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Reviews are Reviews are Reviews

I’ve had a lot of people ask me over the past few weeks what they can do with reviews or feedback they’ve received over the years that didn’t “qualify” as official Google or Facebook reviews.
They’re not useless. Here’s what you can do with them!

Quote Them!

If you’re like many business owners, you’ve gotten comments, thank-you cards, e-mails, and text messages in the past years that have told you how much they appreciated your service. And, while they don’t count as official reviews unless the customer logs into their account and leaves it on your Facebook or Google profile, you can still use them (with their permission, of course!). 
Say Mrs. Smith responded to a follow-up e-mail where you just checked in after the job to make sure that everything ran smoothly. If her response says something like:
“Joe did a fantastic job. I’ve never seen my carpets look this clean. I’m going to tell all my friends and neighbors about you guys!”
Do you think that’s worth sharing? Absolutely! Quickly reply back to her and ask if you quote her on your website or on Facebook using only her first name, last initial, and city. Chances are, she’ll be fine with it. Hey, she may be willing to even go there and write it herself!

Snap It!

There’s a fair chance you’re reading this on a device that can help you here – your smartphone. If you received some feedback from a customer – especially hand-written – you can take a quick snapshot of that feedback and share it on Facebook, Google, Instagram, anywhere! A hand-written note is SO much more credible to the viewer.
If you decide to post it to social media, quote the note in the caption for it in case the handwriting may be difficult to read. Once again, cite the person’s first name, last initial, and city.
Big Takeaway:
You work hard to make your customers happy, so you should absolutely use every bit they give you back to its fullest potential. If you can’t get an official online review, you can still use what they give you.
  1. Always invite customers to leave you reviews and feedback on Google, Facebook, and Yelp.
  2. Quote your satisfied customers on social media to add credibility to your work.
  3. Use visual media to enhance your results by sharing pictures of handwritten reviews and feedback.
To stay relevant in the online business world, you need reviews. You should do everything you can to get them – in whatever form they may take.
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Make Reviews a Priority this Year!

Quick Review-Getting Tips for Your Business
 Source_ www.kudobuzz.com
At our national convention this year, one of the big messages throughout many of our sessions was the importance of online reviews. Not only do they tell potential customers how awesome you are, but they’re now one of the #1 looked-at sources of information on a businesses’ trustworthiness and level of service. They’re also a HUGE player in how your business can get found online.

Getting Reviews Can Be Simple!

At convention, we introduced several vendors that all offer services to help you get reviews that will improve your online presence. Of the lot, one of my favorites was Podium, and I’ll explain why.
When it comes to getting online reviews, you need to either catch people in the emotional moment of satisfaction, or remind them of it. One of the best tactics I’ve seen to get reviews is doing it in the customer’s home directly after the cleaning is done and you’re performing the post-cleaning walk through
In a nutshell, Podium offers an app on your phone that allows you to send a text message or email link to the customer right away. When the customer opens the link, Podium’s software scans the phone to look for active logins like Google and Facebook, giving them a seamless way to promote reviews on the site you want most. You also get a dashboard that tracks reviews and flags any negative responses that may require your attention.
It’s really a neat system that coordinates some of the key activities at key moments. And, since Podium is a PAP, they’re offering Chem-Dry franchisees a special discount on their services. Contact them at www.podium.com and mention that you are with Chem-Dry and reap the benefits of this useful tool.
_____________________________________________________
If you want to do a home-spun version, here’s a quick tip that you can use in your customers’ homes to get more reviews.

Create a Short URL

That’s right. A short URL allows you to share a specific webpage with a customer without taking a ton of space.
This makes it perfect for use in a text message, tweet, or even a Facebook message.

You can use any service you like whether it be Bit.ly, Ow.Ly, or Goo.gl to do it. But the principle is the same – it’s easy and it takes up less space.

I recommend Bit.ly because you can create a free account that allows you to make custom URL’s (that you can name), and also see tracking/analytics on the links as well.
Here’s what I mean:

Get Your Link

Do a quick Google search for your company by name. Go ahead. Open a new tab and do it now. Here’s one I did for one of my wife’s favorite restaurants: 
You might have to scroll down a bit, but you’ll see on the right hand side of your screen a “Write a Review” button.
When you click on that button, a new URL will appear in the address bar up at the top of your screen.
Highlight it, and copy it (Ctrl+C).
Now, open up a new tab in your browser and go to one of those URL shortening tools I mentioned earlier. I’ll show you Bit.ly.

Make it Short

Now that you’re on Bit.ly (I recommend creating a free account. It only takes a minute.), click the “Create Bitlink” button.
Now you’ll paste the long URL from your Google “Write a Review” button. It will look something like this:
The link will automatically shorten to something looking like this:
Now, you can be done here if you like. That link is yours and you can track it easily.
Or you can take it one step further – Customizing it so it appears more official to your customer.
Highlight everything after the “bit.ly/” and start typing something short, but custom. Your business name, for instance. If you plan on doing this for other sites like Yelp, Facebook, Angie’s List, or others, you may want to add some sort of letter or number code to the end so you can keep track of it.
In this case, I added “Goog” to the end to let me know this is the Google link.

Now SEND!

Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Now that you have these incredibly useful links, you can use them to invite customers for reviews. It’s easy.
As you’re wrapping up your work and getting ready to reload your equipment, you approach your customer (who’s probably been on their phone a considerable amount of the time you were there) and say:
“Hey, Mr./Mrs. Brown, could I send you a quick text message with a link to leave us a review?”
Since you most likely already have their phone number from when you booked the appointment, I’d bet 8-9 times out of 10, they’ll agree. Simply type in the number, paste the link with a message like “Find us on Google here: ______________.”
I’ve seen a dozen or so cases where this has resulted in a 5-star review by the time you’re driving away. The biggest reason this works, is because you’re doing it NOW versus in a follow-up e-mail or phone call (not that you shouldn’t do those).

BONUS TIP!

You can be strategic about which links you send to your customers. 
If you notice that Mrs. Brown is using an Android device, there’s a good chance that she has a Google account, so you may want to send her the Google link. There’s a lower chance of success for Google if she’s on an iPhone.
You can also ask if they have a preference. Say something like “Would Google, Facebook or Yelp work best for you?” A regular Yelp-er will opt for that because it helps their standings.

Big Takeaway:

 Your business needs reviews. It’s a key strategy to winning online business and gaining the trust of your customers before they ever pick up a phone.
  1. These vendors and methods are just tools. You only get value out as you use them.
  2. Near the end of every interaction you have with your customers, invite them to rate their experience by leaving a review.
  3. Whether you hire a vendor or do it yourself, the bottom line is to DO IT.
You can take control of your online reputation today and establish a better future for your business. You can register to receive updates about future webinars on digital marketing.
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Good, Better and BEST Online Reviews

  Image Source_ Huffingtonpost.com

In addition to last week’s message on Pay-Per-Click ads, I’d like to propose another goal for your business to work on in 2017 – online reviews.

Google’s search algorithms tend to favor two types of businesses – online retailers and brick & mortar shops that do business at their location. Neither of those describe most Chem-Dry franchises where you operate out of a home or shop and service a specific area. But there seems to be a workaround – REVIEWS.

What Reviews are Best?

When it comes to valuable reviews, I’d put them into three tiers: Good, Better, and Best.

If you’re going to put resources behind acquiring online reviews, I feel it’s worth going after the ones that are going to do you the most good.Here’s what I mean.

“Good” Reviews

Really, any review is good – wherever you get it. Some  websites, however, are more accessible to people than others and can have a higher payoff.

For instance, I would put the following websites in the “Good” category because of their visibility online, their influence on your own website presence, and difficulty to get them:

  • YellowPages.com
  • HomeAdvisor.com
  • AngiesList.com
  • Thumbtack.com
  • CustomerLobby.com

You’ll notice a trend here. These are typically websites that are aimed at helping the in-home service industry, which is not a bad thing. However, (with the exception of YP.com) you have to have an account to really view or leave a review on those sites. If you do a significant amount of business on those sites (I know some of you do), then go for it – especially if your customer came from that site. But if you’re looking for general reviews, I’d focus elsewhere.

“Better” Reviews

For the same reasons I mentioned earlier, some review sites
that I’d put into my “Better” tier are:

  • Yelp.com
  • Bing.com
  • Yahoo.com
  • Amazon.com
  • BBB.com

I’d put these sites into the “Better” tier because they will play more readily into search algorithms that benefit your business and are more visible and highly-regarded resources. But, once again, they’re not what I’d rate as “the BEST”.

The “BEST” Reviews 

There are two review venues that, to me, qualify for the “Best” tier and I’ll explain why.

Google: Google reviews are the crème de la crème of reviews. They’re the hardest to get, but they’re also the most valuable as they are built right into their search algorithm. They are the fastest way to climb the ladder in the Google Map listings and “Snack Pack”. HOWEVER, in order leave a review on Google, the customer has to have an active Google account, not just a “gmail.com” e-mail address. While most people who have a “gmail.com” e-mail address also have an account, it’s not everybody.

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, and for that reason, it’s a FANTASTIC resource for getting reviews. Almost everyone you service has a Facebook account and logs in daily, so they’re familiar with it. It’s easy for them to leave a review. PLUS, in order to do so, they’ll usually “like” your page and see updates from you afterward.
Facebook is also aiming to become a one-stop-shop for many commerce solutions, which means they’re doing a lot of work to SEO and making sure businesses show up on relative Google Searches – they WANT Facebook to be a part of the purchase process. When you get reviews on your Facebook page, you’re getting endorsements on a very visible platform that can turn into a LOT more business.
Who Can Help?  
I’ve written before about easy ways to get reviews and simple practices that can increase your marketing database. But you’re busy. I get it. Who else can help you get these reviews? We see so much value in getting good, valuable online reviews that we’ve done a load of legwork to help connect you with some of the best vendors in the world to get your business noticed. Here are a few we’ve recently partnered with and what they do:
*****Disclaimer***** These vendors provide tools for your use. They are only as valuable as you make them.

ReviewTrackers: If you’ve subscribed to a Premium  listing on Local Search Directory (ChemDry.com), you automatically get ReviewTrackers for free. I explain more about how it works here.

Broadly:
Broadly is a new PAP partner that has a very impressive résumé. They’re an integrated review platform that utilizes cookies and online sessions to streamline the process of posting online reviews. They’ll be at our convention in Nashville and I’ll be hosting a webinar with them early in 2017. You’ll be amazed at what they can do.

Podium: (From the their product page) “Podium brings your business’ reputation, from across the web, into one centralized place where your can effectively build and manage your online reviews from multiple sites. With Podium, it’s easy to see your portfolio of online reviews to make faster, better-informed decisions.”
So Tell Us: So Tell Us recently joined us for a webinar where they explained what they’re all about – video reviews. Yes, that’s right. Think about this for a second. You’re not just getting a text review from people, you’re getting video. Of their face. Saying words. Posting to your various websites. Can you imagine how valuable that is to viewers? Instant credibility.
Big Takeaway:
It’s Business 101. Your satisfied customers are one of your best assets, not only for getting repeat business, but also for finding new customers. You need to be getting reviews online. Want to get more in the “BEST” tier?
  1. Create a business Facebook page. Here’s how.
  2. Create a Google+ Business listing. Learn how.
  3. Schedule some time with me to go over a strategy for getting more online reviews.
Take control of your social media today and establish a better future for your business. Then register to receive updates about future webinars on digital marketing.
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3 Steps to Getting GREAT Google Reviews

 
I wrote this summer about getting more Google reviews. It doesn’t have to be complicated, in fact it can be incredibly simple. No matter what anyone tells you, “Google” is the final word in valuable reviews. Period. The end.
Google reviews play heavily into your placement in local listings (like the infamous “3 pack”) on Google search results. They’re the single best way to increase your influence in a market.
The challenge comes, though, in getting them. Customers have to have a Google account in order to leave a review there. BUT Google accounts are becoming more and more common nowadays, so the window is opening.
Here are 3 simple steps to getting Google Reviews that will help your business.

Step 1: Get Your Link

After you have a Google My Business listing, all you need to do to get your link for customers to leave reviews is this:
  1. Go to Google.com yourself and type in your company name.
  2. Click the “Write a Review” button on your business listing.
  3. When the review box comes up, highlight the URL in the address bar.
  4. Press “Ctrl+C” to copy it.
After you’ve done this, I’d advise pasting it into a word document or an e-mail to yourself so you can save it and keep for later.

Step 2: Write An E-mail

Now, before you start sweating thinking this will need a lot of work, DON’T. The review request e-mail you send, can be super short. Like, less than 10 words. I’d also recommend copying this into a word document (possibly the same one you used for the review URL above), so you can copy and paste it into individual e-mails.
Shelly Browne from All-Star Chem-Dry in Kennesaw, GA has had great success by using this tactic in a follow-up e-mail that’s closer to a simple “Thank You” note. This is literally all it is:
[Customer’s First Name],
Thanks for letting us serve you! Please give us a review! (Underlined portion is programmed with the review link.)
Shelly Browne
All-Star Chem-Dry
[Phone Number]
[Street address]
[City, State, Zip]
That’s it!
Short. Simple. To the point. In the past year, she’s added nearly 40 Google reviews only by e-mailing customers after they’ve had their carpet cleaned.

Step 3: Send!

Take 10 minutes at the end of every day and send the e-mail you wrote to every customer you serviced that day. That few minutes every day can help you to climb your local rankings and ensure your customers are satisfied.
If it was the difference between booking them again 9 months down the road and having to find a new customer, would you do it? Of course!

Level 2 Tips:

Facebook

If you’re so inclined and feel comfortable doing it, you may want to add some other review site options into the e-mail. For instance, consider using your company Facebook page.
After Google, I’d rank Facebook as the #2 place to get reviews. Why? Because EVERYBODY and their dog has a Facebook account, and it’s incredibly easy to leave a review there. Facebook is also making big strides into online commerce, so their algorithms will soon be optimized to show more prevalent than many other online venues.
Filter Your E-Mails

Instead of e-mailing everyone in your database at the end of the day, you may consider sending Google review requests only to customers who use a “@gmail.com” domain name. That way, you know they have a Google account and should be able to leave a review quickly.

Big Takeaway:

You have customers who are ready and waiting to give you a Google review. You just need to ask them!
  1. Get Your link.
  2. Write your e-mail.
  3. Send it.
It’s that easy. Take control of your business’ reputation today and establish a better future for your business. Then register to receive updates about future webinars on digital marketing.
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Getting More Google Reviews

Just when we think we’ve figured them out, Google goes and changes everything. Well, maybe not EVERYTHING, but it sure feels that way.
What’s Changed?
A while back, Google made a change to the way your Google Business (aka “Google My Business”, aka “Google Plus”, aka “Google Places, aka “Google My Cat”) page could receive reviews. It used to be that they required people with a Google account to go to your company’s page and click through 2 or 3 pages to see your reviews, then click “Write a Review” in order to start the process. Well, that’s changed.
A lot.
It’s All About the Search

It appears that Google is trying to make people spend more time on their search results page (which makes them money). The best way for people to leave a review on your Google page is actually to find you through search, meaning they have to go to google.com and search “Scott’s Chem-Dry” for instance. Doing so will bring up my business listing on the right side of the screen. On that listing, you’ll see a button that says “Write a Review”. Clicking it will bring up a screen that looks like this:
I can then write a review in for the company (as long as I’m logged into my Google account, which most people would be).
But Wait! There’s MORE!
That’s kind of a pain, isn’t it? What if your customer misspells the name of your company? What if they just type in “Chem-Dry” and accidentally leave a review for another franchise?
In our society of short attention spans, we essentially have to make everything quick and fail-proof for our customers. Well, there’s a solution for that.
Right now your customers would need to:
1) Go to Google.com
2) Type in the name of your business with correct spelling (sounds easier than it is)
3) Click on “Write a Review”
3.5) Sign into their Google account (if they’re not already)
4) Write the review
5) Submit the review
Here’s what I’d do.
1) Go to Google.com yourself and type in your company name.
2) Click the “Write a Review” button on your business listing.
3) When the review box comes up, highlight the URL in the address bar.
4) Press “Ctrl+C” to copy it.
You now have a link that anyone can use to bring up the “Write a Review” page. What can you do with a link like that? All kinds of stuff!
Where To Put It
Email:
Using your email database that you’ve worked so hard to develop, you can sort out customers with a gmail.com address (because you KNOW they have a Google account) and send them a request to leave you a review.
Review Trackers:

If you are a ChemDry.com Local Search Directory Premium subscriber, you automatically get access to Review Trackers (click here to watch a webinar about it). The Review Trackers system will automatically request reviews, and show people where to publish it when they give you a good one.Program this link into the emails they receive so they know right where to go.
QR Codes:

Remember these things? Yeah, those silly-looking codes you can scan with a smart phone and have it take you to a web-page? If you’re reading this on a computer, scan that code with your phone. See where it takes you. I dare you.

Really, though, these are great tools to use on leave-behind cards. Say you leave a job from a customer’s house when they’re not home. You should have a card that you can leave behind inviting them to leave you a fantastic review because you did such a fantastic job! You just made it easy for them!

Big Takeaway:
The biggest obstacles business owners face is the number of steps it takes to get them. Do whatever you can to eliminate as many steps as you can. And then offer an incentive of some sort ($20 off their next cleaning, for instance).
Here are you steps for this week:
  1. Make sure your Google Business listing is up (click here if you need help).
  2. Google your business name. Click the “Write a Review” button and copy the address (and resist the urge to leave yourself a review. Google sees through that).
  3. Sign up for August’s email webinars where we’ll use that link to send to past customers and request reviews.Click here to get notifications for upcoming webinars.

 

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Changes – Part II

Last week, you read an email from me that may or may not have rocked your world. It seems every time Big Bad Google makes a change of any sort, the internet let’s off a huge *gasp*. Well, make sure you’re sitting down for this one.

sidebar-elimination-example.sm_Last week, I showed you this picture on the right and told you about how the new search results page would be changing by dropping the sidebar ads, making it ever more important that you aim for the top three spots in ad rankings. If you missed that post, you can find it here.
While what I said is still true, I’d like to add something to it. Look just below the ads where you see the map and all the little red dots. Yep, the Google Map listings.

 

Put Me On The Map
I’ve had a lot of people ask me how to show up in the Google Map listings, and I discuss that more in-depth here. The answer is to get more Google reviews. They’re the crème dela crème of online reviews. They literally are the most valuable reviews you will ever get, but they’re the hardest to get. But, why?
The short answer is that Google doesn’t necessarily make it easy for any John Doe to go and leave a review. You have to have a Google account. In other words, Google has to know who you are.
But wouldn’t it be great if you had a tool that would help you reach out to your customers and request those super-valuable reviews? Believe it or not, the magical solution is to get a Local Search Directory Listing. No, I’m not kidding.
How Does Local Search Directory Get Me Reviews?
Well, the honest answer is that it doesn’t do it automatically, but it gives you the tools to do it. When you subscribe to a Local Search DirectoryPremium listing, you automatically get the Review Trackers service (usually a $50/mo cost) for FREE!
RT-logo-lg
Review Trackers is a dynamic program that lets you automatically send your customers an email right after you’ve worked in their homes. In the email will be an invitation to give you a private review on a scale of 1-5 stars. If they respond with a 4-5 star review, you get the update and they get an automatic response thanking them for the great review. They’ll also be asked to share their review on your Google Plus, Yelp and other accounts that are linked in the email.
If, for whatever reason, they decide that you deserve a 0-3 star review, you get an update and you’re encouraged to call them backimmediately to offer to fix whatever problems they had and help them turn that poor review into a 5-star.
AND, guess what happens when you get a review posted to those sites? Because your Local Search page is linked to your Yelp and Google Plus pages, they automatically update to your Local Search page and help you stand out as the awesome franchise that you are!
What Now?
So, what do you need to do to take advantage of such a breakthrough?
  1. Get a Local Search Premium subscription. Call Web Marketing Services for more information.
  2. Get the links for your Yelp and Google+ pages so they can be linked on your Local Search page.
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What’s a Review Worth?

In my daily interactions with franchise owners, one of the most common questions I get is: “What can I personally do to improve my franchise’s SEO standings?”

Well, it’s pretty easy, actually. The answer is getting online reviews. Particularly Google reviews.

Think about the logic for a moment. What do you think most people type into Google search when they’re looking for a carpet cleaner in your area? Usually some variation of “carpet cleaning (insert city, state)”. So it makes logical sense that if your franchise is well-recognized in your area as a good carpet cleaner, you have a good chance of showing up in Google search just based on your reviews.

google maps reviews

Click on the picture above. You see the three listings at the top? Now, all of us know that the only reason they’re out-ranking the Chem-Dry listing is because they’ve got more reviews (they’re obviously not better). Google’s algorithm is designed such that it gives preference to listings that are deemed more “legitimate” because of the reviews.

Now, the great thing about Google reviews is that they play a much stronger role in your SEO rankings than other review sites (such as Yelp.com, YP.com, etc.). They’re also fairly accessible. For instance, can you imagine how many more people have a Google account as compared to a Yelp account? No contest.

I’m not saying that Yelp and YP.com aren’t good places to get reviews. They are, but they have limitations on “weight” when it comes to how much they influence your ranking in search results. Millions of consumers use sites like these to get “shop around” for service providers. Other sources may be Angie’s List, Customer Lobby, Thumbtack (though it’s a little different), Screaming Tree, and LOADS of others. It’s definitely useful to have listings with these websites and directories, but none of them have the clout that Google does for advancing your ranking.

So what do you need to do?

First, set up a Google business page.

Second, make sure that your website has a proper link to your Google business page. (It’s easy to do from your Gateway. Click on “Webmaster.” Go to “Custom Settings”, select the website you want to add to, scroll down and expand the “Social Media” section. In the field under “Google Plus Listing” paste in the URL for your page. Click “Submit” down at the bottom and the change will go into effect with the next update cycle – within 24 hours.)

Third, request reviews. You can do that in a couple ways.

  1. E-mail the customer (assuming you’ve collected their email address like you should) thanking them for the opportunity to come and clean their home. Include a link to your Google page and request they take a moment to leave a review.
  2. As you’re packing up after a job, have your customer access your Google page (either through your website, or by looking you up on Google), and have them leave you a review on their mobile device*.
  3. Use Review Tracker from onTrack (coming soon!).
  4. Get creative. However you can convince people to go to your Google page and get a review from them will improve your chances of showing up in the next search.

*The advantage to having them leave a review from a mobile device is that they’re likely already logged into their Google account. AND, since it’s on a mobile device, Google recognizes that as a review that’s more likely to be “real.” Plus, it triangulates their location so that when someone nearby looks up carpet cleaning, you’re more likely to show up.

When you get your company listed and good reviews coming in (because, let’s face it, you’re all going to get 5-star reviews, right?), you’ll soon find Chem-Dry DOMINATING your territory and leaving those “other guys” in the dust.