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Are Online Reviews Really That Important for Local Business Owners?

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.

Why?

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!

Are Online Reviews on Local Business Directories Really Worth It?

Making the switch from offline marketing to online marketing has been tough for many local shop and restaurant owners. After all, they wonder if it’s really necessary to cater to online shoppers when their business is likely located only a few miles away from them. But with the advent of local business directories, that thinking has gone away.

Why? Because having a local business listing—along with all the online reviews that come with it—is the core foundation of a quality and effective online marketing campaign for local businesses.

Let’s take this theory apart and find out how you use can leverage online marketing and online reviews to attract more customers to your store.

Why Do I Need to Use Online Marketing for a Local Business?

You would think that it makes more sense to use offline marketing tools to reach local customers, but that’s not the way the world operates anymore. In fact, studies show that almost 100 percent of shoppers use local business directories to find local shops and restaurants.

That means if your local business can’t be found online, chances are you’re missing out on a lot of business.

The change came about once people realized that they could go online to look for the things they wanted to buy. At first, local marketers were afraid that would be the end of local business sales, but it turns out that’s just not true. Studies show that people still want to shop locally, but they just go about finding all those wonderful local stores differently than they did in the past.

The Old Vs. New Way

Not that long ago, it was common to pull out the local Yellow Pages when you wanted to find a local business. People would thumb through the book to find that local furniture store, dress shop, or bakery. But then came along the internet and everything changed.

People quickly realized that by going online to find what they needed, they could save time and sometimes money. So, they began to look for local businesses online.

But there was a problem.

The large search engines weren’t that great at helping people find local businesses. In fact, people used to have to tell the search engines what city or town they were looking in. For example, if someone from San Antonio, Texas wanted to find a local car repair shop, they had to enter “San Antonio car repair” into the large search engine.

But they typically got more than they bargained for. Instead of seeing a list of San Antonio car repair shops, they also saw articles about car repair and even books on major booksellers about the art of car repair. Oftentimes, they ended up frustrated.

But then came along local business directories. And what happened next changed the way local business owners find and attract new customers.

Before we tell you all about local business directories, check out this quick video that sums up why local marketing is so important to your local business.

What is a Local Business Directory?

Local businesses need a way to replace the old Yellow Pages that consumers had always relied on to find local businesses. Clearly, the large search engines weren’t the best way to find those shops and restaurants because it was too frustrating, no matter how many changes the large search engines made to their algorithms.

And that’s when some genius came up with the idea of local business directories. A local business directory operates just like a large search engine, except it only shows searchers the results they’re actually looking for.

For example, if that person from San Antonio logged onto a local business directory like FindUsLocal.com, they would simply type “auto repair shop” into the local directory’s search engine bar and they would instantly see a list of all the auto repair shops in San Antonio.

That’s much better, don’t you think?

So do all the consumers who use local business directories on a daily basis.

What About Those Online Reviews?

We started this article with a promise to tell you why online reviews are so important to owners of local shops and restaurants. But we felt it was necessary to give you some background so you would understand how local business directories play into our explanation.

You see, when consumers stopped using offline methods of finding local businesses, they quickly adapted to some other methods of evaluating those local shops and restaurants to determine whether or not they wanted to visit them.

And that’s where online reviews come in.

In the past, people would ask their friends, family, and neighbors to give them a recommendation for a local shop or restaurant. But today’s consumers trust online reviews even more than those personal recommendations. That’s what the latest studies show.

Nowadays, if a local business doesn’t have a good amount of online reviews, shoppers are hesitant to take a chance on them. They want that social proof that shows others have had a great experience with the local shop or restaurant they’re thinking about going to.

And having plenty of complimentary online reviews is the best way to get that social proof. But it isn’t very effective to ask your customers to leave online reviews for your local business without having a place to point them to. Otherwise, you will have a few online reviews here and a few online reviews there, which add up to a lot of social proof.

The Alternative

The alternative when asking for online reviews is to point your customers to a local business listing so all your reviews show up in one place. This local business listing can become your local shop or restaurant’s hub of business and it can dramatically increase your sales if you handle it correctly.

Before You Ask for Those Online Reviews

Before you begin asking customers for online reviews, you need to set up your free local business listing on a reputable local business directory like FindUsLocal.com. You can do this in about ten minutes. Simply log onto FindUsLocal and click on the “Add My Business” button located in the top right hand corner.

Next, fill in all the applicable details about your business. Be sure to input the correct business name, address, and phone number. And don’t forget to include important details like your store hours, directions, what types of payment you accept, and the brands you carry—or the food you serve.

How to Get Customers to Leave Online Reviews

Now that you have a place for customers to leave your business online reviews—your local business listing—it’s time to drive them there to leave those all-important reviews.

And here’s the most important way to do that: ask them. Studies show that customers are more than happy to leave online reviews for businesses is they’re asked. Train your cashiers to ask every customer at checkout to leave a review. You can also leave flyers around your store or post a sign asking people to leave your business an online review.

Are You Ready to Boost Your Local Business?

If you’re ready to take the next step in your business, it’s time to create your free local business listing and put your business in front of all the shoppers who look online for local businesses. Why not take the next ten minutes to do something that could put your local business on the map?

Online Reviews: Everything You Need to Know

Do you run a retail business? If so, chances are that you have had to make a lot of changes to your local marketing efforts in the past decade. What caused this shift in retail marketing? One word: the internet.

Before the internet came along, local shop owners brought new customers in the door in a variety of offline marketing ways. For instance, some of them held local contests or got involved with their local community in a way that put their business in front of potential customers. Some set up booths in fairs, while others sponsored little league teams or girl’s gymnastics teams.

Other forms of local marketing were sending coupons in the mail, putting physical flyers on the doors in the entire neighborhood, and running ads in the local Yellow Pages.

But local business owners who make use of these methods today aren’t likely getting many new customers. That’s because today’s shoppers use the internet to find local businesses, even when that business is right around the corner from them.

So, what’s the answer? Local business directories and reviews.

Here’s a quick 30-second video showing you how important they are:

What Are Local Business Directories?

Local business directories are a lot like the old school Yellow Pages. It’s a place where consumers can find local businesses in the town or city they live in. But unlike the Yellow Pages, people don’t have to lug around a heavy book or give up in frustration because the business they wanted to find didn’t think to run an ad in the book that year.

Oh, wait, that still happens.

Local Business Directories: What Not to Do

When a potential customer logs onto a local business directory like FindUsLocal.com, can they find your business? And if they do, will they find your correct business name, address, phone number, or website?

You would be surprised at how many outdated local business listings there are. And what do you think happens when a potential customer finds incorrect information about your business?

Maybe they drive to the wrong location. Or perhaps they try to call you to find out what time you close and get a disconnected number. Or maybe they go to the website listed on your free business listing and it’s no longer there.

All of that adds up to one thing: lost customers.

Local Business Directories: What to Do

Now that you know what not to do, let’s take a look at how to effectively use local business directories to drive customers to your store, shop, or restaurant.

First, it’s important that all of the information on your free local business listing is updated and accurate. And don’t think that no information exists if you didn’t add it.

Local business directories index all of the available information about local businesses in an area and publish that online. And if the information is outdated, that’s what customers see.

So, your first step in the process is to go to a credible local business directory like FindUsLocal.com and look for your business. Start by typing in your business’ name in the search bar on the directory. Then, once it comes up, look at the information provided. Does it list your proper business name? The correct address? Can customers reach you on the phone number that’s listed? What about your website address? Is it correct?

If the information is out of date or incorrect, claim the listing as the owner of the business. Then, change the information in the listing until it’s correct. And if you can add anything that will entice potential customers to visit your business, do so. For instance, if you own a local restaurant, write about some of your best selling dishes. Or if you run a bookshop, highlight an author signing or a sale you plan to run.

Once you’ve updated the information in your free local business listing, you won’t lose any more business because of bad information.

But you’re not finished.

That’s because setting up your free local business listing and making sure the information is correct is only the first step in using local business directories to market your business.

Next Step: Get Those Reviews

If you’ve bought anything in the past few years, you probably held off on your buying decision until you read a few online reviews. That’s what most people do. And consumers trust online reviews.

In fact, studies show that people trust online reviews more than they trust a personal recommendation from a close friend or family member. In other words, you need some online reviews to complete your local business listing. If you don’t have any, you won’t have that social proof that is so important in today’s local marketing strategies.

How to Get Online Reviews

You know you need online reviews to grow your business, but getting them can seem overwhelming. After all, don’t customers hate it when you ask them to leave a review for your business?

It turns out, they don’t. In fact, more studies show that people are more than willing to leave online reviews for local businesses if they’re asked. What does that mean for you? It means you have to start asking your customers to leave online reviews for your local business.

How to Ask for Online Reviews

Asking for online reviews can seem scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some great tips that will help you get plenty of online reviews. And once you have them, potential customers will feel more at ease when making the decision to shop at your store or eat at your restaurant.

End things with an ask

Every customer that comes to your store and buys something has to go through the checkout process. And this is the point in their shopping experience when they are happiest with your business. They’ve found the perfect product or ate a wonderful meal. And chances are, they’re feeling pretty charitable about it.

That’s why you see so many local business owners instructing their staff to ask every customer who goes through the checkout process to leave an online review. And if you make the process rewarding, they’ll be even more likely to leave a review.

For instance, you can hold a drawing for a prize once a month for everyone who leaves online reviews. Or you can offer anyone who leaves an online review a discount after it’s published.

Make it easy

Another great way to rack up a lot of online reviews is to make it easy for your customers to leave them. When you create your free local business listing, that listing will have a permanent address of the local business directory. Capture that URL and print it on all of your business promotional materials.

For instance, you can print the address on your business cards, the back of staff t-shirts or uniforms, on your stationery, invoices, and anything else you give to customers. You can also ask for an online review with a large sign hanging in your store or restaurant, and then be sure to include the URL. You’d be surprised at how many people will copy down the address and leave you a review.

Don’t be silent

Finally, when trying to build the number of online reviews of your local business, it’s important that you interact with the people who leave them. When someone leaves you a positive review, be sure to comment on it and thank them for their kind words. And when someone leaves a not so kind review, interact with them, too.

But don’t get defensive or be ugly to the bad reviewer.

Instead, acknowledge their point and pledge to fix whatever problem they would with your business. If it was a rude employee, promise to increase training and deal with that particular employee. If it was a bad meal, ask for specific feedback so you can improve your offerings.

The reason you should reply to bad reviewers is to accomplish two things. First, you should learn from the mistakes and work to improve them. If you don’t’ know about something that causes distress for customers, you can’t fix it.

Secondly, you should respond to bad reviews because potential customers are watching. And they want to know that you are a business owner who takes complaints seriously and works to improve the experience of your customers.

Do You Have a Free Local Business Listing?

If you haven’t already claimed your free local business listing at FindUsLocal.com, what are you waiting for? Millions of customers go to local business directories every day and search for local businesses. In fact, people are probably searching FindUsLocal.com for a business just like yours right now. What will they do when they can’t find your business? They’ll go to your competitor instead.

Don’t let that happen to you.

Head on over to FindUsLocal.com right now and claim your free local business listing. Then, update the information and start asking your customers for reviews. It’s the best thing you can do to grow your local business in 2019 and beyond.