The majority of local traffic comes from online reviews. So, if your local retail shop has not yet claimed it’s profile on the many online reputation platforms, then you are missing out on the most valuable tool that will drive traffic to you. Their are a lot of online reputation platforms that differ in many ways and offer different benefits to you and your customers. Understanding this and choosing not to just pay attention to the major ones will help you drive traffic from multiple online sources.
Word of mouth has always been the most powerful form of marketing for small and large businesses alike. Larger enterprises have used this vehicle to attract a lot of customers and grow their businesses along with other marketing tools that helps them amplify their efforts. In this post we will discuss how your local retail shop can utilize the power of online customer reviews and increase their frequency to grow.
What is Online Word of Mouth Marketing?
Online word-of-mouth, electronic word-of-mouth or as we like to call it at Nodat “community marketing” amplifies the power of the word-of-mouth marketing that your customers are currently doing for you. When you encourage and empower your customers to take their marketing online, it allows their influence to reach more people in and outside of their immediate networks. This turns your customer into an online marketer for you.
Side Note: Community marketing is a strategy we use to help small local businesses grow by soliciting your community of customers to become brand evangelist and participating in the growth of your business. It is a powerful strategy that will not only help increase the number and frequency of your online reviews but will also increase brand engagement and loyalty.
Before we share what you should be doing, first, let’s make a quick note about what you should not be doing to increase your online reviews.
- Don’t cheat. Don’t ever try to get a lot of reviews quickly in an nonorganic way. There are a lot of online review Facebook groups and Telegram groups that work like a review chain for fake reviews. This is not good for your business and Google will pick it up quickly and flag your business reviews and they won’t show them. Plus, potential customers will be able to spot this type of content right away, which will make your business seem untrustworthy.
Now that’s been said, let’s talk about what you should do to increase the frequency of online reviews for your local retail shop.
Offer excellent customer service.
This goes without saying, but we have to say it because it is the most effective way to compel a customer to take time out of their day to tell others about how wonderful you are. In our research, we found that customers will write a review without being asked, if the customer service is above and beyond their expectations or when they have a negative experience on any level. If you treat your customers like they are the most important part of your business and make them feel like you want them to be involved, then they will be excited to participate in the success of your business, which compels them to share what they know about you to their networks. We also found that after receiving “good customer service” most customers do not immediately think to write about that experience online. So, going above and beyond and offering your customers consistent above average customer service is key.
Claim your Google My Business profile.
Google is one of the busiest sources of traffic for local businesses. So, your profile on their platform is like your billboard on the digital highway. While actual billboards cost money, this one is absolutely free and easy to claim and setup. According to Google, 46% of all searches have a local intent. Not only will the Google My Business profile increase the chances and frequency of your retail shop showing in online search results, it also allows it to show up in the Google Maps search. 83% of the time, consumers conduct a local search on their mobile phones and are usually searching for the closest business to them through the Google Maps app because it is quick and easy for them to do.
Show up in Google’s Local Pack.
The local pack is a section on Google’s search results that shows the local businesses related to your customer’s search. Google’s Pack used to show the top 7 local businesses for a search query until recently. Google has now limited this space to show a 3-Pack of paid ads for certain searches bringing the organic listings down to just 2. If you are running ads with Google Adwords then you want to aim for your local retail shop to show up in the 3-Pack and if you are not running an Adwords campaign then you should aim to show organically in one of the other 2 slots. Simply creating your Google My Business listing helps your local retail store show up in this prime area. This offers a HUGE benefit for your local visibility and adds more power to your Google reviews.
Ask for Reviews in Your Email Marketing.
Email marketing is another powerful way to increase your online review generation. Once you understand the path of your customer-life-cycle you learn when to expect and when to ask for a review. You can include the request in your company newsletter with the link directly to the platform where you want your customers to write a review. It would be ideal for your customer to leave a review immediately after doing business with you, however most customers take a couple of days sometimes weeks before they write a review. One thing you could do to speed up this process is to offer a newsletter feature and encourage customers to write reviews to be featured in your newsletter. Let them know how this feature will help other locals in their community and identify them an ambassador for your brand.
Mention Online Communities to Your Customers.
Share all of your online community information with your customers to make it easy for them to follow you and interact with you whenever and wherever they are. When asking your customers to do something for you, it is only polite to make it easy for them to do it and easy access is they way to go. Integrate different marketing channels because not all customers are the same. Which means, you will have some who like Facebook, some who like Twitter, some who like Yelp and some who like Nodat. You are the one who wants and needs the review, so it is your responsibility to be where your customer is at all times. If there is a preferred platform where you focus most of your marketing attention, then you can share the benefits of being on that platform to your customer and send them an invite to join that community as well.
Implement these steps and make the effort to connect with your customers and you will begin to see an increase in your online review generation in no time.