Creating fresh, interesting content for your website can seem like a never-ending task – which, actually it is. Sort of like how showing up for work every day is a never-ending task. Yet, while in most businesses you can’t send other people to work in your place, in website content creation, you actually can allow someone else to help you create content that prospects will find of interest – namely customers, specifically in customer reviews.
Your reviews will not only provide third-party endorsements for your products and services, but they can also improve the organic search traffic that brings prospects to your site. It’s more content, after all – and it’s typically using keywords that prospects would enter into search fields. So, to bring in more reviews, here are some tactics to pursue:
- Teach customers how to review.It’s true – some people just don’t know how to review. They’re not comfortable putting words together and won’t know what to say or how to proceed without guidance. So guide them already. And again, when you do, you’ll be guiding them in how to use language that customers would use in search engines – which is a plus for SEO. In particular:
- Provide detailed instructions – For example, include a link in your footer for “Write a Customer Review,” which can take visitors to a page with instructions and screenshots. You can also link to this page when encouraging your customers via email or Facebook to write reviews.
- Promote good examples – What constitutes a good review? Show it so they’ll see. Select a well-written review to feature in emails or social media outlets. Show customers how to elaborate on the service experience and product appreciation. That way, they can see how to write more than “good job” and will be more likely to script something like, “I appreciated how they were respectful of my time, neat in their appearance, friendly in their attitude and serious about their work.”
- Encourage customers to review.How can you motivate customers to write reviews? Try something like this:
- Create a Sweepstakes– Enter the name of any customer who writes a review for a drawing for $100 in free service. Promote the sweepstakes via website, email, Facebook profile and Twitter feed.
- Email Encouragement– Periodically send emails showing examples of great reviews and encouraging your audience to write one of their own.
- Follow-Up Email– After a job, send a follow-up email to your customers encouraging a review.
- Share reviews on social networks.Tweet links to a good review from the company’s Twitter feed. Example: “See what one customer says about why she was happy with our service and can’t wait to see lower energy bills (add link).” You can also allow customers to click a checkbox on their review to have it sent to their Facebook profiles. (They’ll have to log in to Facebook before sending.)
- Make reviews search-friendly.An important requirement for using user-generated reviews for SEO is to make sure that they are visible to search engines. If the reviews are not visible when the search engine’s spiders visit your site, then they will not help your rankings.
- Allow ratings and voting.Customers can write a review and provide an overall rating, while visitors to the page can click “yes” or “no” to indicate whether a review is helpful. Watch for rating mistakes, however. If you see a rating that is especially low (a one star on a five-star scale), reach out to the customer and ask if the rating is accurate. It could have been a misunderstanding of the instructions.
Remember, before your prospects contact your company, they listen to what those who know you better have to say. They go online, talk to friends, even look at your Facebook Page.
So how can you get your customers to talk about you more often, in even more strategic ways? Creating “brand advocates” among your customer base begins the way most good customer relationships do:
Serve at a higher level. Give your customers a reason to appreciate you by keeping your promises – providing same-day service, installations precisely as estimated, work that’s guaranteed, products that are warranted. Go above and beyond with 24/7 service. Learn your customers’ names. Talk to them as friends, sharing “inside information.” Follow up personally. Stay in touch.
Correct problems. No one’s perfect, and when you can recognize your weaknesses and address them through solid customer service, you build relationships. When you ignore them, you weaken relationships not just with the initial customer but with all his friends, relatives and social media followers.
Make it easy to tell your story. Create “sharable” content through videos, reports or blogs that highlight a problem you can solve. Create strong, intriguing offers that are also easy to share. And of course…
Give customers incentives. Creating a referral program where customers get a reward (such as a future discount or restaurant gift card) shows you appreciate them. If most people are happy with your service and products, they’ll be happy to tell others who are seeking the same service. But someone needs to get that thought in their heads – and that someone is you.
A referral program (online and offline) with an incentive helps trigger the referral process and provides a reward for something that your customers may have done freely. But they will appreciate you even more when they get your incentive. And that’s another way you’re continuing to serve at a higher level.