This blog post originally appeared on SolaSalonStudios.com
Love 'em or hate 'em, online reviews are a vital part of growing any service business. We know there can be a lot of fear and hesitation when it comes to online reviews. We hear things like, "Well, I don't like to brag about myself," and questions like, "What if someone writes something negative or completely untrue? What if one person's bad day turns other potential clients away?" The reality is, once in a while, it may happen, but the benefits of a strong online presence can be the difference between a thriving business and one that can't seem to keep the doors open. And, on those off-chances that you do get a negative review, there are strategies to handle those too.
If you're not used to asking for reviews, it can feel awkward to bring up with your clients. But there are ways to appear authentic when bringing up this potentially sensitive subject. Try saying something like, “As a small business owner, positive online reviews make such a big impact on me. I've been working really hard to grow my salon and a positive review from you could make all the difference in the world. While you're waiting for your color to set, if you wouldn't mind leaving a review, I would be so grateful!" And if you still don't feel comfortable, try asking via email or text message and offering a free add-on treatment or a discount on their next service for leaving a positive review.
Here are 7 reasons you should lean in to the power of online reviews in your business:
1. Puts You In the Driver's Seat
Even if you've chosen not to lean into reviews for your business, sites like Yelp allow customers to create new pages for businesses they want to review even if you haven't! If you have online chatter happening about your business that you aren't monitoring or aren't even aware of, this can create a dangerous situation for your brand reputation. If you haven't set up and claimed your own Yelp page, we highly recommend setting one up and adding pictures and a bio that you choose to represent your business, so you always stay in the driver's seat of your online presence.
2. Gives You Credibility
It’s one thing for you to write nice things about yourself, but when praise comes from someone else, that’s when you gain credibility.
3. More People Will Find You
Just like you, major search engines like Google, Yelp and Facebook want to ensure they are providing a positive experience for their users. Therefore, when someone searches for a beauty professional in your area, these search engines will prioritize businesses with more positive reviews. The higher you come up in search results, the more likely someone is to click on your page and book an appointment with you.
4. Decision Making Made Easy
Think about the last time you wanted to try out a new restaurant. Where's the first place you went? Online, right? In addition to the menu, location and hours, you likely wanted to see how other people enjoyed their experience. Looking for a new salon is no different. If someone is searching for a new beauty professional, they will want to search people in their area who perform the particular service they are looking for and then, they'll make their final choice based on what other people said about their experience. If there are two options, roughly around the same price, availability and location, but one has tons of 4 and 5 star reviews and the other has none, which would you choose? Even if all of your reviews aren't A+, simply having them could be the difference of gaining your next loyal client.
5. Free? Yes, Please!
When you think about client reviews as a marketing tactic, rather than purely self-promotion, it can shed some light on the power of reviews for your marketing strategy. Especially if you have less in your marketing budget than you may have in years past, no to low-cost, high-result marketing strategies provide the highest possible ROI (or return on investment). In 2019, 90% of consumers used the Internet to find a local business, and 82% of consumers read online reviews for those businesses, with the average consumer reading 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business. (Bright Local)
When times are tough, it's important to think outside of the box when it comes to marketing. Rather than spending money on social media ads that may not be seen, save some dough and come up with some creative ways to increase your online reviews.
The great thing about many online reviewing platforms is that, like other social media platforms, they also allow for a two-way conversation. By engaging with your online reviews, just like you would a Facebook or Instagram comment, you not only have the chance to show some gratitude to your loyal clients, but also give potential new clients the chance to see how much you appreciate and value your clients (and vice versa). When a customer sees that a business responds to a review, it goes a long way in showing, not just telling, that you truly care about your clients' experiences.
7. The New and Improved "Word of Mouth"
No matter how robust your marketing strategy is, the reality is, potential clients are more likely to trust the word of another customer rather than you. Fortunately, we no longer have to rely on the old school word-of-mouth. Reviews are basically word-of-mouth marketing, but with the convenience of being online! Apps like Nextdoor and Yelp make it easy to ask for and receive a recommendation on just about any establishment. So it’s on you to make reviewing your biz just as easy as booking you.
Once you get some killer reviews, make sure you make them visible to potential clients. Add an Instagram Story Highlight specifically for showcasing reviews, and be sure to update them frequently. The more clients see others’ reviews, the more they will be willing to write one of their own.
Click here for three ways to tackle negative reviews.