A Guide to Turning Your Seasonal Shoppers into Loyal Customers

For many small business owners, the end of the year comes with a serious upswing in sales. With so many people out and about shopping for their various holidays, you are probably going to see a surge of new faces turning to you for goods and services. While retail seems to get all the spotlight during the holiday shopping season, there are many businesses that will benefit from the winter festivities. Company parties will be looking for caterers; homeowners hosting their families will be turning to house cleaning companies; people will be headed off to nail salons, barbershops and beauty salons to get ready to look their best in photos, and weary travelers who were trapped on a plane next to a sneezy toddler may end up making a trip to urgent care. At the end of the day, no matter what kind of business you are in, we encourage you to take the time during this busy season to turn these seasonal shoppers into repeat, and even loyal, customers.

Expand upon the basics

Now more than ever, you need to showcase your very best customer service skills. With traffic, travel, looming deadlines and busier-than-ever stores, many holiday shoppers are feeling a bit more stressed out than usual. That means that they will be that much more grateful when you or your employees are able to listen to them, help them and show them that you genuinely care about their experience.

It is easier than ever to take care of all of your shopping needs online, so it is special and important when people choose to shop local and support a small business rather than go the easy route of online shopping or the cheap route of big-box retail. For many shoppers, choosing a small business is a personal choice, made either out of a desire to fuel the local economy or to experience the level of customer service you can only find in these kinds of stores. That is why it is so important to make sure you don’t neglect customer service during this busy shopping season. To read more about the importance of customer service, check out our previous blog, Why Nothing Beats Great Customer Service.

If you feel like you can definitely handle an increase in customers while maintaining your standards of customer service, then we’re going to recommend taking it up a notch and thinking about some of the ways you can expand on and exceed your customers’ expectations. If you can find a few easy ways to stand out to people now, you will have a much better chance of sticking in their minds, impressing them and, ultimately, bringing them back in to do business in the future.

You can start by making sure your store is in tip-top shape, possibly even investing in a good deep-cleaning. It might be fun to decorate the space, turning it into a winter wonderland, creating a whimsical window display, putting up a hashtag wall or going all-out with any seasonal decor of your choice.

Maybe you could offer free shipping on any in-store purchases over a certain price, giving your customers a chance to continue their shopping unencumbered by bulky bags. One surefire way to stand out is to offer the option of gift-wrapping! For many, the idea of wrapping a gift comes with an overwhelming feeling of dread, and even for those who don’t mind wrestling with yards of paper and tape, the option to save time or have a beautifully wrapped gift is a hard one to pass up.

Any way that you can enhance the experience of shopping in your store, whether by making it more beautiful or whimsical, having attentive and knowledgeable staff or by making your customers’ lives easier, the more likely you will be to stand the test of time and come to the customers’ minds the next time they are in need of whatever you provide.

Expanding on your customer service basics can also extend beyond the time your shoppers are physically in your store. At the time of checkout, if you ask for an address, you could send a hand-written thank you note to them, reminding them of your business and the excellent service they received there. This small gesture is one way you can show your customers how grateful you are that they chose your business, and reminds them of the kind of personalized attention and care they can receive when shopping with a small business. These are the kinds of things that give small businesses an advantage over the big chain stores.

Give shoppers an incentive to come back

You can expect that seasonal shoppers aren’t only shopping at your business, and with the whirlwind of shopping, cooking, travel, and family that many people experience during this season, it can all pass by in a blur to them. If you want to stand out in the memories of these shoppers, you might want to consider giving them some kind of incentive to revisit your business.

One way to incentivize shoppers to revisit your store is to offer some kind of coupon or discount on a future purchase. Remember, this does not just apply to retail stores; a home cleaning company can offer a coupon for a spring cleaning discount, like, “Redeem this coupon in April for 10% off any one cleaning service.” Someone coming in to get their hair cut and colored before visiting family for the holidays could be surprised when you offer them a free conditioning treatment with the next service. Someone who signs up for a gym membership in the month of December could be wowed when they are offered a punch card to bring along a set number of guests for free. Since they are already committed to returning, maybe you can incentivize them to bring along a friend!

Many holiday shoppers are likely to be out purchasing gift cards for family and friends, meaning they may not spend much time in your store looking around or getting an idea of the out-of-this-world customer service you provide. You can persuade them to come back and spend some more time in your business by offering coupons or discounts with the purchase of a gift card. By giving them a coupon that is good through the end of January, or by providing an offer like, “If you buy a gift card worth $25 or more, you get 15% off your next purchase,” you are inviting this shopper to come back and check out your store for themselves. There are many bigger retail locations that successfully use a similar model: “For every $50 you spend now, get $10 off between January 1st and February 12th.” Giving your shoppers a discount in order to get them back in your store could end up paying off for you in the long run when they become familiar with you and your service, and become loyal future customers.

Stay in their minds after they’ve left

In addition to staying fresh on the minds of your customers through coupons and future shopping incentives, one simple way to stand out in the minds of your customers is by offering the option to email their receipt to them.

I know full well that, when a cashier hands me a receipt, I am shoving that thing into my purse, never to be seen again. With e-receipts, you cut down on unnecessary paper waste, your customer will have a hard-to-lose digital copy of their transaction, you can craft a sweet and personalized message to accompany the receipt and you can send a follow-up thank you message to their email a few days or weeks after the transaction, reminding customers of your service and your business.

While you never want to spam your customers into a state of resentment, a well-crafted, post-holiday thank you message could be really appreciated and could make you stand out in their minds. You could even send out a discount code as a message of appreciation, reminding people of your store and giving them a tangible reason to revisit.

Be ready for returns

While we may all be out there trying our best, sometimes, we don’t quite hit the mark with the gifts we give. After the holiday rush is up, you can probably expect to see a few people coming in to make returns or exchanges. Make sure your employees are well-trained and ready to handle these requests. When a customer is making a return, it might be worth it to see if they would rather exchange their item for something else. By giving them the chance to at least take a look around your business, you give yourself the opportunity to get to know this customer and wow them with your service. Even if they don’t want anything for themselves, they may be inspired to come back and get something for someone else. Make sure that you have a process in place to handle returns and exchanges, and make sure it is a simple process for your customers.


From all of us here at Top Rated Local, have a safe and happy holiday season!

Originally published on 12/23/19

The Importance of Reviews for Small Businesses

No matter what industry your small business is in or how long it’s been around, reviews matter.

It used to be that word-of-mouth referrals were the key to small business success, and while referrals still matter in the digital age, online reviews are a must for every small business.

What the stats have to say:

  • In 2017, 97% of consumers made it a point to read reviews for making an online purchase
  • In 2016, consumers would read an average of 6 reviews before deciding to trust a business, and in 2017, that number rose to 7 reviews
  • More than 57% of consumers will eventually make a purchase from a business they’ve researched online
  • When making a buying decision, more than 46% of consumers pay attention to the quality of a business’s reviews
  • Half of all consumers will question whether to trust a business after reading negative reviews online

5 reasons why online reviews matter for small businesses

#1. Mobile search is the new driving force for local business

In the good ol’ days, most people found local businesses by word-of-mouth referrals. For instance, if you were looking for an electrician, you’d probably start by asking your friends and family or maybe your co-workers for referrals.

But today, most of us have the internet literally in our pockets, giving us the ability to find an electrician or any other local business on the spot. More and more, mobile search has become the biggest thing driving consumers to local businesses. However, consumers aren’t likely to simply put their trust in the first listing that pops up, and in order to earn their trust, reviews are key.

#2. With online reviews, the customer comes to you

It used to be that, in order to advertise your business and get your name out there, you had to use outbound forms of marketing, like television, radio and newspaper ads. Outbound marketing is all about throwing out what you have to offer to a broad audience with the hope that at least a percentage of those consumers will have a need for your product or service.

Consumer reviews, on the other hand, are an inbound marketing strategy. In order for a consumer to find your brand and your reviews, they have to be looking for a product or service you offer, which means that a far greater percentage of your audience will actually want to work with you. And it’s those reviews that turn a prospective buyer into an actual customer.

#3. Websites with the best reviews rank better organically

In this day and age, every business needs a website because, as we mentioned, that’s how people today find businesses. However, it’s not enough to simply have a website. In order to get new consumers to visit your website, it has to rank on page one.

The simple fact is that most people never look past that first page of listings, and if your website doesn’t show up, it may as well not exist. Although there are many things that go into Google’s ranking algorithm, one very important piece is reviews. Google wants to promote the best companies, and they do that by ranking websites with the best reviews higher.

#4. Reviews help to establish trust in your brand

Let’s face it, there’s a lot of competition out there, and that’s true whether you own a small retail business or a dental practice. With so many other businesses competing for the exact same customers as you, you have to be able to demonstrate to the consumer why they should take a chance on you instead of choosing the others.

It’s not enough just to have one or two positive reviews, either. The more positive reviews your business has, the more likely new consumers are to trust you. Only about 3% of consumers will trust a company after reading 1 review, but a staggering 32% will trust a company after reading 4 – 6 reviews.

#5. Reviews lead to more sales!

The driving force behind any and every business is the sales. At the end of the day, if your business isn’t making sales, it’s not making a profit, and you won’t survive. Luckily, reviews are a great way to increase your sales.

If a consumer is deciding between a similar product or service from multiple businesses, they are going to choose to purchase from the business that has the most positive reviews, plain and simple. As we mentioned in the beginning of this article, 97% of consumers will read a business’s online reviews before deciding whether to make a purchase or not, and the bottom line is that, if you don’t have reviews, you’re going to miss out on those sales.

The Marketing 360® Reputation app offers a better way to manage your reviews

Businesses have very little control over their reviews and their online reputation using most review sites, which leaves a vulnerability to illegitimate, negative reviews from disgruntled employees, competitors and other malicious reviewers. The Marketing 360® Reputation app was created to address these everyday problems, and to help businesses build and manage strong reputations.

Are you ready to become a Top Rated Local® business?

If you’re not earning positive reviews for your business, the fact is that you’re missing out on the many benefits associated with them. There are so many incredible reasons to start earning positive reviews and managing your online reputation, and the Marketing 360 Reputation app can help.

Don’t let another sale, search result or consumer pass you by. Get more reviews and build an unstoppable online reputation for your business with Marketing 360 Reputation. See our plans and pricing.

Originally published on 10/10/18

5 Easy Ways to Make Your Small Business Stand Out on Black Friday

Black Friday, the unofficial kickoff to shopping season, is finally upon us. Traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year, for many, the upcoming season can make up the majority of a business’s yearly revenue. So, you’ve got your inventory stocked, your shop cleaned up and your staff caffeinated. The competition is fierce, especially with retail giants and online shopping, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make an impact on your shoppers. We’re going to outline a few simple ways you can stand out to all the busy, likely stressed, shoppers that visit your store. It can be easy to let a day this bustling with energy rush by in a blur of customers and transactions, but remember that you have a chance to show off what makes your store so wonderful and worth facing the crowds for.

5 ways to make your small business stand out on Black Friday

Know your product

You have a significant advantage over online retailers here. If people have a question about a product, if a customer wants to see an example of what they are purchasing or if they want to know what a product looks like in another color, you have the opportunity to talk with them, show them and interact with them. You and your staff get to be the experts here, and it is important that you establish trust with your clients by showing them that you are knowledgeable and prepared.

Practice the basics

Today, more than ever, you will need to showcase your finest customer service skills. You’re busy and people are stressed, so taking the time to show them that you are willing to give them individualized care and attention will stand out that much more. These might sound like the basics, but it is more important than ever to maintain and practice them. To start, smile, or at the very least, be friendly and genuine. Make eye contact when you talk to people to show them that you are engaged and listening to them. It is important that your customers feel seen and heard, as that can make a world of difference in their overall experience. Introduce yourself and try to use people’s names when you speak with them. This added level of personalized attention will put you leagues ahead of any online retailer.

Share on social media

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to share content and show off the excitement of the day on your social media feed! Now is a great time to show your followers that people are turning up and getting what they want from your store. This might just be the motivation someone needs to get up and out of the house and into your store. This can also help you set the tone for the kind of reputation you want your business to have. Are you guys fun and silly? Genuine? You can use this day to show your audience that that is who you really are, even on what might just be the most stressful day of the year.

Say thank you

Remember to thank your customers for their support. In today’s world, it would be very easy for them to do business at a chain retailer or online, so it means something that they chose to support you. The least you could do is tell them as much. Offering some gratitude is simple, meaningful and, most likely, genuine. This one-on-one attention and care might be the reason they chose to shop at a business like yours instead of at one of the chains.

Ask for feedback

Black Friday and the approaching shopping season means an influx in traffic, and each of those customers should be reminded that you would love to get their feedback online. Ideally, you will get a huge boost in your online reviews, ultimately helping out your search engine optimization, your online presence, and your overall reputation. By remembering to provide the kind of service and attention that nobody is expecting on a day as busy as Black Friday, you’re sure to stand out in people’s minds as being a five-star establishment worthy of a five-star rating.


We here at Top Rated Local wish the best to you, your business and your customers during this busy season!

Originally published on 11/29/19

Your Guide to Showcasing Customer Reviews

Reviews are a very powerful thing for your business’ online reputation, as well as for its overall success. But have you ever wondered if there’s a way to get even more out of your reviews?

Showcase your reviews to get the most out of them!

Even if you never do anything but let your reviews sit on Google, Yelp, Facebook and any other review site they were published on, they’ll do your business a lot of good. Reviews help with everything from SEO (search engine optimization) to credibility and trustworthiness, but that’s not all they can do!

With a little know-how, you can make every five-star review you get go a lot further!

A note about showcasing reviews:

A negative review can be a powerful thing, and for reasons that are both psychological and — believe it or not — physiological — people are naturally more drawn to negative reviews and have a tendency to give them a lot more weight than positive reviews. This fact alone makes taking the time to showcase your positive reviews is well worth it.

Seven Ways to Showcase Outstanding Customer Reviews

#1. Publish reviews on your website

Your website is a great place to publish reviews you want to highlight or are especially proud of. And when you do, you may even enjoy a subsequent boost in sales, as reviews help to establish trust and give buyers more confidence.

At Top Rated Local, we’ve seen a lot of businesses publish reviews on the front page of their website, which is a great way to get attention with them, but they also work beautifully on testimonial pages, as well as relevant product pages and pages for any specific services mentioned in the reviews.

You could also utilize a positive review to give credence to what you say on your ‘About Us’ page. For example, every business says they’re the best, but when you publish a customer review also backing up your claim, your customers don’t have to take your word for it!

#2. Share reviews on social media

If a customer has left you a five-star review on your social media page, especially if it was well-written and tells a story that tugs at the heartstrings or otherwise stirs up emotion, sharing it on social media is a great way to ensure that it gets noticed.

Posting on social media is something you should be doing on a regular basis. Luckily, posting a review every now and then will give you a break from constantly having to come up with new content to publish on your social media pages, and it gives you the opportunity to thank your client for taking the time to share their experience in a public way, as well as to brag on your business without having to be the one to brag.

#3. Utilize reviews in print ads

Online reviews don’t have to be used strictly online! They are a great way to make any print advertising you do more trustworthy and comfortable. Regardless of whether you’re putting reviews in newspaper ads, magazine ads or even in direct mailers, they’ll go a long way toward making your business look good.

When it comes to adding reviews to print ads, direct mail may be your most impactful option. Surprisingly enough, in the digital age, direct mail is still an incredibly effective way to get your business’ name out there, and a lot of consumers have come to know and trust direct mail, even if they don’t love it. Because direct mail already enjoys so much trust, you can make a direct mail campaign even more effective by incorporating your online reviews in your mailers, postcards and other marketing items.

#4. Display reviews in your store/office

Some reviews are so perfect that they are worth framing — literally.

If you’ve received a real show-stopper of a review, and you’d love to spread the word about it high and low, one cute and effective way to utilize it is by printing it out in a nice font, framing it and hanging it in your store or office.

Having a great review hanging in your store or office is an effective way to remind yourself of the standard of service you want to set and reach each and every day. It also shows anyone who comes into your business what kind of service you strive to offer.

#5. Publish reviews in your monthly newsletter

Sending out a monthly newsletter is a great way to keep your customers informed about what’s going on in your business, including any promotions or sales that are coming up, any big projects you’ve recently completed, what you can help them with, etc. These newsletters are also the perfect place to share reviews that your especially proud of.

Part of your monthly newsletter should include updates on what your business has been up to for the last month, and if you’ve received a five-star review in that time, there’s no better way to showcase it than in your newsletter. Sharing reviews in a newsletter is powerful because you can give it context and add more information to help your readers get more out of it.

#6. Write about great reviews on your blog

If you know anything about SEO (search engine optimization), it’s probably that content is king — which it is. Adding fresh, unique content to your website on a regular basis is the number one most effective thing you can do to improve and maintain your website’s organic ranking on search engines. But adding all of that content on a regular basis can get old, and it’s not always easy to think of new topics to write about. Luckily, reviews help you break the mold!

You could promote your reviews on your blog in a couple of different ways:

  • Tell the story of a great experience with one customer, highlighting that specific review. If the customer is willing, you could also ask them about doing a case study with them or interviewing them further about their experience.
  • If you’re writing a blog based on a specific product or service, you could pull a list of several reviews that you think give valuable information on the product or service.

#7. Display reviews on the shelf

Product reviews are powerful things, but you don’t have to limit using them to online marketing and promotion! If a particular product in your brick and mortar store has a stand-out, five-star review online, you can utilize it in your in-store marketing efforts to great effect.

Displaying outstanding product reviews on shelf displays is a superb way to bring attention to products. Plus, it lets your reviewer explain the benefits of purchasing the product, which not only gives you a break but also makes for more credible and convincing claims. Having a review on display will also help to establish more trust in the product and could lead to an increase in sales!

Make the most of your online reputation

Building and managing your online reputation can be challenging, but when you have the right tools in front of you — as well as the knowledge of how best to use those tools — there’s nothing stopping you from building the kind of online reputation for your business that you want. Marketing 360®’s reputation management software is here to help. Learn more and see plans and pricing.

Originally published on 10/21/19

The Dos and Don’ts of Generating Reviews

There’s a right way and a wrong way to get reviews

Businesses need reviews in this day and age, and that’s true regardless of the industry they are in, how long they’ve been around or the level of service they provide. Unfortunately, though, most people still don’t write reviews on their own, even as up to 90% of consumers religiously read them when making purchasing decisions. However, the vast majority of consumers will write a review when asked.

Buying reviews is shady, can ruin your online reputation and could be potentially illegal, resulting in huge fines and even the risk that your business’s listing might be taken down completely.

When you take a few minutes to read the guidelines on major review sites, like Google and Yelp, you’ll quickly find that asking for reviews is definitely a grey area, and if you’re not careful, you could incur the same kinds of risks as you would by buying reviews. It’s for that reason that every single business owner understands the dos and don’ts of generating reviews.

The dos and don’ts of generating reviews

DO create and claim your business listings

There’s a reason why so many people don’t write reviews on their own, even if they were completely satisfied with their experience — it’s inconvenient! Life is busy for many of us, and the idea of taking time out of our busy schedules to write a thoughtful review can just seem too prohibitive. And when you’re asking the customer to sign up for an account or to create a profile on a review site in addition to writing a review, it makes the process even more time-consuming and inconvenient. That’s one of the reasons why it’s important to create and claim your business listings on multiple review sites.

In addition to making it easier for your customers to leave a review for you on their preferred site, claiming your creating and claiming your business listings will also help you to ensure that your information is accurate and up to date on every site your business is listed on. On most review sites, claiming your listing also gives you the ability to respond to reviewers on different platforms.

Are you ready to start creating and claiming your business listings? Start with Top Rated Local — it’s free!

DON’T pay for fake reviews

Getting reviews naturally can be difficult, and since most business owners understand how important those reviews can be, many of them have resorted to simply buying reviews. Buying reviews is certainly easier than trying to earn them naturally, but it’s a big no-no, and it can do a lot more damage to your business’s online reputation and overall well-being than you might think.

The risks that you take when buying reviews include losing the trust of your customers, getting fined by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), getting your site taken out of the SERP (search engine results pages) altogether and missing out on valuable feedback that you could use to make your business better.

If you’d like to learn more about how buying reviews can be damaging for your business, check out our previous blog — Why Buying Reviews is a Bad Idea.

DO ensure that your customers know how important reviews are for your business

As we mentioned, asking for reviews is a grey area, and on some review sites, like Yelp, it’s more than a little frowned upon. However, asking for reviews is also the number one most effective way to actually get them, so where does that leave us?

There are ways to ask for reviews without actually asking for them. You don’t have to come right out and say, “Please write a five-star review for us on Google,” to get the point across that you’d like a review. A better way to do so is by making sure that your customers know how much you value their feedback and how important reviews are for your business’s future success.

DON’T bribe your customers in exchange for reviews

Incentivizing reviews is another easy way for businesses to generate more reviews, but much like outright asking for reviews, there’s a fine line between incentivizing reviews and bribing your customers to write reviews, which is certainly against the guidelines of many review sites. In fact, some review sites treat incentivizing reviews the same way they treat outright buying fake reviews, and you’ll risk the same kinds of penalties.

You should never offer your customers discounts, special offers or free products in exchange for five-star reviews. However, a less-shady way to accomplish the same goal is to enter clients who give you feedback — good or bad — into a drawing.

DO ask that your customers convert their feedback into reviews

Your customers give you feedback all of the time and in many different forms. Sometimes, they’ll tell you in person about their experience. Sometimes, your customers will email you about their experience. Sometimes, your customers will tell you about their experience over the phone. It’s important to note that, while this kind of offline feedback is a valuable tool for helping you make your business better, it doesn’t do much for your business’s online reputation.

When you get feedback offline, it doesn’t hurt for you to ask your customer to turn it into an online review, particularly if you’re not trying to pressure the customer into giving you a specific star rating or writing specific things about your business. Here’s an example of how to ask your customer to convert their feedback into an online review:

“Thank you so much for the valuable feedback! We value it so much and would really appreciate it if you could leave it for us online so that you could help other customers make the right decisions for their needs.”

DON’T write your own reviews

Like paying someone else to write reviews or bribing your customers to write them, writing your own reviews can seem like an innocent way to quickly generate reviews, but it’s definitely a black-hat tactic that is against the guidelines of every major review site. Writing your own reviews make your business vulnerable to the potential penalties — which, to recap, includes fees, the possibility that your listing could be taken down and the loss of trust with your audience.

Fake reviews are easier to spot than you might think, and if you aren’t planning to go to the trouble of creating a fake profile on Yelp or Google, it’ll be all too easy for your clients to determine that you — the business owner, CEO, manager, etc. — are writing those reviews, which will cause them to lose trust in your brand and possibly even ditch you for your competition.

DO make great customer service your number one priority

Encouraging your customers to write reviews is great, but as you can see, the line between what’s acceptable and what’s not can be blurred easily, particularly since review sites often have differing guidelines. However, there’s one surefire way to generate more reviews that every review site finds acceptable and that you never have to worry about breaking guidelines or rules — and that’s to make providing next-level customer service your number one priority.

Every time you interact with a customer, think about how they are seeing your business and how they might represent the interaction online. And while it’s true that most people won’t automatically write reviews on their own unless they are unhappy with their experience, that doesn’t mean that great service never encourages people to write reviews. In fact, here at Top Rated Local, we see reviews all of the time that start with something along the lines of:

“I never write reviews, but I got such great service that I knew that had to…”

DON’T make getting reviews a competition for your team

Your employees are the face of your company. As the owner, CEO or manager of your business, you’re often too busy with everything else to have face-to-face interactions with every single customer, but your team, on the other hand, does have those personal interactions with your clients. And because of that fact, it’s absolutely essential that your customers know why getting reviews is important.

This doesn’t mean that you should try to get more reviews by creating a competition among your team to get reviews. If a bonus or another reward is on the line, it might encourage your team to use black-hat tactics in order to generate more reviews, and they could end up getting your business in trouble.


Start generating reviews the right way with Top Rated Local today!

Navigating the ins and outs of the different guidelines on review sites can be tricky, and what’s acceptable on one review site may not be acceptable on another. However, there are a lot of dos and don’ts that aren’t negotiable, and we hope that this article has helped to clear them up just a little bit.

Generating reviews is an essential part of online reputation management, but it’s only one step in the process. With Marketing 360®’s reputation management software, you’ll have everything you need to be able to manage your business’ online reputation like a pro, including real-time notifications when you get reviews, the ability to reply to your reviews, a more frequently updated Rating Score™ that will give you a snapshot of your overall online reputation, a Top Rated Local badge of your own so that you can display reviews on your website and the ability to verify your reviews and eliminate fake reviews. And unlike many other review sites, businesses don’t “pay to play” on Top Rated Local.

With Marketing 360 Reputation, you can take your business’s online reputation into your own hands effectively and professionally. See our plans and pricing to get started.

Originally published 10/11/19

5 Tips for Getting More Positive Customer Reviews

The most effective way to manage your online reputation is to get more positive reviews

Online reviews frustrate a lot of business owners because there is a lack of balance. The problem is that most people simply don’t review businesses they deal with every day — that is until something goes wrong.

You might be a landscaper, chiropractor, or auto dealership that has a great real-world reputation, yet your online review profile is lopsided with negative comments. The happy middle of satisfied clients is under-represented.

The only way around this problem is to be proactive and ask happy customers to leave reviews. And we mean more than just casually mentioning it. You need a plan that everyone in your business understands.

Here are five tips on creating and implementing a plan that will help bring balance back to your online reviews so they reflect the quality of service you actually offer.

Tip #1: Deliver exceptional service

Before we even talk about getting more reviews, we have to mention what is being reviewed.

None of the tips listed here will work unless you deliver exceptional service your customers genuinely appreciate. It’s all but impossible to fake a positive review profile for a business with major customer service or product quality issues.

Today’s customer-centered business world is more transparent than ever. Every time you cut corners on quality, you jeopardize your online reputation. Every time you delight beyond expectations, you boost it.

When everything is said and done, the quality of your offering plays the biggest role in your reputation. Asking for a positive review is far easier when the customer feels you deserve one.

Tip #2: Ask customers for reviews

Sometimes, the most obvious solutions are the most overlooked. To get more positive online reviews, the place to start is directly asking for them.

First and foremost, this means asking in person. For example, say you run a local bike shop. One of your sales associates spends time with a customer, fitting them for the perfect bike. The customer is ecstatic to have an excellent new bike and even forms a kind of bond with the salesperson.

There is no better opportunity to ask for a review than at the end of this sale. The salesperson can even frame the request, noting how the review will help other customers find the right bike.

Train staff that works directly with customers to always ask for a review. Make it an organizational initiative. This is the best opportunity you’ll have to get an honest review motivated by nothing other than the merits of your work.

Important idea: Asking for reviews by email

If you don’t have much (or any) face time with customers, you’ll need to ask for reviews by email.

Be aware that you have to create a custom list of emails comprised only of happy customers. You can’t automate this off a list that might include customers that are upset.

The best practice is to have the email sent from an individual at your company, preferably a personal email from the person the client worked with. The content of the email can be a personal request.

You can then create links directly to your review pages, like this one for Google. Lead with a request to get a review on the platform you most want to target, but have links to other platforms as well (many people have one preferred platform for leaving reviews).

This email is a type of conversion. Test your text and design to see what elicits the most responses.

Important idea: Ask for reviews on Facebook

A fFcebook post to followers is a quick way to ask for reviews.  Keep in simple and personal, with a link to the review platform so people can easily write the review.

Tip #3: Incentivizing reviews

One of the tactics everyone considers is offering rewards (discounts, freebies, or payment) for reviews. It’s certainly one way to incentivize people to act.

But you have to be careful when using rewards to incentivize reviews. Because ideally, you want to earn reviews without having to toss in incentives.

And not surprisingly, it’s against the policy of most review platforms to reward reviews. This leads to fake reviews and skewed business profiles that undermine the legitimacy of the content for users. Platforms like Yelp make an active effort to filter any reviews the business incentivized.

However, as we said, the problem here is that the people most motivated to write reviews of their own accord are those with a complaint. You just want to give your happy clients a little push in the right direction.

Start with steps one and two. If possible, it’s better not to resort to offering rewards for reviews because it’s simply not as genuine. Some customers may see it as tacky, hurting your reputation rather than helping it.

But if you’re struggling to get positive comments, you can run an incentive campaign. When asking for a review, note that you have a special offer for confirmed positive comments. In some cases, you can get the customer to write you a review on the spot and give them the reward right then.

Incentivizing is best used as a way to boost your review profile when you’re struggling to get enough positive reviews. Beyond that, let your work and straightforward requests serve as your main reputation management strategy.

Tip #4: Respond to reviews

You’ll encourage more reviews with a profile that shows you’re responsive — to both positive and negative comments.

Think of your review profile as another way to interact with clients. Instead of these being one-sided comments, they can become dialogues where you gain valuable feedback about your services.

You can do a great deal to curb the effect of negative reviews by responding like a professional. Be transparent about errors, and explain how you will remedy them so they don’t become chronic mistakes.

Also, thank people for positive comments and repeat — specifically — the benefit you delivered. This becomes a type of marketing content that can convey your value proposition. For example:

This marketing service has a dashboard that tracks the marketing activities and the results so you can actually hold the company accountable by results that are automatically tracked. Marketing efforts are tackled from every angle. Also my account manager Travis Mino is a great guy and gets things done for me when asked. We have achieved our traffic, conversion and sales goals for the last several months. I recommend this marketing services company to any company that is serious about improving its e-commerce business. – Wayne S.  

Response:

Wayne, we’re ecstatic Marketing 360® is improving your e-commerce business. Tracking results so business owners understand their marketing is the primary goal of our marketing software. We love to hear clients are not only achieving goals, but that they know they’re achieving them. That’s not always easy with marketing. We look forward to helping you grow for years to come!  – Travis M.

If you get a negative review, you can earn redemption by acknowledging the opinion of the reviewer and showing you value their input.

Important idea: Ignore rants

On occasion, you’ll get a negative review that’s simply an unfair rant. Some people take advantage of the removed anonymity of online reviews as an outlet for other issues.

Simply ignore these rants and move on. They’re not worth responding to, and other people will recognize them for what they are.

If you think a review is fake and/or posted by a competitor, you can flag it for removal.  But don’t obsess over these.  You’ll never please everyone, and some people choose never to be pleased. Life’s too short to get into it with these personalities.

In fact, some negative reviews are worth a laugh.  There is an entire YouTube channel dedicated to professional actors adding drama to negative (and absurd) Yelp reviews:

Tip #5: Monitor your brand

Tracking all the customer-created content and getting a sense of your overall reputation online is becoming increasingly challenging. In some cases, there are dozens of review platforms a business needs to monitor, including social media, like Facebook.

Getting happy customers to review you online then tracking that content on a daily basis is important — but time-consuming.

Get one person at your business to be responsible for your reputation management efforts, or have your marketing company do it for you.

The one thing you can’t do is ignore online reviews. It’s said today that a brand is no longer what it says about itself, but what its customers tell each other about it. Online consumers are instinctively drawn to what people who’ve used a product or service have to say about it. They believe they’ll get a more objective view than what the business says about itself.

And they are — for the most part — correct. A positive, unsolicited review is the best measure of your fine work. But don’t just wait for your customers to do the right thing. Ask them for help, not just to help you but to help the next happy customer that will choose you because of that positive review.

This post originally appeared on Marketing 360®

Originally published 5/15/18

What Makes People Write Reviews

Understanding why people write reviews is the first step towards getting more reviews for your business.

People write reviews for all kinds of reasons

Every business needs reviews, and it’s not acceptable just to have one or two — you need as many as you can get. But, it’s also not enough to have hundreds of reviews if none of them are recent.

A five-star review holds a lot of weight, but that weight becomes diminished the older the review is. Many consumers don’t even look at the reviews that are more than a few months old, because they no longer see those reviews as relevant.

Your business’s online reputation can make or break your success both online and offline, and it depends on your ability to get multiple positive reviews on a regular basis.

In order to do that, you need to have a good understanding of why people leave reviews in the first place. When you understand people’s motivations for writing reviews, you can fine-tune your strategy for getting lots of reviews

Seven reasons people write reviews

#1. To help other consumers

A lot of people write reviews because they genuinely want to share their experiences with other consumers when making purchasing decisions.

Whether that experience is positive or negative, these reviewers want to be able to guide other people to make, what they see as, the right decisions.

You can generally spot these types of reviewers by looking for more detailed, story-driven reviews.

If someone really and truly is motivated by helping other people make better buying decisions, they’ll probably give the entire 411 about their experience — sometimes right down to the name of the person who helped them and the time of day they were helped.

#2. To have their opinions heard

These days, it’s not always easy to get noticed or feel heard. There are so many people out there with opinions, thoughts and feelings, and if social media is any indication, people want to express themselves!

It can be difficult to break through the noise under normal circumstances, and one of the best ways to ensure that people are actually heard is to speak directly to a business via reviews.

When someone writes a review, they’re not another anonymous person complaining to customer service, and they don’t have to rely on a tech or customer service rep to relay their message to management.

Reviews allow people to communicate directly to the business in a way that ensures that they will be listened to and can’t be ignored.

#3. To be a part of the group

People find camaraderie in all kinds of places. You see it in fandoms all over the internet.

If you’ve ever stepped foot in a midnight showing of a movie or at your local comic con, then you know what we mean.

People love to connect with other like-minded people, but that doesn’t stop with dressing up as their favorite superhero or writing fan fiction.

Reviews are a great way to make a connection with other people who share your likes and dislikes.

You see this most often in reviews for movies, television shows and books, but some businesses invoke the same kind of response in their customers, particularly businesses that have a strong brand or offer unique products or services.

#4. To vent about a bad experience

One of the most common reasons anyone writes a review is in response to what they perceive as a bad situation.

Maybe they had to wait longer than they expected. Maybe the person who helped them was late or didn’t provide them with the level of service that fit their expectations. Or, maybe they simply don’t accept that mistakes happen.

Whatever the situation, people are more likely to spread the word after a bad experience than a good one.

Perception is reality, and even if you’ve done everything in your power to provide the best possible customer service and meet all of their needs, sometimes, you just don’t live up to expectations.

Unfortunately, people are more likely to write a review when they’re upset than when they’re happy,

#5. To give feedback about products or services

Some people genuinely want to help businesses get better!

There’s no such thing as a perfect product or service, but businesses often don’t see the flaws in what they’re offering because they only see one side of the equation.

You can’t possibly know about every potential flaw or downside of your product or service unless you are the ones using it on a regular basis. That’s why insight from your customers is very valuable!

These kinds of reviews are incredible because they give you the ability to make changes to your products or services that can help you attract more future customers, make your current customers happier and keep them coming back for more.

#6. To say thank you for a job well done

Going above and beyond in order to provide the best possible service for your customers is a surefire way to get great reviews for your business.

Let’s face it, these days, customer service can be lackluster, and a lot of people are simply accustomed to service that’s less-than-ideal.

One of the best ways to actually make an impact on your customers is to provide the kind of service they can’t ignore and that they’ll want to shout about from the rooftops.

These kinds of reviews are some of the best any business can hope for.

When prospective customers read them, they’ll be able to tell exactly how hard you work to please your customers, and about how much your customers appreciate that hard work.

#7. Because they were asked to!

There are many reasons why people write reviews on their own, as we’ve discussed in the points so far, but unfortunately, the vast majority of people don’t write reviews by themselves, at least not at this point in time.

And, as I mentioned, people are more inclined to write a review without being prompted after a negative experience than a positive one.

More and more people are writing reviews on their own, but until the day comes when it becomes second nature to consumers, your best course of action is simply to ask!

Very few people will write a review unprompted, but when asked, 70% of consumers will write a review!

Asking for reviews is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you actually get them, and no, you don’t have to bribe people with discounts or gift cards.

All you have to do is let them know how much a review will mean to you and request that they write one for you.


Every business needs reviews!

Understanding what motivates people to leave reviews will help you gain more for your business, which will help you build the kind of online reputation you want.

However, gaining more reviews is just the first step in the process of building and maintaining a solid online reputation for your business. Learn how to build and manage your reputation like a pro with the Marketing 360® Reputation app. See our plans and pricing.

Originally published 9/21/19

Ethics and Reputation Management

An ethical approach to reputation management

Word of mouth has always been one of the main ways small businesses have gotten their name out and grown. While the value of word of mouth is undeniable, online reputation is playing a bigger and more prominent role than ever in how a business is seen by its potential customers.

One of the key functions of your online reputation is offering a presentation of your company, and ideally, giving customers a reason to trust you. Trust plays a huge role in whether or not a potential customer will choose you over any other business. In this day and age, trust is one of the most important things your business can have.

In a 2013 study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, customers identified authenticity as one of the top qualities that would attract them to a brand, and according to BrightLocal, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews from other customers just as much as they would recommendations from peers. In other words, a bad reputation, or no reputation, can kill your business.

It is important to navigate the world of online reputation management in a way that is viewed as ethical. Ethics is defined as the moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity. With that in mind, there are some simple ways to stay on top of your online reputation while acting in a way that is also ethical.

Here are five simple do’s and don’ts when it comes to managing your online reputation ethically.

Don’t

Assume your reputation will speak for itself

It’s entirely possible that you’re the best at what you do, you have incredible employees and your customers have absolutely loved and benefited from your service.

While all of that can be true, if you are not actively monitoring and promoting your online reputation, you will stay practically invisible to a large potential audience. When a potential client first discovers your business, they will be quick to make judgments and buying decisions based on what they find online.

At the end of the day, your reputation isn’t going to speak for itself. If you don’t showcase a strong online presence, that potential client is just going to turn the other way. One easy and ethical way to start promoting your business is by asking the people that have loved your service to leave you some feedback online.

Create fake reviews

While this one seems like it should be a no-brainer, fake reviews are actually, sadly, pretty common and definitely unethical.

This one goes two ways — don’t create fake negative reviews for a competitor, and don’t create fake positive reviews for yourself. This shady tactic is not only unethical, but it’s also not legal.

According to The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), online endorsements cannot be misleading, cannot publish fake or unfounded claims, and must disclose any relationship or connection between the reviewer and the company. The cost of violating these guidelines could be steep since the FTC has the legal authority to charge significant fines or even shut down a business.

In one case in 2017, the FTC fined a car dealer in California $3.6 million for encouraging its employees to pose as customers and post fake positive reviews about the company.

Create negative content about your competitors

In a continuation of the last point, keep in mind that creating fake reviews is certainly unethical, and sometimes illegal. It is absolutely not worth risking your business to trash talk the competition.

When it comes to defamation and libel, the traditional rules apply to online content, which means that leaving fake negative comments for a competing business is likely going to get you into way more trouble than it’s worth.

If you want to do something that is actually beneficial to your business, take a look through your competitors’ actual negative reviews and see if the ways they are failing are things that your company can excel in. For example, if their customers have commented about their cold and unwelcoming waiting room, you can really stand out by offering a comfortable and fun space for your clients to hang out in!

By monitoring actual feedback instead of inventing fake feedback, you might end up learning something valuable about what your potential customers are looking for.

Spam

Spamming, or ‘spamdexing’ the internet, with lackluster or false content can have an effect on search results and your ranking in them, and is definitely an unethical practice.

There are many ways to create content spam or link spam, many of which are deceptive. Algorithms are used by the major search engines in order to figure out where to rank a website by figuring out what keywords and category the website is relevant to.

Some businesses operate under the idea that any content is good content and will create spam content in the form of articles or blogs that, to a reader, will look like garbage, but to an algorithm, might be full of keywords that might boost the website’s standing.

Try to erase the past

There is a false notion out there that managing your online reputation means getting rid of the mistakes or criticisms your business has run into, and instead, showing the public a flawless and perfected version of your business.

While you do want to highlight the good, it’s unethical to simply pretend the bad doesn’t exist, or to try and hide it from the world. Besides, the ‘delete’ button isn’t going to wipe you or your mistakes from people’s memories.

Do:

Practice transparency

Trust is everything for small business, and one simple way to build trust is to offer transparency to your audience. By offering transparency in your business, you are showing your clients that your business is open, honest and worth trusting.

One study found that 94 percent of consumers are likely to be loyal to a brand that offers transparency. If you are willing to be upfront about your practices, you are that much more likely to gain bought-in, loyal customers. If you can’t offer it, potential customers can all too easily continue their search until they find a company they are happy to place their trust in.

Establish your business’s core values

This is one simple way to show your audience the kinds of things that are important to you as a company. It can also help to make sure your employees are aware of the kind of business you are, and how to act according to the values you establish.

When your employees and your potential clients understand what you stand for, it helps them to decide if you are worth investing time and money in.

Learn from your mistakes, and from the mistakes of others

Accepting feedback and doing something about it is a responsible and professional way to handle your business. Customers will take notice that you care about their experience and are not too proud to learn and grow.

In some cases, making a change after receiving negative feedback will make you and your business look even better than if nothing had been wrong in the first place!

People respect someone who can learn and change, and customers certainly want to feel heard, appreciated and valued. You can also learn from the mistakes of your competitors by seeing where they are falling behind in reviews and focusing on being great in those areas.

Publish valuable content

Content marketing is one of the best ways to add value to your business. By creating content, you are able to share information with your clients and become known as an expert in your field.

When you share quality content, you make it clear that you are knowledgeable, useful and worth following. The things you share are able to help you connect with your audience, establishing a relationship based on trust and familiarity. If you want to be seen and remain relevant, you need to participate in content marketing.

Stay active

Keep in mind that consistency is key when it comes to marketing your business and keeping up with your reputation. Maintain a schedule when it comes to posting content, checking your reviews and responding to your reviews.

Again, this links to trustworthiness. Show your audience that their time matters by showing them consistency and excellence in all you do.


Start building a strong reputation the ethical way by becoming a Top Rated Local® business today. And, learn how Marketing 360® can help you manage your online reputation like a pro.

Originally published 11/18/19

Tips To Fix A Broken Reputation

Why your online reputation matters

It is the hope of any business owner that the business they have invested so much time, energy and funding into will be beloved by all and will be known for its reliability, excellent service and quality products or services.

While it’s great to wish a naturally stellar reputation, it’s entirely likely that some kind of trouble will end up finding you, and when that happens, you’ll want to be prepared to recover your reputation and maintain your status as a business people trust.

Warren Buffett once said,

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

We can’t stress enough how important your online reputation is. More and more, people are turning to the internet to do their research before deciding to give their business to companies. When it comes time for them to look into your business, you want to show them that you have the kind of reputation they can trust.

In today’s digital world, blunders and mishaps don’t often stay quiet for long, and once negativity starts showing up publicly, it often starts to expand and multiply. Whether your reputation has taken a small jab or has been knocked back by a solid blow, you’re going to need to do some reputation repair. When the time comes to manage and fix your online reputation, will you know where to begin?

Know that you are not alone. No business is immune to negative reviews or an eventual screw-up. What’s important is that you care and want to make things right. When the idea of repairing your reputation feels overwhelming, know that you have already made a big step in the right direction by simply making the decision to start!

Take a deep breath, remind yourself that you are not the first or last business owner this will happen to.

5 things you can do to fix a broken reputation

#1. Own your past 

There are few things as powerful as a business willing to admit to its faults and make a sincere apology to those affected by the blunder. When you come off as defensive, defiant or irritated, people rarely see you as in control and trustworthy. They see a business that is more concerned about its pride than its customers.

If the hit to your reputation came in the form of a scathing online review, take a minute to think about both what the customer said and what they felt. Chances are, this customer left your business feeling unheard or dissatisfied for a legitimate reason.

Other customers and potential future customers will be able to read, not only this review, but also the way you respond to it. This is where a little humility and sincerity will give you the chance to look good to your audience.

By acknowledging that this customer’s concerns are heard and worth responding to, you show your audience that you care and that you are paying attention. You don’t even necessarily need to confess to any specific grievances.

By saying something along the lines of, “I apologize that you did not get to experience the incredible customer service we hope to provide to each and every one of our patrons. I want to hear more about this visit, get the opportunity to make this right, and show you the kind of service we strive to provide. Please contact me at ___,” you can show this customer, and all potential customers, that you care and are dedicated to providing outstanding service.

By apologizing and showcasing that you have a plan of action to make things right, you come off as strong, reliable and in control of this situation. 

If there is a specific incident that has come up that is harming your reputation, you want to stay ahead of the curve by owning up to what has happened. Be honest from the start, apologize and reiterate what is important to you or what you will do to make things right.

One example would be, “I want to apologize for ___. This is not the way we hope to conduct our business, and we are sorry for anyone who was affected by these actions. We want to recommit ourselves to providing trustworthy service to our customers, who we value so much. Thank you for sticking with us through this, and know that going forward, we will always do what we can to earn your support and be the kind of company you are proud to do business with.”

Looking at a statement like this, your customers will see integrity, compassion and a commitment to them, instead of being left in the dark wondering if you’ll ever mention the incident in question. Being willing to address the concern, taking ownership of your part in it and recommitting yourself to the values your business stands for gives customers a reason to trust you, which is more important now than ever.  

#2. Strengthen your reputation by creating and sharing engaging content

Content marketing is one very powerful way to promote your business because it connects you with your clients, builds up your relationship and boosts your reputation by establishing you as an authority in your field.

Content marketing can be done through a blog, through videos on YouTube or Facebook, by posting to Instagram, by creating infographics and a whole host of other ways. That’s one of the beautiful things about content marketing; there are so many ways to do it that it really can be customized to your business and its strengths. 

Take something as simple as a blog. Many small businesses have found some level of success by using a blog to answer common questions their customers have.  

If you own a house cleaning company, for example, you may think that there’s no way people would be interested in reading about your business, or that the internet is already full of information about your industry.

But chances are, your customers do come to you for advice, or would benefit from seeing some engaging content about how to maintain their glass top stove between deep cleans.

At the very least, creating and sharing information related to your field will put you a step ahead of your local competitors, which is exactly where you want to be! Regular blogging can help you to establish and build relationships with your customers as well as provide them with helpful content.

Blogging is an easy way to establish yourself as an expert in your field. If you use your blog to address common questions your customers have, you provide them with a valuable tool that also showcases the fact that you are listening to their questions and concerns, and that you have a vested interest in helping them.

The kind of trust you can build by blogging about real questions and concerns, in and of itself, is incredibly valuable. People want to give their business to someone they trust and like, and a blog can not only help with this, but it can also help with keeping your customers engaged and interested in your business, even in times when a bad review or PR nightmare has you feeling down. Basically, a blog can help you establish enough of a baseline rapport with your audience to make it harder for them to turn on you in times of trouble. 

Whether it’s blog posts, Facebook videos or well-timed memes, the content marketing you do will not only help get your audience familiar with you and your business, but it will also count as fresh content, meaning the search engine bots will be more likely to look on your site favorably when it comes time to rank your business. 

#3. Smother the bad

You can’t just ignore or erase your bad press or negative reviews, and even if you could, that’s not a business tactic we recommend. Now, this does not extend to fake reviews, which you will want to discredit or get deleted.

We’re talking about the everyday hits a business can be expected to take. While you want to address negative incidents and reviews, you also want to show people that you have more going for you in the form of authentic, positive feedback.

Take a look at where your reputation stands at present. What do your reviews look like? Do you even have any reviews? Are the ones you do have pretty good, but a year old? 

Now might be a good time to reach out to your customers to tell them how much you would value their feedback and let them know how much it would help your business out.

There’s a right way and wrong way to go about this, so make sure that when you are making a push for positive reviews, you are doing so in a way that is authentic and is not incentivizing people to say nice things about you.

When people are checking out at your store, you can say something as simple as, “Would you please leave us some feedback on our Facebook profile? It would really mean a lot to us.”

You’re not begging, or asking for five stars, you are simply telling your customers that their experience with your business is important to you. 

Ideally, more and more people will start to share their feedback in the form of online reviews, giving you some much-needed content for people to base their opinions of your business on. You can also use positive feedback right on the front page of your website.

If you have had any press about your business, make sure it is featured somewhere on your website. Here at Top Rated Local, every business ranked as one of the top five in its category is recognized with a Top Rated Local awards.

By accepting opportunities like this, those businesses now have a valuable asset in the form of positive press, which they can display in their shops, post about on their social media and link to on their websites.

If your business has had any positive press, like an article about your grand opening or a spotlight for the work you’ve done giving back to the community, be sure to display it where people can easily find it! 

#4. Claim your listings and set up social media profiles

You may not be aware, but your business is already listed on review sites all across the internet, including Google, Yelp and Top Rated Local. If you are ready to start managing your online reputation but have no idea where to start, we recommend getting the ball rolling by first claiming all of your business listings.

Claiming your business online is free, easy and there’s no better way to keep ahead of what people are saying about you online. Claiming your business can help to build trust in the eyes of your potential consumers by legitimizing your business, showing your customers that your business is real and giving you the power to make sure that basic information. like your phone number, address and business name, is updated and correct.

This can be a crucial first step in forming trust with your potential customers. If they google your business and call the phone number that is listed, but that number is disconnected or incorrect, they are likely going to think that your business is either closed or unreliable. Neither option is good for business.

Taking your business’s listing off of these sites is not an option, but you do have the option to take control of those listings and give your website an additional SEO boost. Stop a reputation crisis before it begins by keeping up to date and aware of your online presence.

#5. Make reputation management a part of your business plan

With your claimed business listings, an outpouring of creative and engaging content and a commitment to respond to your reviews in a timely and professional manner, it will soon become apparent that you must dedicate time to managing your online reputation and making that a vital part of the way your business operates.

For some, this means carving out a set time of the day to dedicate towards reputation management. For others, it means hiring a full-time content creator, social media manager or PR person. For even more companies, the time investment it would cost them, or the financial investment it would cost to hire a new employee, has them turning to reputation management companies.

There are many reputation management companies out there, so be sure to do your research, ask around and find one that fits your business’s needs. In any case, don’t leave managing your reputation off your radar until it’s in crisis mode. Recognize the importance of understanding and managing your reputation, and come up with a well-thought-out plan of action for the best way your company can stay on top.


We hope you have been inspired to take charge of your online reputation today. One of the easiest ways to get involved is to claim your profile on Top Rated Local. Check it out, and let us help take the stress out of managing your business’s online presence!

Originally published 12/20/19

The Importance Of Reputation Management For Plumbers

Online reputation is vital to a plumber’s success

The world of online reputation management may seem a bit too much for your local, family-owned plumbing company, but it definitely should not be overlooked or brushed off as being only helpful for younger generations.

Let us fill you in on why your online reputation matters and what you can accomplish by taking control of it! By understanding and managing your online reputation, you can gain valuable insight into the minds of your customers, see where your reputation is shining or lacking, and communicate with your current and potential future clients!

What your reviews tell people

Whether for last-minute emergency services or a long-awaited planned project, when it comes time for the average consumer to choose a plumber, most people are going to turn to the internet before deciding who to hire.

As a local business, your online reputation can make or break you. Today, your online reviews hold as much weight as word of mouth has in the past.

In fact, 88-percent of consumers trust online reviews just as much as they would trust a personal recommendation. While positive reviews can help get your name out and grow your business, negative reviews can result in a bad reputation, which will undoubtedly harm your business.

Your loyal fans, your current customers and an untold number of future potential customers are using online reviews every day to make their purchasing decisions.

Think about it. From the most mundane household products, like sponges and hand soap, all the way up to important services, like optometrists and family doctors, people almost never choose a product or service without doing some research first.

That means that it is more important than ever to stay on top of and manage your online reputation. Think of your reviews as the new word of mouth or referral.

Imagine a potential customer searches for local plumbers and comes across your page and a competitor’s page. Your page has no reviews and theirs has a few positive reviews scattered across Facebook and Google. That customer is most likely going to go with the business that people have recommended through their reviews!

Many times, people are looking for a plumber with some level of urgency, and the average person doesn’t have much, if any, plumbing knowledge. They really rely on those reviews to help them know which business to trust!

Plumbing is a competitive industry, and you can be the best plumber in the city, but if potential customers aren’t told as much by someone other than yourself, they have no reason to believe you.

Check out your competition

Not only can your online reputation give you a leg-up in the industry, but it can also give you some good insight into what customers care about.

Browse through the reviews of some of your competitors. What are the top compliments and criticisms being made about other businesses in your field?

Maybe you hadn’t thought to really focus on communication, but you’ve noticed that that’s one of the things people complain about the most. You can help your business to stand out even more by going out of your way to be the best when it comes to communication!

You commit to responding to all voicemails by the end of the day, you start to send out follow-up emails, and maybe you even set up your employees with a texting service so they can let the customer know when they are on their way. Soon enough, excellent communication skills become something you are known for!

By seeing where others are struggling, you can get a good idea about what is going on in the minds of the consumers, as well as what they value and what tends to bother them the most.

You can also see where you might be outshining your competitors! By reading through the reviews, you might notice that you’re the only local company that keeps getting compliments about your friendly technicians.

You can lean into that when it comes to your branding. Start by saying that customer service is something you’re known for, because at this point, it is, and you have the reviews to back that up!

Make yourself more visible

It is crucial for you to show up as one of the top results when someone searches for businesses in your industry. In fact, it’s been shown that 75-percent of people never scroll past the first page of search engine results!

If you don’t show up on that first page, it’s almost as bad as not showing up at all. If you’re trying to buy your way to the top with keywords and paid ads, get ready to shell out the big bucks.

An easier, and significantly cheaper, way to boost your visibility is through reviews.

Your SEO (search engine optimization) is boosted when you provide original, fresh content, and new customer reviews are a form of content that not only helps by giving you precious feedback, but also helps to get your brand noticed by those algorithms that can push you to the top!

Communicate with your customers

Online or off, there’s no doubt that communication is valued in the service industry.

Online reviews give you a unique platform where you can communicate with your consumer base quickly and publically.

If a negative review comes in, you can quickly address the issue, showing potential customers that you are not only communicative but that you also value customer feedback. In some cases, you can even turn around a bad review by addressing the customer’s concerns and showing them that you care about their experience.


Make managing your reputation easy with Top Rated Local

Plumbers who have been in business for a while will and have a long list of clients probably also have reviews across many different platforms, like Yelp, Home Advisor, Angie’s List, Facebook, and Google — Top Rated Local can help you keep track of where your reputation is by bringing them all to one place!

It has never been easier to take control of your online reputation, and with some help from Top Rated Local, you can quickly get the shining reputation you’ve dreamed of.

Originally published 10/21/19