Running a small business has rewards and challenges. Among the challenges, you need to consider which of the tactics of big business have value and can help you grow.
Undoubtedly you’ve read and probably rely on online reviews when choosing who to give your business to. You may even be in the habit of leaving a review of a product, service, or business place. But have you been a little shy about including reviews on your website?
You might think your business is too small. Or you might worry that people will leave a bad review. But there are many ways that online reviews can help even the smallest business. And don’t worry about getting bad reviews. They sometimes come with a silver lining.
Here are three ways online reviews can help you grow your small business:
#1 Gather Testimonials
Whether you’re selling a product or offering your services, testimonials from satisfied customers can help you get new business. That’s because people searching online for a product or service appreciate reading what others have to say; it helps them make their decision to buy or at least explore further.
There are many ways to get testimonials, but reviews are among the easiest. They can be shared easily via social media, and you can highlight them on your landing pages, making it easy for people checking you out to find them.
#2 Build Your Brand
Having online reviews can help you build your brand. Just the fact that you have reviews on your website will send a subtle signal to site visitors that you’re serious about doing business.
Especially if the product or services you offer require a significant investment, or are priced higher than competitors, you can expect that prospects will want to check you out before parting with their money or trusting you with their work. If they don’t find ratings or comments about you, they are likely to move on to one of your competitors they deem more trustworthy.
Of course, it’s great if all your reviews are positive. But don’t be afraid of some negative reviews. Some consumers consider reviews more authentic if they’re not all positive. And how you respond to a negative review can assure prospects that you would deal well with them if there is a problem.
#3 Strengthen Accountability
Even those of us who work from home are accountable to the marketplace. There must be a demand for our products or services, and we must meet or exceed customer expectations to compete.
Online reviews can help with this because by inviting our customers or clients to leave a review, we’re liable to hear from those who think we fell short in some way, in addition to those who love us.
This can help us grow in two ways:
- Feedback from customers is always beneficial. It helps us see ourselves through the eyes of a consumer and may help us see ways we can improve.
- Sadly, we may not know a customer is unhappy unless we see it in a review. People interact with the digital world in many ways. When you offer a way to leave an online review, they may use it as a way to express displeasure instead of sending you an email or calling. By responding to the complaint with integrity, you’re showing potential customers that you care.
Martha Stewart, who started her catering business in her basement and grew it into a multi-million-dollar media enterprise. I’ve found her comments about entrepreneurship inspiring, and they provide a reminder of why we should not be afraid of online reviews.
Stewart says entrepreneurs have more faith in themselves than other people, and I think she’s right. You have to have confidence in yourself to be in business. If you approach having online comments on your website with the same spirit, you’ll do just fine.
Perhaps more than being afraid of reviews you should be concerned that you’ll set up a review section and get no comments. No one likes to be the first to leave a review or comment, but there are lots of ways that you can prime the pump, so to speak.
How to Get Reviews
Do you know the very best way to get reviews? It’s simple. Just provide excellent service or offer a fantastic product.
Still, you sometimes have to work to get a lively review section going on your website.
Here are some tips to help:
- Have a rating form on your site and include a link to it on your receipts or in an email thanking a customer for doing business with you.
- If you’ve just launched a rating section —or a new Yelp page — send an email to past customers. Thank them for their past business and invite them to leave a comment (with a link to your form from the email).
- You can ask customers or clients who may have previously expressed their satisfaction in some other way to leave a review.
Once you have some reviews and a system for inviting comments, you’ll find that the section should take care of itself.
Take the High Road
It’s possible that you’ll have a negative review on your website or somewhere else on the internet. Whether it’s fair or not, it will likely hurt, and you need to be prepared to know how to deal with such a situation.
You might not have expected the military to help your home-based business, but the Air Force Public Affairs Agency has published an infographic that provides excellent guidance. Although it was designed to assess negative comments on blogs, it provides equally good guidance for dealing with negative ratings.
If you concur with the negative rating, undoubtedly you will contact your client and do what you can to make things right. Many times the customer will be so appreciative that they will either delete their negative comment or update it to let people know that you were responsive and took care of them.
Other situations may be more difficult. It’s a sad fact that some online trolls just like to be nasty. But the good thing is that if you have happy customers, they’re likely to jump in and negate the mean things that might have been said about you. Sometimes you just need to sit back and watch.
Setting up a section of your website for online reviews or comments about your small business can have many advantages and is not that difficult to manage or promote.
People are much more likely to read reviews than leave them, and most people who do will leave positive ratings. Be fearless and let your customer or client reviews help you advance your brand and build your business.
Business & Finance Articles on Business 2 Community