Posted on December 13, 2018
Word-of-mouth marketing has been around for centuries – people love to recommend companies that they’ve enjoyed doing business with and conversely, warn others of bad experiences they’ve had. Whether it be a local eatery, healthcare office, or contractor, people are more likely to use a business that has been recommended to them. And with the rise of social media sites, online directories and instant-sharing apps, reviews are just a click away at any time. Word-of-mouth still goes a long way in the digital world. As a matter of fact, 84% of web users value reviews as much as they would value a personal recommendation from a friend1. With this in mind, it is no wonder why more and more propane, oil, and HVAC companies are shifting their focus to online reviews.
But what exactly can reviews do for your retail energy business?
Your propane, oil, or HVAC-related business may be the best in the area – but if nobody knows about it, you’re not going to get leads. Customer reviews expose your business to readers and increase awareness of who you are and what services you provide. In fact, online reviews are often a customer or prospect’s first exposure to your business. Reviews also tend to build on themselves. Once people start leaving reviews of your business, others will be more compelled to join in. And with each new online review creating an opportunity for someone else to come across your brand, your chances of being discovered increase.
Build Credibility & Trust
While you can write the best content about how great your business is, there is no better endorsement than approval from actual customers. And with 88% of consumers trusting online reviews when considering a business2, reviews are critical to earning their business. Even those less-than-shining, negative reviews help to build trust. Customers increasingly value transparency, and by displaying these reviews, you show that your business has nothing to hide – all while making your positive reviews come across as even more sincere.
Increase Search Engine Rankings
Reviews are crucial to local search engine optimization because they get more of the right people to see your business – that is, those who are conducting searches for businesses like yours and the services that you offer. Better yet, a steady stream of reviews helps boost your rank and visibility on Google and establish a more prominent online presence. The more times your business is mentioned online, the more important search engines consider you to be. And with 56% of consumers using search engines as their top source to look for reviews about a business3, you want to make sure your business is ranked high.
Gain Insights into Customer Satisfaction
While online reviews are helpful to prospective customers, they’re just as important to your business. Reviews provide existing customers an opportunity to provide objective feedback about your business and the service that you offer. Take time to read through them and use this feedback as indicators to how well your business is doing in terms of customer satisfaction, service and overall experience. Understanding your customers and their expectations can ultimately steer you toward the goal of meeting their needs. In addition, reviews can help you identify who your top employees are and which team members may need some additional training or coaching.
Influence Purchase Decisions
Reviews give prospective customers the information they need to advance from the consideration phase to making the decision to do business with your company. In fact, 90% of people report that reviews influence their decision to make a purchase4. Once prospects browse star ratings, your number of reviews and basic business information, they’ll start reading individual reviews from your customers to see what its actually like to do business with you. And while your price range, products and services will likely be somewhat comparable to those of your competitors – its important to focus on what sets you apart from the rest. Delivering best-in-class service, having a well-trained and courteous team of CSRs and offering extended service hours are fairly simple ways to gain high praise from your customers and attract prospects.
Responding to Reviews: The Do’s and Don’ts
Once your company starts generating reviews, it’s important to take the next step – responding to them. A recent study found that when businesses respond to customer reviews (even the bad ones!), their overall ratings subsequently increase5. Skillfully responding to your online reviews not only builds your brand identity, but also keeps your online reputation in check. And with so much at stake, it’s important to get your responses right.
Recent research found that 70% of customers will leave a review – all you have to do is ask6! And with reviews playing a pivotal role in generating new business for your company, you can never have too many. Obtaining reviews is an important part of any marketing strategy and must be an ongoing process.
In one year alone, Warm Thoughts generates 2,180 positive reviews for our clients – that’s 6 new reviews every day! Contact us today to see how Warm Thoughts digital marketing programs can help you create experiences that drive leads and communicate your brand in a way that resonates with prospects and customers.