You probably already do this as habit. You’re interested in a shiny new gadget, so you enter relevant keywords in Google or Bing and start scanning the search engine result page (SERP). Your eyes immediately gravitate towards listings with the bright orange stars –these, of course, are ratings provided by fellow online consumers. There are several listings with these orange stars, so you immediately start comparing the numbers – 4.1 stars with 12 reviews, a 4.7 with two reviews or the 4.8 with more than 100? The choice is obvious and you click the listing with the highest rating and most reviews.
IT’S ALL ABOUT TRUST
Facts support this behavior: 88 percent of consumers rank online reviews on par with personal recommendations, according to the 2016 local consumer review survey by BrightLocal, a SEO marketing and research firm. What makes this stat even more remarkable is the idea consumers trust the opinion of a complete stranger when making a buying decision. And the decision to buy happens quickly – 90 percent of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business, adds BrightLocal.
As a fl oral business owner, the takeaway here is if you are unable to offer and showcase reviews, you may be losing the opportunity of gaining the trust of a majority of online consumers. If you happen to have reviews you’ve compiled over years but don’t have anything recent, you may still need to get to work. BrightLocal confirms consumers prefer recent reviews with 73 percent of consumers believing reviews older than three months are no longer relevant.
REVIEWS HELP SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
Aside from comforting consumer trust issues, reviews have two benefits with regard to SEO. Reviews posted on the store website equate to new content created by actual users of your product – think of it as blogs posted by others. This alone scores enormous rank points with Google since it loves change in websites.
The other benefit is for reviews written outside of the website— on Google, Yelp, or third-party review services—which represent an inbound link back to your website, in addition to serving as a reference on a third-party touting (or not) your business reputation. The secret here is to be sure your business information or citation
is claimed and accurate on Google My Business, Yelp, and other references.
BrightLocal research also supports the idea reviews spur visits: 54 percent of consumers will visit the store website after reading positive reviews. And of course positive reviews are critical, with 74 percent of consumers saying positive reviews will make them trust a business more.
GATHER AND ENGAGE
So when do you want to capture a review from a customer? In the floral space, this is probably the moment the sender places the order – at this moment, they are happiest with their decision to send or purchase fl owers. If the order is placed online, this might be at the moment of purchase through a pop-up on screen or shortly after with an email requesting a review. But you need to ask. BrightLocal confirms 7 out of 10 consumers will leave a review for your business if they are asked. For walk-ins, you defi nitely have the ability to pick and choose the happy customers from those who are not, which should help skew reviews to the positive.
What about negative reviews? Reply to EVERY negative review, even if some are a few years old. Reply along the lines that you regret they were not satisfied with the product or service and you’re willing to do what it takes to win back their business. Provide a real shop contact, name, email, number, and website. Don’t can the response – try to alter each slightly to make it seem like they are unique responses.
What is accomplished here is twofold: you’ve just provided your contact info to all those reading the review, and you’ve assured those scanning for negative responses that you will respond to review feedback…hopefully shifting them back to rely on the more positive responses.