In-person, word-of-mouth marketing can be an exceptionally powerful marketing tool, but so can digital word-of-mouth marketing. In fact, Inc. shared research that found that 91 percent of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews and 84 percent trust these reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
Leveraging free review sites, such as TripAdvisor, Google Business and Yelp can be an exceptional way to spur organic reviews and get the word out to potential customers about your products or services. However, getting them set up is just half the battle – gaining reviews is the real way to win consumers hearts. We’ve broken down a few unique, free ways to get the most out of your site listings in order to gain the most exposure for your business.
According to TripAdvisor, in 2017 the site saw an average of 455 million unique monthly visitors in 49 markets worldwide and received 600 million reviews and opinions. The site’s recent integration with Facebook not only helps to increase search rankings for listings, it also drove 35 percent of reviews to the TripAdvisor site. The more reviews that your business receives online, the higher its ratings on the site.
Some free tools they have available to increase the likelihood of receiving reviews can be found in the management center. They include:
- Travelers Review app for your business’ Facebook page,
- Social media buttons and widgets to display your TripAdvisor awards and reviews,
- “Review Us” stickers for your property,
- “Review Us” reminder cards and other downloadable assets (printing costs are additional),
- Review Express, an automated and professional looking email that can be sent to customers polity requesting reviews, and more.
According to StatCounter, in August 2018 Google had 84.5 percent share of the search engine market. There is no denying the power of Google. Many clients are interested to know how they can create a Google “Snippet” so that they’re easily found in attraction searches for an area on Google. To ensure that your business receives top real estate, you first have to ensure that you claim your business on Google. By doing that, your business becomes easily found on Google Search, Maps and Google+.
If you don’t already have a website, you can create a simple one for free via Google. From there, you can encourage and respond to reviews on Google, and list your hours and locations. You can also publish custom posts that show up in your Google preview, and access free analytics on the Google Business Dashboard to see where your traffic is coming from. Leveraging these free tools will help potential customers easily view images of your products and services, and find you in location based web searches.
According to Nielsen, consumers rank Yelp as the #1 review site for finding local businesses. What makes Yelp stand out a bit more from the other review sites is the strong community that the platform has built (you can actually read some excerpts from a Yelp user on why they enjoy being a part of the community in their ebook).
There are quite a few free tools at your disposal as a business owner when leveraging Yelp:
- Request free “Find us on Yelp” signage for your business to encourage reviews,
- “People Love Us on Yelp” window clings (these are only granted to qualifying businesses and issued twice a year via an automated direct mail),
- Free Yelp Events can be scheduled with your local Yelp representative to encourage reviews,
- Set up “Check-in Offers” to make your business more appealing to Yelpers,
- Showcase positive Yelp reviews on your website, and more.
Honest Reviews Only
Remember, you cannot pay someone to falsely post reviews on any of these sites. Not only is it dishonest, it’s illegal. The CEO of TripAdvisor recently sent a letter to business owners regarding the first legal case of its kind against the owner of an illegal business that was selling fake reviews. Leveraging review sites with honesty will help ensure that your business stays safe and your customers remain happy.
If you’re a PR pro looking for more tips, check out our three clever tactics to help launch a new service, and our guide on how to handle negative social media reactions for your restaurant like a pro.