At the heart of many of these new services lies three core components:- General Business Information- Local Deals, Discounts & Coupons- Customer Opinions, Recommendations & Ratings
Make sure it’s accurate. Look yourself up on Google, Google Maps, Bing, etc.
Get out there and do some marketing, whether it is through an online coupon site, or through group-discount sites like Groupon or Living Social. This is NOT absolutely necessary for success online. It might not be for your business, but it can help draw in new potential customers. Figure out your usual cost for marketing, and per-sales-lead to determine if it’s worth the investment.
But when it comes to customers’ opinions and the public sharing of those opinions with a huge online audience, there is little businesses can do – except make damn sure their service is as good as it can be and to engage with their customers more than ever before.
You can influence the conversation and turn a potential threat into a great marketing asset.Many local search engines, local directories and local-social sites use customer reviews as a factor for how prominently they show a business in their results. Both the volume of reviews and the sentiment of those reviews have an effect on how visible a business is and businesses that can successfully encourage their users to leave positive reviews will benefit from reaching a wider audience.With 70% of local consumers now using the Internet to find good local businesses, greater visibility on search engines and local directories could put a local business in front of thousands of potential customers each month.The other upshot of positive reviews is greater Conversion. About 49% of local consumers are more likely to use a local business having read a positive online review.
Turn a potential threat into a great marketing asset.
As we’ll see ahead, 70% of local consumers now using the Internet to find good local businesses, greater visibility on search engines and local directories could put a local business in front of thousands of potential customers each month. Google is actually estimating a MUCH HIGHER number of 95% of local consumers (unverified). The other upshot of positive reviews is greater Conversion. About 49% of local consumers are more likely to use a local business having read a positive online review.
#1 --70% of local consumers have used the internet to find a local businessIn the last 12 months, 70% of survey respondents (i.e. local consumers) claimed to have searched online to find a good local business.Restaurants, hotels and shops are the most searched for types of business, but results show that local consumers search for a huge variety of local businesses online – from Dry Cleaners to Caterers.
Ensure that your business is listed on all key local search engines (e.g. Google Places) and the leading online business directories (e.g. Yelp & Superpages). Yelp.com
Nearly as many local consumers have consulted (i.e. read) online reviews as have searched online for information about local business. The two activities are joined at the hip and increasingly consumers rely on the shared experiences of others to help them make their purchasing decisions.
Go online and see what reviews have been left about your business – are they positive or negative? Also, have a look at how many reviews your customers have and how competitive your niche is.
69% of local consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.More and more people (69%) are happy to trust the opinions of online strangers as much as recommendations from people they know. This percentage jumps among younger consumers – with 79% of 16-34 year olds trusting online reviews.
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49% of local consumers are more likely to use a business that has positive reviews.The nature of the sentiment within online reviews has significant impact on the choices which local consumers make, as 49% of consumers are more likely to use a local business after reading positive reviews; but 57% of consumers will avoid a local business that has negative online reviews.
Tip for local business owners:You can’t ignore the grumblings of unhappy customers as they can come back to haunt you like never before. Instead, you need to proactively and publicly respond to negative reviews.You’ll find that you can quickly turn a bad situation into a positive one by showing that you’re alert to customer needs and working hard to provide a good service. You should also work to encourage your most loyal and happy customers to go out and spread the word.Reminder: Don’t get into public online arguments with critical customers…solve the issue offline, if all possible, but show resolution online.
Local consumers like to read up to 10 reviews before making a decision about which local business to use.Some consumers are happy to make a decision having read just 1 review, but most (73%) consumers like to read up to10 reviews before choosing a local business to use.I like to see at least 3, and get suspicious if they are ALL similar and raving positive. 1 negative review tells me someone had a bad day, and I trust the other 2 positive ones.
Tip for local business owners:Actively work to grow your reviews each month. Give your customers new reasons to promote your business and aim to add a few new reviews each month. But don’t stop when you reach 10 reviews – the more reviews the better! Include a reminder in your invoices or receipts. Put a link to a review site on your Facebook page, or email it to your best customers.Another way for you to generate more reviews directly from your website is to embed a (free) review button such ReviewBiz (by BrightLocal).If you use WordPress for a site, look for a “review” plugin.
It won’t surprise many local business owners to learn that even in the digital age, customers still want the same things from the local businesses they use. For a customer to recommend a business to someone they know it needs to be Reliable, Friendly and offer good Value for Money.Tip for local business owners:Focus on providing the best service you can at a fair price and the recommendations you earn will bring in new customers. No tricks, no gimmicks, just good service.#2)You can increase the volume of recommendations further by always offering a deal or special offer. Consider what you can offer that will appeal to both existing customers and new customers; or run 2 deals concurrently – 1 for each set of customers.Test different deals out and see which gets the best response. Keep it fresh by changing it regularly and promote it well to make ensure that your customers know about it – so they can recommend it and your business!#3) With the growing power of Facebook, make sure that you have a Facebook Places listing. Keep the listing active and tell your younger customers about it and ask them to ‘like’ you.If you run an ‘Lifestyle’ business (e.g. a cafe, pub, restaurant) then use Facebook Deals to incentivize your customers to ‘check in’ at your business and reward them for their loyalty. Get them to bring their friends along by offering an awesome group deal.
Incentivizing your existing customers to attract new customers is a common marketing practice in certain industries and business types – especially for online businesses.It’s not widely used in the local business market but local customers are very open to it, as 40% of local customers would be more likely to promote a local business if they could get a bigger discount or free service for themselves.Tip for local business owners:Setting up a ‘customer-get-customer’ system can be quick and easy. You can create some loyalty cards that have a unique special offer on them (e.g. a free coffee, 1/2 price massage, First consultation FREE).Start off small and hand pick 10 loyal customers and give each of them 20 of these cards and mark each card with the customer’s name. Keep hold of any cards that get redeemed and after 1-2 weeks, you can count the cards and reward your loyal customers appropriately. If the scheme works well then invite more customers to take part and expand it from there.
#1 Ensure that your business has an optimized listing on Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Local and the top 20 local directories.
Also, don’t forget Facebook – go and claim/register your Facebook Place now.
Using Online Search to Build Local Sales
Reach more customers!
Is at the heart of many new online services THREE CORE COMPONENTS
Reliability, Friendliness & Value for Money are the 3 most important business traits that lead recommendation. 40% of customers would be more likely to recommend a business that has a good special offer. 27% of consumers have recommended a local business on Facebook.
40% of customers would be more likely to recommend a local business if they benefited directly from it.
Summary #1 Optimize listing on Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Local and the top 20 local directories.
#2Actively grow the number of positiveonline reviews
#3Focus on the core values of goodcustomer service
Make sure you always have a good valuespecial offer on. #4
Introduce a simple, trackable system that incentivizesyour customers to recommend and promote yourbusiness. #5
Run a complete Local SEO Audit of your local business http://www.brightlocal.com/seo-tools/seo-check-up Check & Monitor Your Local Directory Listings - www.AmIvisible.org Update your listings on multiple Local Directories - www.ubl.org Drive more online reviews from your website www.brightlocal.com/seo-tools/review-biz Keep track of your online reviews www.Yext.com