There’s nothing better than landing a job off the back of a referral. Maybe it’s a happy customer passing your details on to friends or family. Perhaps it’s a glowing review of your business that leads new customers right to your door.
Even in the digital age, word of mouth remains a compelling force that any trade or service professional can leverage to bring in more work and keep customers returning.
Digital word of mouth works the same way, but navigating the ins and outs of effectively marketing your business in an online space can be difficult. After all, the internet exposes you to potentially endless amounts of praise, but the same goes for negative responses to both your business and your professional image. If approached correctly, though, digital word of mouth can help provide a trade or service business with consistent work at virtually no cost other than a bit of time and effort.
This article will explore perhaps the most important component of digital word of mouth, online reviews. We’ll cover why customers trust the opinions of other customers, how to lay the groundwork for positive customer reviews, and why you should respond to both positive and negative reviews.
Along the way, we’ll also provide tips on optimising your business to focus on digital word of mouth and capitalise on the power of free recommendations.
Part 1: People trust people.
Think back to the last time you purchased something substantial; maybe it was a television, or perhaps it was something pricey like a new car or work truck. Now consider how you formed the decision that eventually led to you making that choice. Along the way, you probably asked around for the thoughts of friends and family, researched some expert opinions on the options available and, of course, read some online reviews. In fact, a study in December of 2020 by Brightlocal found that 87% of customers read online reviews for local businesses.
As humans, we trust the information provided to us by people we deem reliable sources of knowledge and insight. This is so important for your business because your current customers are that source of information. They’ve done business with you in the past, and any new customers will want to know what they have to say before hearing anything from you.
No matter how good your service is and how hard you work, digital word of mouth will often decide whether a prospective customer gets in contact with you. This makes recommendations in the form of customer reviews an essential commodity for reinforcing to customers that you’re the best choice for them. Many trade professionals assume that a good social media presence and a flashy logo will be enough to get customers across the line. But the reality is that these serve only to showcase your ability to entice customers, not get them transacting with your business.
On the other hand, reviews are first-hand accounts of what it’s like to work with you and what kind of service you provide. They often dig into the nitty-gritty of what customers can expect and overall whether your business is worth their time. People searching for a product or service value this first-hand experience highly, and businesses that fail to foster positive reviews are missing out on work as a result.