The Importance of Online Reviews for Businesses in 2020May 14, 2020 | Kelcey Sachs, Marketing Planner, Creating Results
This blog post was authored by Kelcey Sachs, a Marketing Planner at Creating Results, a research-driven marketing and sales agency that drives leads and converts sales for 55+ and senior living organizations.
In 2018, we outlined how you can better manage your online reviews. In that post, we provided tips for creating Google My Business (GMB) and Facebook pages to address and tailor your responses to both positive and negative reviews.
Now, let’s take a look at how the evolution of the GMB service and the increasing savviness of online users has made online reviews more important than ever.
How Online Reviews Impact Your Community
According to Bright Local, 82% of consumers read online reviews. Of them, only 53% are willing to use a business with less than a 4-star review. Online reviews impact perceptions of your brand and the ability to attract and convert new customers.
We recommend senior living and 55+ communities approach online reviews the same way they approach their marketing strategies. Every community should develop a reputation and review strategy that focuses on nurturing relationships with prospects, addressing their needs and meeting each person where they are in their individual purchase journey.
Something to note, GMB has paused new reviews from appearing on local pages for the duration of the current coronavirus crisis. But that doesn’t mean you have to put the development of your community’s review strategy on hold. You can continue to work on your strategy for soliciting reviews for other sources like Facebook recommendations and Yelp. You can also continue to focus on supporting your community’s residents/homeowners and their families, as they continue to navigate these uncertain times, and provide a positive experience for those who you’re continuing to nurture.
Online Reviews Shape Perceptions of Your Brand
Google and Facebook strive to provide consumers with the most qualified service, product or research for any given search. For Google to determine a prospect’s search results, it monitors the user’s intent, the authenticity of a business’ website and online engagement.
Senior living and 55+ communities looking to increase their brand awareness in the local market should focus on two areas: search engine optimization (SEO) and customer reviews.
Regarding SEO, we recommend targeting the keywords your prospects are searching for and optimizing the content on your site to address those inquiries. If search engines see that your content is relevant to the prospect’s search, they will boost its position in the search engine ranking pages to display your GMB profile, website information or a featured snippet from your website to more people.
Google has other key ranking factors beyond keywords.
For customer reviews, ask members of your community and their family members if they’d be willing to leave a review about the experience they’ve had with sales, the community and/or the employees. These reviews should speak to your community’s USPs and should be authentic. Don’t pre-write anything for your reviewers to cut and paste; genuine reviews carry far more weight than those that seem too professional or ingenuine. The more positive reviews you gain, the more people will trust your product or service.
Best Practices for Engaging With Online Reviews
Engaging with online reviews — the good and the bad — can help you win new prospects. An article on Reviewtrackers.com gave some great examples of how you can respond to positive reviews and negative reviews.
One of the best approaches to take when responding to comments is personalizing your replies. Prospects will notice your commitment to providing the best customer service and appreciate that you are not just cutting and pasting a generic response.
We recommend moving conversations involving negative reviews offline. Whether by email or phone call, the best way to create a positive outcome from a negative review is by speaking with the reviewer directly and addressing the manner in a more immediate fashion.
Nurturing Existing Prospects Through Online Reviews and Testimonials
A prospect has received a new brochure download and has maybe even spoken to a sales representative. Yet something is holding them back from taking the next step with your community. Online reviews and testimonials can help to support your sales pitch and give genuine feedback to the prospect who is comparing your community against your competitor.
Email and retargeting ads enable communities to showcase positive reviews while meeting the prospect where they are — in their inbox, on a website or while searching the web!
Adding resident testimonials within a drip campaign, either at the bottom of each email or having one email that focuses on testimonials, helps to give more context to the community and provide credibility. Using testimonials for ad copy or on landing pages for retargeting ads is a good approach to help support credibility as well.