We’re always likely to value a word of mouth recommendation from friends or family, but in our increasingly digital society, the impact of online reviews is also on the rise. A 2018 survey by SEO specialist BrightLocal revealed that 86% of customers now read online reviews for local businesses and 78% trust these as much as personal recommendations. It’s an impressive statistic, particularly given there’s now more awareness of “bots” and “fake” reviews skewing numbers.
Knowing your search results
With so many customers looking online for reviews before they visit a business, you need to be aware of what they’re seeing when they search for your company. In fact, many salons and spas have remarkably similar results. Typically, you’ll find a couple of links through to your website, followed by social media profiles – usually, Facebook and Instagram. If you’ve set your company up on the Google My Business feature, then customers should see more information on your salon at the side of the screen.
In these search results, Facebook and Google make your reviews (both the number and the average star rating) very visible. In addition, Google will often show snippets of comments from your reviewers – giving an instant recommendation for your business.
It’s because these features are so visible that they are so important, and why you should be taking advantage of them to the fullest. Think of it from a consumer’s point of view. A business that proudly shows off lots of highranked reviews online is much more likely to get their attention than one with too few, or that’s hiding them away. Making it easy for potential customers to feel confident in your business is a quick and easy win.
Online reviews: dos and don’ts
Obviously, if you’re not already asking your customers to leave you reviews online then you should start doing so. But if you are – and you’re not getting results – then consider which of your customers you’re asking to do this.
86% of all customers say they would consider leaving a review, but the demographics of those who actually do leave them are very different. 80% of 18-34-year-olds say they have left a review for a business – while only 41% of those aged 55-plus have done so. Regularly encouraging younger age groups to leave reviews, therefore, may be more rewarding than older ones.
One thing you must never do is harass your customers in to leaving reviews – a comment that reads “I was asked to leave this” won’t entice many new customers.
Similarly, be careful about “bribing” people in to leaving reviews with perks or competitions. Facebook’s Community Standards strictly rule out encouraging content “under false pretences”. If your customers flood your page with reviews that suggest you’ve pushed them there for their own gain, they could be flagged and harm your page. They’re also unlikely to be thoughtful reviews, and therefore would be no real benefit to your business. PB