Word of mouth generates hot leads rather than cold ones. Customer referrals have always been and will continue to be the best way to gain new business. This hasn’t changed with the advent of the digital age, but it does look and operate a little differently.
The Social Media Town Square
There was a day when people got their news from the “town cryer.” Every town or village had a central area where people gathered to do business and exchange information. From there it moved to local cafes where the morning crowd all knew each other and depended on their friends to give them referrals for trustworthy business owners.
Today, connection is easier and broader on digital platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the new connection apps that are popping up every few months. In fact, 91% of young adults trust online reviews just as much as recommendations from someone they know.
In the digital age, people don’t have to be in the same town, state or country to refer friends and relatives to businesses they love. They can simply visit a business’s Facebook page, Twitter account or Pinterest page and invite their friends to like it. If they really love you, they’ll take the time to write a review.
If someone is looking for a trustworthy referral, they can simply do a “looking for recommendations” post on Facebook. Friends will comment with their favorite service providers or products in response to the post. Lots of people seem happy to provide their opinions, positive and negative, to these types of posts.
The Golden Goose: Online Reviews
Whether it is Facebook, Google, Yelp or LinkedIn, positive reviews posted by your customers are worth more than almost any other type of advertising. These small snippets can be the foundation for ongoing success in your business.
There are several reasons for this. First, these reviews are voluntary and verifiable. They aren’t anonymous and are not easy to falsify, especially when it comes to Google reviews. The fact that someone took the time to write a positive review for your business adds credibility to their comments. This means that readers tend to trust these online reviews, even though they may not know the person who wrote the review.
The Best Methods For Getting Online Referrals
It would seem that simply asking happy customers to leave an online review for you would be the simplest way to get those coveted reviews, but it’s not. They may say yes with full intentions of following through, but it’s not likely to happen. Within 10 minutes, that thought will be replaced by something more personal and pressing than promoting your business. So, how can you make it easier and more top of mind for them? These two tips can make it easier for your customers to follow through on your request.
Make it a digital request. Sending out thank-you emails to repeat customers can be a great way to request an online review. If your customers have given you permission to text them, sending a message via text can work as well. By sending your request digitally, you know that the person will have online access when they receive the request. This means it will be easier for them to take you up on your invitation to leave feedback.
Create a review page. Instead of sending them a link to your Facebook page or your Yelp or Google account, give them a link to a page on your website that allows them to choose where to leave their review. Make sure to provide detailed instructions on how to go about posting a review for each opportunity you make available to them.
Make the effort necessary to encourage feedback on as many different platforms as possible. Encourage Google reviews as your top pick because of its extensive reach through its search engine and maps. Remember, in the digital age, not having reviews can be as damaging as a bad review.