Why do reviews matter so much?
The social web has rewritten the rules on how consumers seek and hire professionals. According to the recent North American Technographics online benchmark survey, 70% of consumers trust recommendations from friends, and 46% of consumers trust reviews on sites like Yelp. Only 10% trust online ads.
For professionals like CPAs, tax accountants, and attorneys, most new clients come in through the following three marketing pipelines: word of mouth, online reviews, and social media. If you don't have all three of these funnels optimized, you are missing out. As each of these funnels gets stronger, the amount of leads and new prospects get amplified, thanks to better search engine results for your website.
How it works:
Google and other search engines return results for searchers based on keywords. If someone was new to a town, they might search for “Newport Beach dentist,” for example. A searcher will find several websites to visit, and will make a decision based on first impressions. As they narrow their search down, the second step would be to read reviews. The better the quality of your reviews, the more likely a consumer will contact you. Google also uses the review rankings in their algorithm, which decides where your website shows in searches. So, the quality and the quantity of review matters.
Next steps for getting more reviews:
Start promoting your Yelp and Google Places directory listings. Whether it is through the badges that are provided by the vendor (in the case of Yelp, you need a few reviews before this option is available) or by adding links from your email signatures, websites, or directory listings.
2) Ask for reviews. Be proactive. Send an email to your client base and ask them for a review. Once they start, they will generate more reviews as you go forward.
3) Promote using your email signatures and client newsletter. In the footer of your emails, create a link to your Yelp page: Ex: Give us your feedback on Yelp! More than 20 others already have!!!
5) Promote your Yelp profile across your social media accounts. This additional distribution can generate some great reviews without much effort.
6) Provide your clients' great service. If your clients feel valued, they are much more likely to make the effort to leave a review for you as a reward.
7) Respond to reviews. Acknowledging and responding to reviews shows that you are proactive. This may also help move you up in the search results.
Understanding how Yelp and Google Places fit into your marketing for accountants planning is crucial to your success. New media is redefining how you promote your business. The social web has taken the referral to new levels with reviews. Make it a part of your promotional efforts and see the results.
Lee Reams II
I am a marketing junkie who has spent the last 20 years developing and executing "best in class" word-of-mouth marketing campaigns. With over 10,000 happy clients I think we are on to something. The explosion in web marketing and social media have redefined the way independent professionals market their practices. Follow my blog to see if you can take some of our actionable ideas to market your own practice.