How Online Reviews Can Get You More Leads - IE3: Business Tools for HVAC & Plumbing Contractors  

How Online Reviews Can Get You More Leads

Are you part of the 56% of ACCA members that have less than 10 reviews on Google? If so, you’re losing business to your competitors—I guarantee it.

At this point in the year, if you’re anything like the ACCA members I know, you know if your company is going to hit its revenue goals or not. If your numbers are looking good, congratulations! If not, I have an idea for what will boost your leads through the end of 2017: more positive online reviews. In just 15 minutes, this guide will help you get more reviews and leads so you can end the year on a high note.

But first, go read my last two articles where I talked about rethinking your digital marketing strategy and putting together a digital marketing playbook, both of which are crucial steps to set your business up for success in 2017 to set the stage for the guide below.

Done?

Let’s get started.

Why Online Reviews Are Important

I can’t recall everything I’ve learned from HVAC contractors throughout my career, but one thing I constantly here from both clients and prospects is the importance of online reviews.

Online reviews are the modern day word-of-mouth referral for heating and cooling companies—and people trust them.

What do I mean?

Instead of asking family and friends who they recommend for heating and cooling services your customers are also now utilizing by online reviews and the opinions of your previous customers—all of which are readily available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help make their decision.

As a business owner, you probably have a hunch that online reviews matter, but with so many other activities going on in your business, asking customers for reviews probably falls under the, “out of sight, out of mind” list of your to-dos.

Trust me, I get that.

But I bet you never thought about this:

  • 91% of consumers regularly or occasionally read online reviews
  • 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
  • 63% of consumers use a search engine to find online reviews
  • 58% of consumers say that the star rating of a business is most important

Source: Local Consumer Review Survey (link)

If I haven’t made my point yet, your company should do everything in its power to generate as many positive online reviews as possible from satisfied customers.

Let’s take a look at how ACCA members (that means you) are doing.

How Many Google Reviews Do ACCA Members Have?

At Blue Corona, we recently completed an analysis that summarized the digital presence of ACCA members. As one part of this, we looked at how many Google reviews each company had as well as the average rating.

That’s right, we know exactly how many ACCA members don’t have any reviews on Google.

Any guesses?

A whopping 17% of ACCA members have ZERO reviews on Google!

Zero!

On top of that, 35% of ACCA members have an aggregate rating less than three on Google, and as I mentioned at the beginning of the article, 56% have less than 10 Google reviews.

What we found in all of this is that there is a serious need for more reviews for ACCA members, regardless of where they are.

Don’t believe me? Keep reading, and I’ll prove you wrong.

Know What Your Customers Are Saying About You

To find out what your customers are saying about you, your technicians, and the service they received, go to Google and search your company name and the city you’re located in.

Let’s look at the example of this anonymous ACCA member from Garland, Texas.

When searching this company’s name and their headquarter city (something you should do), we can see that customers don’t think too highly of the company—earning a 1.6-star rating (out of five) with 33 total reviews.

Think about that for a second—they’ve got 33 reviews, and their average rating is a 1.6.

Like I mentioned above, 35% of ACCA members have less than a 3.0 rating. Are you in this camp?

Now don’t get me wrong, this is a pretty big hole to dig out of, but it’s not impossible… It’s just going to take more reviews.

Let’s look at this in comparison to other Garland HVAC contractors:

Do me a favor and put yourself in the shoes of a customer. Who would you call for air conditioning repairs if you lived in Garland—a company with a rating of 1.6, or a company with a rating of 4.4 or above?

That brings me to another important note about the companies listed above—each business ranking in the maps listings has an average Google review rating of 4+ stars and at least seven reviews. The one with seven reviews, Air Commander 1, has a 5-star average.

The takeaway here is that highly-rated Google reviews matter. Our anonymous friend from above doesn’t stand a chance (right now) on getting calls from these coveted customers.

Now let’s take a look at where you should be getting reviews.

Where to Get Online Reviews

Alright, so where should you start? You don’t need me to tell you this, but business owners are short on time and attention—and believe me when I say I feel your pain. So I’ll make this easy.

Start with Google. It’s the number one search engine in the world (capturing 63.5% of all U.S. searches).

Google reviews increase your chances of earning a top search ranking in the maps listings (pictured in the Garland example above) and separate your company from those with unfavorable reviews and potentially unsatisfactory service.

Once you’ve got at least ten Google reviews with an average rating of 4.5 stars or more, move on to other websites and review platforms.

Other important places to get reviews include:

  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • Angie’s List
  • HomeAdvisor
  • Yellowpages
  • Porch

And to be clear, you don’t have to invest in the pay-per-lead services that websites like HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List offer in order to get reviews on those sites. Whether you like it or not, homeowners look at them when researching HVAC companies. Period. So make sure the impression they’ll get about your company is a positive one.

Ready to improve your company’s online reputation—and get your phones ringing? Stick with me through the end of the article and you’ll walk away with a concrete plan for getting more reviews.

Next Steps: Go Get More Google Reviews

I’ve created a handy checklist for you to analyze your company’s online reviews and create a plan to get more. I posted it on www.marketing-toolkit.com, so go download it then follow along below.

 Step 1: Search for your company on Google and find the following (estimated time to complete: 5 minutes):

  • How many Google reviews you have
  • Your average Google review rating (out of 5.0)
  • How many Google reviews your top competitors have

If your business has a really low rating (2.0 or lower), there’s no need to panic—it’s not impossible to recover, but it is challenging and requires some legwork.

Based on your analysis, if you’ve got an average rating of less than 3.0 (that 35% of ACCA members), then you’re going to need, on average, five or more five-star reviews to help bring your average up to a 4.0.

There are a few of you that need 70+ five star reviews to bring your average up to a 4.0, but on the whole, five is a good place to start.

Step 2: Put a plan in place to get more reviews (estimated time to complete: 10 minutes)

According to a study by BrightLocal, seven out of 10 customers say they will leave you a review if you ask. So now that you’ve got a baseline from step one, it’s time to get to work. There are several ways to earn more Google reviews, but the easiest is to start asking!

We’ve seen results like that with our clients who actively use review platforms, like ours: Review Us Now. It’s also how some companies generate several HUNDRED reviews (looking at you, A.J. Perri).

Don’t want to use a review platform? I recommend you follow up with customers via email or phone call a few days after providing service and if they’re happy, ask them to leave you a review on Google!

We made it easy for you and included a quick script in our worksheet that your CSRs (or you) could use to ask for a Google review. Perhaps the most effective way to generate more Google reviews is to send them your review link directly (also included in our cheat sheet).

One important thing to note: if you’re looking to get 5 reviews, you should call or email at least 10 customers. While the majority of happy customers will be glad to leave you a review, more is always better in the world of online reviews.

Step 3: Monitor your reviews (estimated time to complete: 5 minutes, each month)

Once per month, take five minutes out of your day to repeat step #1 to see how many reviews you have, how many your competitors have, and what your average review rating is.

In addition to this monthly check-in, I always recommend personally responding to every negative review your company earns on Google. Why? It shows other searchers your outstanding customer service and the importance of customer satisfaction to your company.

Don’t worry about a couple negative reviews here or there. You can’t satisfy every customer no matter how hard you try. In our study, we found that only 15% of ACCA members with greater than 10 reviews had a perfect rating, so there’s a good chance that you’ll have a few less than stellar reviews. Simply address the negative review in a polite manner and provide the reviewer with next steps to resolve the issue offline.

And if you have a little more time, give a shout out to all the positive reviewers, too! For positive reviews, thank the customer for their loyalty and tell them how happy you were to help them. If you’re feeling extra generous, you can provide more information about maintenance programs, referral incentives, or more.

No matter what type of review you’re responding to, the general rule of thumb for any review response is short, sweet, and to the point.

Don’t have even five minutes to spare? Ask one of your office administrators to respond or ask your internet marketing company to do so for you (assuming you have a great partnership with them, of course).

Turn Your Website into a Virtual Sales Rep

Google reviews can be the difference between a prospective customer clicking on your website and your competitor’s site. With information readily available at the fingertips of each and every consumer in your community, establishing your company as THE AUTHORITY on Google should be a top priority.

Still have questions about reviews? My company has helped countless HVAC companies (including ACCA members) improve their search presence and use their websites to turn visits into leads. If you’re still feeling a little lost with regard to online reviews—or any other aspect of your digital marketing strategy—feel free to give me a call. I’m always here to help.

Ben Landers

Ben Landers

President & CEO at Blue Corona
A passionate entrepreneur with more than ten years of experience in the digital marketing and analytics industry, Ben and the Blue Corona team have helped hundreds of companies accurately track and optimize their advertising campaign performance and get more leads and sales from the web.

After starting his career in online media, recruitment advertising, and software sales at HotJobs.com, Ben spent time in the telecommunications industry and later went on to become the East Coast regional manager of an advertising and marketing agency. Shortly thereafter, Ben met Bob Perini. Together, they developed the concept that would become Blue Corona.
Ben Landers

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