Running a local business looks quite different than it did only 10 years ago, and that’s because of the effect the internet has had on it. But many local business owners still can’t understand the impact online marketing and advertising—along with online reviews—can have on the success of their local shop or restaurant.
After all, for years all local business owners had to do was run an ad in the Yellow Pages or take out an ad in the local newspaper. But these day, both of forms of old-school advertising are just waste of time and money.
That’s because today’s consumers look online when trying to find US local businesses. And they don’t just look anywhere—they turn to local business directories in mass. And the number one thing they look for while they’re there is online reviews.
How Important are Online Reviews for Local Business Owners?
There was a recent study that put online reviews in perspective as far as their importance to today’s consumer. It said that 85 percent of the people surveyed said that they trusted online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations from friends and family members.
That statistic alone should tell you just how important it is to have positive online reviews for your local business.
Now that you understand just how important online reviews are, let’s talk about how to get them.
Step 1: Create a Local Business Listing on a Local Business Directory
Your first step is ensuring that consumers have a place to leave a review for your business. And while it’s true that they can leave reviews on places like Yelp!, most consumers today are using boutique business directories that offer more than business listings.
For example, FindUsLocal.com is one just local business directory that provides each visitor with a customized home page for their city or town. In addition, it provides visitors with local news, information about upcoming local plays, concerts, and sporting events, and even some humorous and thoughtful features that cause consumers to visit the site time and time again.
Once you’ve identified the correct local business directory, claim your business listing and fill in all the information asked for. Be sure to include things like your store hours and any parking irregularities consumers need to know about.
Step 2: Get Some Online Reviews for Your Local Business
Once you have your free local business listing up, it’s time to work on getting some reviews for your business. The first thing you should do is change your operating procedures at checkout and begin asking every customer to leave an online review on your local business listing.
Next, you should think about soliciting prior customers who you know to be happy with your products or service. Most of the time, people are happy to leave reviews for businesses they are pleased with.
Step #:Don’t Stop Once You Have Some Reviews
Another interesting fact shown by the study is that consumers like to see recent reviews, and don’t put a lot of stock in reviews that are a few months old. That’s why it’s important for you to continually ask people who are checking out to leave a review for your business.
The study also shows that when asked to leave a review, over 70 percent of those surveyed said they would do it. That means if you put this system into practice and ask every customer who walks into your store, you will have a nice flow of online reviews in no time.
Today’s consumers demand positive online reviews before buying from a business—even a local one. If you haven’t put your review system into place, simply follow the 3 steps listed above and you’ll soon reap all the online business you’ve been out on.