry dashboards here.
 
With all of this information clearly visualized, accessible, and at your fingertips, your stress will go down and your productivity will increase!
 
Need help honing in on your KPIs? Would a few tweaks to your existing systems help you gather data that can be translated into a dashboard for smart decision making? Give Clarity a call or drop us a line. Together we can design a system that works for you, keeping you fit and moving forward.
 
Sources for this article:
Wikipedia 
The Best Business Dashboard Apps for Small Businesses
 
Best practices when designing dashboards:
Data Dashboards for Small Business
 
For Nonprofits:
Models & Components of a Great Nonprofit Dashboard
 
A few examples of companies providing dashboards for small business:
Klipfolio
Dasheroo 
Tableau 
iDashboard