Most small businesses today don’t have a well-defined marketing strategy. Because they’re generally dealing with the reality of geographic, financial, or staffing constraints, these businesses are content to use old-fashioned approaches to marketing: word-of-mouth recommendations, print advertisements, and mailers.
What many of these businesses fail to realize is how marketing strategies have transformed in the 21st century. While consumers still talk to their families and friends about the businesses they frequent, and while print ads and mailings are still somewhat viable, the advent of the internet has changed marketing options in significant ways.
One of the most important developments in small business marketing is the prevalence of online reviews. If small businesses want to modernize their marketing strategy, collecting and encouraging good online reviews should be a foundational part of their process.
These reviews are not simply peripheral or decorative additions to a 21st-century marketing strategy; they’re an integral part of helping small businesses grow their customer base and increase revenue.
Below are seven reasons why good reviews are an integral part of a small business marketing strategy. After exploring these reasons in-depth, we will briefly look at how Weave’s unique combination of hardware and software solutions support small businesses in their quest to gather and promote good online reviews.
1.The Popularity of Online Reviews
Formerly, consumers relied on the opinions of family and friends when making decisions about which restaurant to frequent, which mechanic to choose, and which doctor to visit. Peer recommendations still matter, but search engines like Google and review sites like Yelp have permanently changed this decision-making process. It’s much easier to publish and share our opinions when we can conveniently post them online instead of writing a letter to the editor of the local paper.
Our studies show that 92% of customers now look at online reviews. This statistic means the vast majority of people, from senior citizens to teenagers, depend on reviews when browsing local businesses.
If such a large percentage of people are perusing online reviews, small businesses need a marketing strategy that takes advantage of the sheer quantity of eyes checking out these reviews. Small businesses should be ensuring not only that their customers post about their businesses, but that these posts are generally positive.
2.Customers Trust Online Reviews
Maybe you’ve already grown to expect people to rely on internet reviews. Picking up a smartphone and googling the star review of a business is very commonplace in 2020. What might be surprising to you is how much customers trust these online reviews.
A staggering 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. If folks trust online reviews to this level, why would they even bother talking to their peers when researching a small business? They might as well just scan their favorite review site and make decisions from there.
This confidence that online reviews are accurate portrayals of the service provided by small businesses suggests that marketing strategies should focus on collecting and dispersing good reviews. Publishing positive online reviews spreads the good news about your business in the same way personal recommendations do, but at a much faster rate. "Amazing technology has simplified our patient communication immensely! We are fairly new and can't wait to learn even more Weave features... customer service and tech support is SPOT ON and can't be beat! " - The Eye Station
Weave Helps Streamline Business Communication
"Amazing technology has simplified our patient communication immensely! We are fairly new and can't wait to learn even more Weave features... customer service and tech support is SPOT ON and can't be beat! " - The Eye StationSchedule Demo
3.Strengthening Your Online Presence
By encouraging customers to post online reviews, small businesses improve their overall online presence. Once your marketing strategy recognizes the popularity of online reviews and the degree to which customers generally trust them, your team can focus on bolstering your business’s representation on the internet.
Part of improving online presence is increasing the amount of reviews posted about your business. Having a high number of positive reviews pushes your business up the search result pages on sites like Google and Yelp. There is a direct correlation between the amount of online reviews your business has and the number of new customers it generates.
If your marketing strategy involves adding new clients to your already-existing base, then strengthening your online presence through reviews should be central to your approach.
4.Reviews Are Free Promotion
What do many outdated, 20th century marketing strategies have in common? They cost a lot for very little return. If your business is paying for mailers, print ads, or billboards, you’re probably intimately acquainted with how expensive marketing can be relative to the amount of new business it generates.
A major advantage of online reviews is that they’re virtually free. Once your business is set up and registered on a particular site, reviews can be posted at will. Not only do these reviews increase visibility, they also improve your business’s clout and prestige.
Small businesses that realize how little they get back from old-school marketing strategies are moving away from “traditional” approaches to expanding their clientele. They see that methods like collecting and promoting online reviews are easier and cheaper than conventional strategies.
Recommendations spread way faster online, and at a fraction of the cost.
5. Reviews Inspire Reviews
When consumers hear a positive opinion about a local business, this opinion often becomes contagious. Even if the people hearing the opinion have no experience with the business, they respect their peer’s perspective enough to believe and share their verbal “reviews.”
This snowballing phenomenon is magnified online. There’s a reason we frequently use the term “viral” when describing how thoughts and opinions are dispersed over the internet. If the discourse about a business in a review is positive, it is more likely to generate other enthusiastic reviews.
The marketing strategy of modern businesses makes this sort of evangelism an integral part of their approach. Forward-thinking marketing means creating, harnessing, and promoting the passion of loyal customers. Online reviews are one of the best ways to use customer enthusiasm as a marketing resource.
6.Self-Reflection and Evaluation
Many businesses go about their operations without ever pausing to think how they could improve and expand their operations. Part of the reason they neglect this type of critical analysis is that they aren’t asking for feedback from customers.
Online reviews teach businesses to value and utilize their customers’ opinions. Good reviews show business owners and their staff the things they do well and encourage them to put further emphasis on those strengths. Negative reviews reveal weaknesses that might not be apparent from within the day-to-day operations of your organization.
Marketing strategies aren’t only about perpetual growth; they’re also about seeking out and finding the core values within your business. Online reviews give business owners insight that’s impossible to gather from internal observation alone.
7.Expansion and Growth
Small businesses tend to stick to their guns. They have a strong core of customers that comes back year after year. The owners of small businesses rely on this core group to keep them stable and afloat.
As these clients age and move away, however, it’s essential for small businesses to add new customers. The younger generation of consumers and newcomers to your area are the demographic most likely to seek out online reviews.
If your business is serious about real growth and expansion, then a marketing strategy that integrates online reviews is imperative to your success. Many of the largest and most lucrative corporations in the world currently are tech companies fueled by a massive online process: Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon. These businesses are flourishing because of their commitment to a dominant internet presence.
Even if your ambition isn’t to build a multi-billion-dollar company, it’s vital to understand how much of an impact the internet and online reviews can have on your business model.
Online Reviews and Weave Marketing
Hopefully, you’re beginning to see how central online reviews are to a truly modern marketing strategy.
Online reviews are popular and trustworthy. They strengthen your small business’s online presence and offer free promotion. Online reviews inspire enthusiasm in other customers and potential customers and give you and your team the type of feedback that leads to optimization of your entire process.
At Weave, our development team has created the tools necessary to assist your business in crafting a marketing strategy that integrates online reviews.
Our system allows you to collect and share positive online reviews. It also gives you the ability to monitor review sites for negative posts. It encourages you to interact with unsatisfied customers and eliminate the shortcomings and accidents that may have originally led to this dissatisfaction.
Another unique feature we offer is review requests. After an appointment, your office staff can send a text that asks for online reviews from happy customers. These requests can even be automated, saving your team the hassle of reaching out to customers following every single appointment.
While the text request feature is up and running, we are in the midst of developing email templates that your business can also use to gather positive reviews. Requests immediately following appointments are still the best way to get good reviews, but our goal is to equip you with as many tools as possible to support your marketing strategy.
Contact us today to find out more about how Weave can make good online reviews an integral part of your small business’s marketing strategy.