By David Carleton
Let’s face it: Nobody is going to b
uy a $10,000 hot tub, a $20,000 swim spa or a $50,000 in-ground pool before checking out your company’s reputation online. Having high-quality reviews on a variety of sites can make the difference in a prospect buying from you or your competition.
Why Reviews Are Important
Reviews build trust, get attention and can help overcome skepticism even on the toughest buyers. Reviews are “social proof” third-party endorsements. They will help you close sales forever.
According to recent research released from the Bright Local Online Review Survey:
- 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
- 54 percent will visit the website after reading positive reviews
- 73 percent of consumers think that reviews older than three months are no longer relevant
- 58 percent say that the star rating of a business is most important
- 94 percent would use a business if they had at least four stars. And 100 percent would consider a business with five stars.
This information clearly indicates that you need to get more reviews, more frequently and with higher star ratings.
The Hidden Benefits of Customer Reviews — User Generated Content
The obvious benefits of getting positive customer reviews are things like increased sales, more online visibility and, it is hoped, more website traffic. But there are some hidden benefits of customer reviews.
Dealers are always trying to come up with new ideas and content to keep their website fresh and relevant. It’s user-generated content, or UGC: which means you don’t have come up with content yourself. Satisfied customers are doing it for you, and it’s free. Reviews also give you real news you can share on Facebook and other social media sites.
Another hidden benefit of UGC reviews: You can repurpose them into video testimonials. This takes a one-dimensional written review and turns it into multidimensional video review that can be seen and heard. See examples of repurposed video testimonials at goo.gl/PTlpuY.
Upload those videos to YouTube, Google Plus and Facebook, and add them to the testimonials page of your website. These videos help you stand out in search-engine results; most search engines show a video thumbnail, which leads to higher click-thru rates.
Realities and Issues with Most Review Sites
Most pool, spa and sauna dealers just add Yelp or Google Plus “Review Us” buttons to their website and hope for the best, but there are many issues associated with that strategy.
For your customers to post a review on Google Plus, they need a Gmail account. If they don’t, you’re asking them to go to Google, sign up for Gmail, put in their name and email address, birthday, etc., and then post a review for you. Very few if any will do this.
Many dealers send customers to their Google Plus page, and finding where to post a review can be challenging. Google has changed the layout of Google Plus several times over the last few years, and the most recent version doesn’t have a reviews icon anymore.
Many positive reviews are never seen because of the review site’s algorithms. This is especially true when a customer is leaving a review for the first time, or reviewers don’t select a star rating. Many dealers tell me this happens a lot with Yelp. So sometimes you can’t find a specific positive review your customer left without scrolling down to where it says something like “more reviews” or “reviews not currently recommended.”
Currently, prospects wanting to research your reviews have to go to multiple sites to get an overview of your company’s reputation. Each review site has their own average rating, which is not affected by other sites. On Google Plus, you may have a 4.2 average star rating, Yelp’s may be 3.8 and Facebook’s a 5.0. None of the sites is connected to each other to form a total average rating, which would make it easier for consumers.
Both positive and negative reviews show up on these third-party review sites. There is no warning that alerts you that you’ll be getting a bad review. Having a system that would alert you to a problem before it tuned into a published negative review would be ideal so you could immediately address the issue or fix the problem.
Creating an Automated Review System
The best strategy to address those concerns is to create an automated review system that you could add to your website that lets customers leave reviews for many sites, regardless of whether they have a Gmail or Yelp account.The Perfect Automated Reviews System
Many dealers tell me their ideal review systems would:
- Import and consolidate reviews from multiple review sites like Google Plus, Facebook or Yelp, and combine them on one page on their website.
- Proactively gather feedback and reviews from customers.
- Alert you when someone leaves a review, whether good or bad.
- Automatically send thank-you emails for positive reviews.
- Automatically respond to negative reviews.
- Minimize negative reviews.
Provide easy access to leave a review on a variety of review sites. Improve your reviews visibility on sites like Google, Bing and Yahoo.
- Work 24/7 and be totally automated to let you focus on running your business.
Does such a system exist? Yes. In part two of this article, I’ll show you just how it works.
David Carleton is president of SpaPoolMarketingSuccess.com, a company that helps dealers get more from their marketing and advertising using unique strategies in lead generation and conversion, internet marketing and social media. To learn more, call 858-442-3131 or go to SpaPoolMarketingSuccess.com.