Why You Need Online Reviews (and How to Get More of Them)
By Jen Philips April
Did you know that 84% of people believe online reviews as much as they trust friends and family?1 Another study says 90% of people read online reviews and they influence buying behavior. Think about it, when you go online to buy something, whether it’s an item of clothing, electronics, or to choose a movie, you probably read the reviews. It’s the same with your customers. In marketing terms it’s called “social proof.” Social proof is exactly what it sounds like; 3rd party endorsements, if you will. And it works.
The boarding facility with 83 positive reviews is going to seem more trustworthy than the facility with only 3 reviews. Besides providing credibility, online reviews can also boost your SEO to help you be found by even more potential customers.
But you’re worried about negative reviews? Or you’re not sure how to get more reviews? This article will help you better understand how your prospects use reviews to make decisions, how they affect your local SEO, and why negative reviews (within reason) can even help you win more customers.
How Dog Boarding Customers Use Online Reviews
By the time your prospect Google’s “dog boarding + city”, they’ve already decided they need dog boarding. Or, they may be trying to decide between dog boarding and an independent pet sitter. Either way, they need pet care.
When your facility pops up in a top spot on Google AND you’ve got plenty of reviews, you’re already seen as a viable choice. Your potential customer clicks through to your website to find out more. It’s important to realize that people will make a near instant decision BEFORE they click—as in, 2–3 seconds. Your online reputation will affect whether they click.
But What About Negative Reviews?
Yes, they sting. If someone writes a negative review about your business, you can’t help but take it personally. After all, you’ve poured your heart and soul into your business, you love animals and you do your best to make sure everyone has a great experience. However, it’s bound to happen. Everyone’s a critic and everyone has the same access to the online review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, Facebook, etc.
So, no matter what you do, things happen. The best way to handle it is to respond to the review in a calm and professional manner (after you let your initial reactions subside of course!) Depending on the situation, it may be worth it to reach out offline as well. And then, solicit more positive reviews.
Contrary to what some business owners think, you don’t want to delete the negative review. Why not? There’s a funny thing that happens when a prospect reads a negative review sandwiched in with the good ones. It makes your business seem more believable.
After all, one or two negative reviews in a sea of positive ones—as long as you respond appropriately—won’t necessarily affect sales. In fact, according to another study2, the more reviews your product receives, the more confidence consumers gain in their purchasing decision—even if you have a few bad reviews sprinkled in.
The reason why is a basic principle of human psychology. Most people believe that those involved in a pet business love animals and want to treat them well. Yet, people also know that mistakes happen. When you respond appropriately, you help that customer feel acknowledged and you show transparency in your business which is important to others.
How to Get More Reviews
When thinking through your online review strategy, you want to make sure you focus on the review sites where your customers are most apt to look. Yelp and Facebook are two major players when it comes to pet businesses. Google My Business and City Search are two more. You want to have plenty of good reviews on these. But it’s important to realize that each platform has different guidelines for handling reviews. For example, Yelp strictly forbids soliciting reviews while the others don’t care.
Some good guidelines to follow for encouraging reviews include:
- Add your review profiles (with links) to your website.
- Create a handout that lists the different review sites where you’re listed.
- Send an “ask for a review” email after people have used your service and include a link to your Facebook/Google listings, for example.
- Ask customers to write you a review when they’re picking up their dog.
- Ask Yelp for a “Find Us on Yelp” sticker and display it on your front door or at the desk.
Now that you know the importance of online reviews, you can start implementing these ideas today. Get consistent and you’ll find your website rising in the rankings and more customers coming in the door.