If you run a local business, you may not give much thought to online reviews. But the truth is that you should. In fact, getting online reviews may be one of the most important things you can do to increase your local sales.
Because today’s local customers go online to find out about a company before they ever walk through their doors.
Let’s dig in and find out how getting online reviews could be the smartest thing you could do for your local shop or restaurant.
Why Local Business Owners Should Worry About Online Reviews
In the past, local business owners relied on local marketing efforts to get the word out about their business. They ran ads in the local Yellow Pages, newspapers, and sent coupons to potential customers through the mail. But today, most of those local marketing efforts don’t work anymore.
Instead, we’ve become an online society, and even those business owners who don’t operate online need to make sure their business is seen in the online world.
And the best way to do that is to make use of online reviews for local business owners.
What Are Online Reviews?
People used to rely on their friends and family to find out about great restaurants or the best local places to shop. But once people began to rely on the internet, they also started to look online for those recommendations. And that’s where online reviews come in.
When someone visits a local shop, service business, or restaurant, they have the option of leaving a review for that business online. That’s called an online review. They can leave it on the business’ website it if has one, but most often, they leave them on local business directories.
Local business directories are places where shoppers can find all the information they need about a local business. They can log onto one of these sites to find the business’ address, phone number, store hours, and what other people have to say about it. And they learn this information from online reviews.
The online reviews speak of a customer’s experience at a local business. It can spell out the positive things that happened at the business, or if the customer had a bad experience, the negative ones. Studies show that today’s consumers rely on online reviews to make a decision about whether or not to visit a local business. In fact, many shoppers won’t even consider going to a new business unless they’ve first read all about it via the online reviews.
Remember how we told you that in the past people relied on friends and family to find local businesses? Today, they rely on online reviews. In fact, some studies show that shoppers trust online reviews more than they trust personal recommendations from their friends and family about local businesses.
Can you see why having online reviews is so important to your local business?
Before we tell you how to get online reviews, take a look at this short video that explains what a local business directory is and why your business should be on one—especially for the online reviews:
How to Get Online Reviews for Your Local Business
Now that you understand the importance of getting online reviews for your business, it’s time to learn how to do it. Luckily, it’s not difficult to get the reviews you need to give new customers the confidence to visit your shop or restaurant.
Here are the steps you need to take.
Set Up a Free Local Business Listing
Your first step in getting online reviews is to create a free local business listing. This listing will provide a place for your customers to leave the reviews. But when looking for a local business directory to sign up at, it’s important to find a credible directory that ranks highly on the major search engines.
For instance, FindUsLocal.com is one such directory. That’s because FindUsLocal offers a lot more than local business listings to its visitors. It also offers them local news, the local weather, and news about the events and sporting events coming to the area.
Once you decide on a local business directory, do a search on the directory for your business name. After you find it, claim it as the business owner and set up the listing by filling in the details. You will want to add your business name, business address, business phone number, store hours, the types of payments you accept, a listing of the brands you carry or the foods you serve, and anything else shoppers will need to know before visiting your shop or restaurant.
Tell Your Customers About Your New Listing
After you’ve created your free local business listing, it’s time to let your customers know about it. You can print cards with the URL or hang a sign in your business. Let them know that you need as many online reviews as you can get so other shoppers will feel comfortable visiting your shop. Then, ask them to leave an online review for your business.
And don’t worry that they will consider it a bother. Studies show that customers say they will happily leave a review for a business if they are asked. That’s why you see so many shops and restaurants ask every customer to leave an online review as they’re checking out.
To get as many online reviews as you can, create a plan that allows you and your employees to ask as many customers as possible for an online review. And if they don’t begin posting the online reviews, then think about offering an incentive to get them to do it. For example, you could offer a future discount for leaving a review, or you could enter everyone who leaves a review into a monthly content with a prize from your store or a free meal if you own a restaurant.
Keep Tabs on Your Online Reviews
As you see the online reviews coming in, it’s important to keep tabs on them and even interact with the customers who leave them. For instance, say thank you in a public reply when a customer leaves you a positive online review. You could thank them for being such a great customer and thank them for their business.
But you need to interact with the negative online reviews, too. The trick is to do it in a way that puts the customer above your feelings. Don’t be defensive in your response, but instead, take the criticism to heart and tell the customer that you will try harder in the future. If they suffered financially because of a bad product or food, offer to make it up to them.
Online Reviews are the Best Kept Marketing Secret for Local Business Owners
If you’re looking to expand your local business, it’s time to take a look at online reviews. This marketing tactic may be simple, but it can produce incredible results for local business owners. If you don’t yet have online reviews for your local business, take the first step by creating your free local business listing on a credible local business directory like https://www.finduslocal.com/. Next, tell your customers about the listing and ask them to leave reviews.
Before long, new customers will find you in droves because of all the great things your customers are saying about your local business!