In order to understand the importance of your small business reputation online, we first need to understand a prospect’s intent. A prospect, the person who is in need of your services, but is currently unaware of your services, will turn to family, friends, and online social spaces for referrals. In addition, your prospect will also use Google to locate options in the area. For all scenarios, a smart prospect will continue to find more information to influence their decision on what product or service they will ultimately choose.
Understanding The Local Searcher
There are 2 main phases a searcher will go through during local search for products and services. The first phase, called Discovery Search, is the initial search a person will perform to begin their process of identifying possible solutions for their current need or want (e.g. looking for a local restaurant, plumber, cleaning service, etc). The next phase, called Due Diligence Search, is the follow-up search performed by a person who is looking for detailed information about a selected result from the Discovery Search, or from referral, social, or word-of-mouth marketing.
In both Discovery Search and Due Diligence search, a searcher will be exposed to the online reputations of the local providers appearing in the results. At this point, a searcher is more inclined to make a decision on which provider to choose simply based upon the visible ratings and reviews. This is why it is critical for small businesses to build and maintain a high integrity reputation in search and social spaces on the web.
What your prospects and customers see about your small business is all they know.
A searcher will be drawn to the 1 to 5 (Sometimes 1 to 10) stars a business can receive from customers. Before the searcher will look any further, they will want to see a strong rating, at or close to 5 stars, with a higher quantity of provided ratings. Compared to the competition visible in search, a small business will receive more attention purely based on the higher quantity and rating.
For search engines, these ratings also help determine rankings and search visibility, meaning a higher rated small business can potentially rank higher in search results. For local search results, the star rating can quickly separate your small business from the competition.
Often, but not always, included with a star rating is a customer’s anecdote of their experience with the small business’ products, services, and team members.
Energized customers will be the type of customer who will leave an online review, whether that energy is positive or negative. Searchers will seek out the negative experiences from the reviews of a small business, and scour positive experiences for details that can shed light on their own growing perceived expectations.
Online reviews also help provide accuracy and authority that search engines seek to aid in the ranking of search results. The descriptions within the reviews contain keywords of your products and services, which help search engines identify and quantify your small business web presence.
Beyond a star rating and online reviews are the comments that the people around the business, including the people in the business, share in conversations online. Often, these comments can be provided in responses to online reviews, support topics on social media, and conversations found in online articles and posts.
To the searching prospect, these comments and conversations are powerful, as they allow them to see the interactions from a small business with its customers. Witnessing a positive or negative interaction from a small business has a profound effect in a prospects judgment.
A testimonial is a shared customer experience provided directly to the small business for use as needed. Testimonials can be found in the marketing and sales resources a small business has made available for generating new business. Testimonials are best utilized when they are provided by customers who can be recognized and have influence in the community.
For a searcher and prospect, a testimonial can create immediate trust and perceived authority. The quantity and quality of testimonials can be directly related to a prospect’s perception of your small business. For this reason, it is generally considered a good strategy to use testimonials in your online marketing and sales resources when possible.
Using Your Small Business Reputation For Marketing And Sales
When you know where your online reputation stands, it gives you the ability to wield it as you need. You can hold a sense of pride and make statements like “See our online reviews and testimonials.” or “We’ve been rated 5 stars by more than 50 happy customers.”
Including testimonials from influencers on your website landing pages and social media can deliver immediate trust and authority for your small business. Continually adding testimonials throughout your web presence shows how active your small business is, as well as how hard it works to satisfy customers.
The more reviews your customers provide can have a snowball effect, where each customer feels compelled to share their amazing experience with your small business with everyone they know, resulting in rapid word-of-mouth marketing.
Reaching this level of confidence in your small business reputation can only be achieved by focusing on building your reputation. Don’t expect your customers to line up and give you their feedback, reviews, and testimonials. You are going to need to take the step and ask and follow up on the ask in order to get what you need to build your small business reputation. This can seem like a daunting task, but Mediaryte has the tool that can help.
The Customer Review System
As a small business owner, your effort for achieving higher ratings, more online reviews, comments, and testimonials can be rewarding and very lucrative. However, the challenge is being able to accurately determine when to ask for customer reviews and how to provide a convenient method for customers to provide those reviews. Our Customer Review System was created for this purpose. It takes away the challenge of obtaining powerful customer reviews by providing a simple tool and process where there hasn’t been one before.
The Customer Review System also removes the fear and pain of potentially receiving harmful reviews by identifying negative experiences and generating private, yet insightful, customer feedback.
Lastly, the CRS will collect powerful testimonials for your small business to use in marketing and sales resources. The testimonials come directly to you, ready for you to use as you see fit.
How is your small business reputation affecting your marketing performance?
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