Using Customer Reviews to Increase Brand Awareness
As a small business owner, your brand is everything, and you better believe customer reviews play a huge role in how your brand image is shaped.
Your brand is the culmination of all of your hard work and dedication that encourages consumers to purchase your product or service. When a prospective customer sees or hears one of your brand elements, they’ll immediately associate it with the product or service you offer…. or they should anyway. Well, a significant portion of a brand’s online reputation can be attributed to customer reviews – is your business using them effectively?
While there are dozens of different ways to increase brand awareness, one of the most effective and influential is online customer reviews.
If you’re just starting out you may want to consider the following 4 basic steps before you begin to focus on building customer reviews:
If you haven’t done so already, scoop up the domain name for your brand (e.g. yourbrand.com). It should come as little-to-no surprise that Google, Bing, Yahoo and even the smaller search engines view domain names as a ranking signal, meaning you are more likely to achieve a top search ranking for keywords associated with your brand if you register and use your brand’s domain name.
Don’t limit yourself just to the dot com, but also register the dot net and dot org, as well. These are generally viewed as the most essential domain extensions. While Google has said that it treats all extensions the same, numerous studies have found dot com, net and org to yield the most value in terms of SEO.
Of course, the single most important step towards increasing brand awareness in the search results is to publish high-quality content on your brand’s website. Doing so will encourage search engines to scan and crawl your pages, which should in turn boost your site’s search ranking. And when your site ranks higher in the search results, it will take up more “search engine real estate” for terms related to your brand. Just remember to include brand-specific terms in your content, such as your business’s name, tagline, address, email address, etc.
Just a side note: according to a Demand Gen Report survey, 97 percent of B2B buyers find user-generated content more credible than other content types.
Why is this important? Customer reviews are user generated content and these kinds of results and numbers demonstrate why it’s so important to communicate with customers in their own language. Customer reviews as a form of web content helps add credibility and relevance to your products or services, candid feedback from those same customers can help you strengthen your value proposition and your core messaging.
If you really want to go the extra mile, try purchasing Google pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements for your brand name. There are several benefits associated with bidding on your brand name, one of which is the simple fact that it creates a new listing in the search results. Furthermore, brand terms usually have minimal competition; thus, they cost a fraction of the price of “regular” keywords.
Take a look at how we used Google Adwords to launch and drive traffic to Dish Republic, a local gourmet dinner delivery site. The main takeaway from the screenshot below is that the top Ad group is our brand specific group for which we the most impressions, the most conversions with a staggering 828.19% Conversion Rate and all for a fraction of the cost!
Google alerts is an invaluable tool for increasing brand awareness in the search engines. This free-to-use service will send notifications to your email anytime your brand name is mentioned online. By identifying new “mentions” of your brand, you can respond to customer reviews, questions, comments and more in a timely manner.
Here is a GREAT guide by HubSpot for using Google Alerts to monitor your company’s online presence.
Advantages of Customer Reviews for Online Businesses
Ecommerce businesses already know how important customer reviews are as a whopping 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision and according to BrightLocal, over 50% of people check reviews before hiring service oriented businesses.
Reasons for Allowing Online Customer Reviews
Whether your business sells a physical product, a digital product, or service (or all three), you should consider allowing customers to submit and post reviews on your website. From big-name retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart to smaller e-commerce “boutiques,” there are tens of thousands of websites that support customer reviews.
So, why should you allow customers to post reviews about your business?
For starters, it will almost certainly have a positive impact on sales and conversions. According to BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. When a consumer reads a positive review about your business’s product or service, they’ll be more inclined to purchase it themselves.
Allowing customers to post reviews on your website also instills a higher level of confidence among visitors. If an e-commerce or online retailer allows its customers to post reviews, then it obviously has nothing to hide. On the other hand, stores that prohibit customers from posting reviews may be attempting to conceal their true nature, in which cases some customers may thin twice before clicking the “buy” button.
Where and how to start getting customer reviews for your business
Google My Business Reviews
In addition to allowing customers to submit reviews on your website, you can also enable this feature on your Google My Business Page. Once you’ve created your Page and verified your business (note: businesses must be verified in order for customers to submit reviews), users can share their experiences – good or bad.
To make things easier, check out Grade Us to easily generate review links to your Google Business Listing.
Customers Reviews on Your Facebook Page
Of course, you can also encourage customers to post reviews on your Facebook Page. Keep in mind, however, that Facebook only allows users to post reviews on “local” Facebook Pages. If you set up your Page under a different category, such as Entertainment or Brand, you’ll have to either create a new Page or change the category under your Page’s settings.
The BEST way to gain Facebook reviews is to simply ask customers to leave a Facebook review through email. It’s best to ask right after their visit or right after you’ve completed a great service experience with them – since their experience will be fresh in their mind. Send them an offer, newsletter, post-purchase email, post-visit email, or confirmation.
Make sure to provide a direct link to your Facebook page in the email to make it easier for consumers to leave their review.
Customers Reviews for Your Amazon Products and Seller Account
If you sell online, Amazon reviews could possibly be the most important source of reviews for your business. Not only does Amazon require you to generate a certain amount of reviews to remain a credible seller, but both seller and product reviews directly impact how well your sales will do on that platform. If you’re looking for the best way to automate this process to better manage your Amazon account then you will definitely want to check out Feedback Genius. This 3rd party service is well worth the money to generate seller feedback and product reviews.
Customer Review Plugin for WordPress
If your website runs WordPress (and it should!), you can install the WP Customer Review plugin to support customer reviews. This free-to-use plugin does exactly what it says: it allows visitors to submit reviews about your products or services. This can be done manually by hard-coding a review feature into your website, but opting for a plugin like WP Customer Review is much easier and less time-consuming. Furthermore, it’s equipped with other helpful tools, such as the ability to write your own product reviews on a specific page.
Nearly 9 in 10 consumers have read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business, and 39% do so on a regular basis. Isn’t it time your business takes advantage?
Customer reviews are so important to companies that many businesses have been built on finding ways to help companies just like yours acquire, convert, retain and understand customers through this form of user generated content. Like YotPo says; “happy customers are your best marketers.”