By Ken Turley
When making a purchase, many people look at online reviews to see if the product or company has a good reputation. Whether they’re signing up for a subscription service, renting a self-storage unit or just buying a new toothbrush, the fact is reviews can make a huge impact in their buying decision.
A recent infographic by marketing firm Vendasta offered interesting insight to the importance of online reviews:
- 92 percent of consumers now read online reviews vs. 88 percent in 2014.
- 40 percent of consumers form an opinion by reading just one to three reviews.
- Star rating is the No. 1 factor used by consumers to judge a business.
- 68 percent of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a local business more.
- 48 percent of customers will visit a company’s website after reading positive reviews.
- 23 percent will visit the business premises directly after reading positive reviews.
- 9 percent will phone a business after reading positive reviews.
- More than half of consumers age 18 to 34 say they trust online reviews more than the opinions of friends and family.
- 86 percent of people will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews.
- 68 percent of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores.
- 30 percent of consumers assume online reviews are fake if there are no negative reviews.
- Reviews are especially important for local searches, as they influence up to 10 percent of the ranking.
If these numbers are accurate, you can expect most people searching for storage units to rely on reviews to help them choose a facility. If they’re basing their decision on just a few reviews, it’s critical to get high-quality, positive reviews. You want to ensure your prospects see lots of high ratings to build trust. The more trust they have in your business, the more likely they’ll rent from you.
Simply put: Online reviews are vital to the success of any business, and there’s a fine line to walk when obtaining them. Business owners sometimes don’t know where to get reviews or how to do so properly. Following are some guidelines to simplify the process.
The focus of your marketing strategy should be to build trust with consumers. Marketing is about telling your story building trust with a consumer so he’ll use your services or buy your products. To accomplish this, you build a website, offer promotions, set up competitive pricing, and add high-quality features like security cameras. Then you invest time and money into techniques including pay-per-click campaigns, search engine optimization, social media, etc. You do all these things to get your company’s story in front of your target audience.
For the most part, those are good things to do and vital to the success of a company. However, it’s easy to forget that online reviews are often the first impression a consumer gets of your business.
Try it out yourself. Search your facility name on Google and see what comes up. You should see a Google Business Listing containing key information and your reviews. Now try searching for something like “self-storage Dallas TX” or any other city. You’ll see the Google Map results with review ratings highlighted. If consumers are looking for storage in your area and seeing these reviews, it’s probably a good idea to invest some time into cultivating them. Online reviews are a big factor in telling your story. What do they say about your facility?
So, where and how do you get online reviews? There are so many places for people to leave them that it may be confusing to know where to direct customers. The top three places are your Google business page, your Facebook business page and your Yelp page. Reviews on these pages will have the most effect on your business. All three platforms are good, but aim to get as many as you can on Google, as it has the most effect on your rankings and website traffic.
Collecting reviews does take effort. The main thing is to make it as quick and easy as possible for customers or they won’t do it. You can tray adding a link to your preferred review platform in your e-mails and on your website so it’s convenient and they don’t have to go through a bunch of steps.
When dealing with customers in person, always ask them to leave you a review, especially when they have a positive experience. Don’t be overbearing, but always have it in mind. If they agree, ask them to go your website or social media page, or send them an e-mail with a link. Ask them to comment on things you’ve done well.
How many reviews should you collect? As many as you can. There’s no specific number you need to have, but it’s good to have at least 25. Getting them should be an ongoing part of your marketing plan.
Can you include reviews from family and friends? Theoretically, this is fine with Google and other search engines; however, you need to make sure you don’t get too many reviews at once. Google is very watchful. It knows the importance of reviews for businesses, so it wants to make sure nobody is cheating the system with fake or spam posts. Post your “friendly” reviews periodically, and try to keep it to fewer than 15. There’s no sense in getting in trouble with Google.
Handling Bad Reviews
Don’t panic over one bad review. Respond to the customer and try to resolve the problem quickly and professionally. Then go get some better reviews ASAP. The best strategy is to drown out the bad review with positive ones. In the long run, it won’t make a huge impact if you’re consistently getting good comments. Focus on your customer service and limit your negative experiences as much as you can. If you receive a bad review and a false, you can report it to Google for removal; however, you must provide proof that it’s fake or incorrect.
If you’re considering online reviews and don’t know where to start, first set up all your local business listings. Once they’re created and to include the correct information, focus on getting reviews. Don’t overdo it and get 100 reviews in one week. Rather, make it a consistent part of your marketing plan and follow through each month.
Ken Turley is CEO and co-owner of RIZE Marketing Agency, which helps self-storage companies and other businesses increase online visibility and meet marketing and operational goals. Ken has several years of experience in SEO and online marketing, and he’s helped hundreds of companies working directly with Easy Storage Solutions, a self-storage software provider. For more information visit www.selfstoragemarketing.net.