It happens more and more each day. Whether it’s a restaurant on yelp or a pediatrician on DoctorBase – customers are beginning to leave online reviews about local small businesses. While this can be irksome or an ego boost to an owner, let’s think about the social implications of this –
For every one person that actually writes a review, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of people who will read it over time. Like it or not, that one reviewer just became your PR spokesperson.
You can leverage the power of online reviews to your advantage, or be swept up by them as your monthly revenues falter. Here’s how to turn positive reviews around into positive cashflow while identifying the unhappy customers so they don’t go to yelp.
1) Have an email list. The best way to get customers to give you their email addresses is to offer them something (or a chance to win something) by placing their business card in a fishbowl. It’s manual work I know, but those business cards can be used to create a powerful email marketing list. There are also business card readers that can connect to your computer and scan their email addresses in for you so there’s minimal work.
2) Use a tool like Mail Chimp or My Emma and upload your email list. For your first email ‘blast,’ offer your loyal customers a coupon that they can redeem. For example, Premiere Center, a plastic surgery retail outfit in FL, did this with their email list and they included two links in the email –
a) a link to sign up for a $50 coupon to a Botox Party.
b) a link to their CitySearch profile page asking happy patients to leave them reviews and feedback.
They sold out the first 75 spots within 2 days and were able to ditch their expensive postcard mailing campaign. They also amassed over 9 happy patient reviews!
* Interestingly enough, we recently noticed a small business owner with negative reviews on Yelp promote their business via Groupon. While we had seen a history of such small businesses doing well over $50,000 of Groupon sales in one day, this particular outfit’s deal did not even ‘tip’ (meaning not enough people bought the coupon for it to go live). It was a powerful reminder of just how important reviews have become to customer’s buying decisions.