Most business owners struggle to ask for kudos from their customers after a transaction. The top reasons for this are usually fear of getting a bad review, they are too cumbersome to manage or they are not grasping how to administer the process. Today I’ll dive into the methods I use every day to gather reviews on Google and other sites.
First let’s talk about the importance of using Google as your primary review service. Most internet searches are on Google. So it goes without saying that having a heap of rosy reviews on Google is going to help boost your rankings. Even with my well honed process for gathering reviews, less than 1% of my customers will do this for me. So that’s why you have to ask every single customer to help you out.
Since I started collecting review on Google, I’ve noticed that the quality of my leads has increased dramatically. In the past year I’ve had a lot more success selling to brands like KLM/Air France and even Oprah Winfrey’s Dog. It’s also helped other small business owners and non-profits feel comfortable giving us a chance at their business.
Sure, Facebook is valid and you’ll actually see those reviews posted next your Google reviews in searches. It all depends on your business. For me, my customer do not hang out on Facebook. So it’s REALLY hard to get those reviews for me. But if you are a people-to-people business on Facebook, it’s important to push people to review you in both places.
Create a referral link by searching for our business name on Google Places. You’ll see a “place ID” that you can copy and past into this link https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=ChIJg50h1T9mgFMR7t1ac6Sis0A (change out the biz id for your business)
Add this link with a strong “Call To Action” in an outgoing email. Impress upon people you are a small business and reviews are important.There are two ways to create a link.
A text link. “Dear Wonderful Customer, Please take a second and review us here. ”
Or you buttons or even an animated gif! I automate this process so that every customer gets an email within 5 days of getting their product. You can set up something like this for free in Mailchimp and create an automated email that you simply add names too. It all depends on how your email marketing is setup.
If you are struggling to set this up, message me an email and I can create your link for you free of charge! I can also set up the automation in Mailchimp or another service for you.
When I engage with new clients they always start the conversation with “I need more website traffic”.
This request occurs typically before they have even seen their website metrics. Sure, traffic is a great place to start for most small business. In my experience most people I’m working with at the start, get less than 200 visitors a month.
What I’d like you to think about today is this: Traffic is meaningless unless it creates customers. So you could hire one of those un-relenting f***ing Google Ads telemarketers or respond to those “get marketing student help for $10/hr” to change your business. Knock yourself out. You’d be better off using five dollar bills as kindling for your fireplace.
Why would you hire someone that knows NOTHING about you or your business to market your company? Have any of these people actually run an online business? Or did they take a 20 hour online course?
What you need is a comprehensive strategy that allows you to micro focus on:
who your customers are
how the behave
how to solve their problems
the user experience on your website (clear calls to actions, good navigation)
blogging, blogging, blogging
email capture and newsletters
obtaining customer reviews on google and other platforms
In other words, there is no “get rich quick” formula here. The formula is DATA DRIVEN MARKETING. In other words, stop guessing what will work and start implementing more things that are working. This list of stuff above seems overwhelming and expensive to most business owners. You need to change your thinking. The days of setting up a website and leaving it alone for 5 years are over. Successful companies create as many “channels” as possible.
You’ll be surprised to know that running an online business is not about attracting 50 inquiries a month on your website form. This game is about creating 20 inquires on your website, 5 from email, 3 from Facebook, 5 from paid search, 10 from blogging.
I personally have tried pumping money into paid search to boost sales. It simply doesn’t work if you have not dealt with the big picture: understanding your customer and offering them the solutions they are seeking.
What is Data Driven Marketing?
The beautiful thing about marketing today is the small business owners have never had more control. Here’s three things I do so that will shift your focus from “traffic” to delighting new customers.
Know Thy Competition And Steal Ideas From Them
You can compete with almost any sized company if you want. Do you know who my biggest competitor is? http://www.4imprint.ca
This company is publicly traded and operates in three countries. Their paid search budget for one day probably exceeds my marketing budget for the year. They are the biggest company in the world that sells promotional products. Guess what? If I was able to attract %0.001 of their traffic, I could retire in Tahiti tomorrow.
I spend hours looking at their U/X (website design), I sign up for their newsletters, I see what products they feature on the home page. I analyze and update my page meta descriptions based on their meta descriptions for the same products. I use special software to see what keywords they bid on when using paid search.
One thing I have noticed is for custom lapel pins, they do not focus on the same user experience that I do. I feature the things on my site that are different from 4imprint. I focus on promoting the fact we are a family business with nearly 50 years in business. I reduce the clutter and hype on my website so that I look completely different. I do the same thing with my pin and medal competitors. In fact I have a list of them I monitor and track and see how I’m faring against them. I do the same for your business and let you focus on the things you actually want to do.
Once you have searched out your biggest online competitors, you can figure out how to outflank them online. Snooping on the competitions is an ongoing process that I personally do almost every week.
2. Start learning about the stats now. It will make sense in a five years.
Most people start looking for SEO’s to increase traffic. It’s the most marketed and visible service for business owners. The response rate is high to these types of services because most business owners would rather chop off a finger than have to deal with this stuff. That was me once. I was the ostrich.
“Hello Mr. SEO. Here’s $500 a month to help you get more traffic. Chances are I won’t hear from you again for a month, Nor will I understand what you are saying when we talk….but I’m hopeful you’ll create results. Do you take Visa?”.
How are you supposed to hire people if you have NO IDEA WHAT THEY ARE DOING? I’ve blindly trusted a number of SEO’s only to discover they are focusing on search terms and metrics that are not right for my business.
Their intention was to prop up my traffic stats showing huge increases so that their monthly retainer keeps rolling. There was little or no focus on how to create sales from my traffic. I have yet to hire someone who has created actual sales. So if you are thinking of hiring someone, let me review their proposal for you and I’ll give it the sniff test.
You don’t have to do a deep dive into this stuff but do get up to speed with a few terms to help you guide your efforts. Get familiar with the following concepts to avoid the same mistakes I made:
traffic sources such as organic search, referrals from social or people who type in your url directly
Keep in mind that most sites see 80% of their traffic land on the home page. But that leaves 20% of those visitors landing on your product page, about us page or blog post. Once you start grasping the nuts and bolts of what drives traffic and business and SALES, you can hire contractors with confidence. Spend six months and read an article or two every week about online marketing. I highly recommend these places:
Inbound marketing at it’s cornerstone dictates that we use data to help us “attract, convert and delight” customers. You can’t delight customers if you set up a new web page and 90% of your visitors are leaving within 10 seconds. That’s a very high “bounce rate”.
I relaunched my website in October 2018. I’d spent 2 years mapping out template ideas, finding a company to build them and most importantly, learning Inbound Marketing. Before launching I did a comprehensive keyword study and then aligned my blog topics with those searches. News Flash: blogging is 80% for google and 20% for people.
Focus on writing keyword focused blog posts that create search traffic. These people are about 200% more likely to buy from you than your Aunt Jean. The point here is that if you attract two people a month to a well written blog post who convert, that’s preferable to having 1000 people who visit the post and leave. Once you know your customers and your competition, you can write better content.
Now on to the kicker. Check out this graph. It shows that I had 14% less traffic this month but look at the numbers! We set a company record for the number of new contacts. We also broke a record for the number of new customers. Back in the “bad old days” of hiring SEO’s, they were getting me 2500-5000 sessions a month and less than five actual customers a YEAR. So this all circles back to it’s not about the quantity, it’s about the quantity.
It took me four challenging overhauls in the past six months of all my landing pages, my blog and my site structure to start converting customers in high numbers.
Six months ago I was getting 10 inquires a month with more traffic.
I hope the take-away from this article is that most business owners want the wrong thing when seeking outside help for their business. If you don’t have a good foundation for growth, you can have 10,000 visitors a month who don’t buy one thing and do permanent damage to your rankings in the process. Why? If google sees a site with a high bounce rate, you won’t get many search engine results.
Once I started focusing on user experience, getting reviews and writing articles that get a lot of traffic and shares, things really shifted.
Instagram is quite intimidating to business owners. It has a reputation as a time-waster, a distraction or “not worth my time”. I’m here to say: you could not be more wrong!
In the past six months I’ve seen a massive shift in my own businesses fortunes because of Instagram. I’ve previously talked about how much I love the micro-targetingthat you can get with this platform.
Today my account hit 800 followers which is a pretty huge milestone considering I had zero followers six months ago.
There are three reasons I was able to achieve this:
I got committed to mastering the platform and dedicated about 15-30 minutes a day in my account. When I’m on Instagram I do two things. Follow back the people who liked my content and make authentic comments on other peoples posts I connect with.
I started using HopperHQ to automate my efforts. I work on social on Mondays and try to schedule for a week or two in advance. If I don’t have new content, I recycle and sometimes, I’ll change up the hashtags. The other thing Hopper does is SUGGEST hashtags. This feature alone is worth the $19 a month. The reason is that it shows you how many people follow any given hashtag. Why post to an audience of 200, when you can post to an audince of 250,000! This has also allowed me to create new audiences. For example, I do a lot of medals for Beach Ultimate Frisbee. I started tagging #beachvolleyball and got a heap of followers.
I stopped being afraid to post too much. Neil Patel says to post every 3 hours! Yikes! Great advice for huge accounts. But for accounts with less than 500 follower, it may be too much. Watch Neil Patel’s Video.
Take a moment to watch my screencast that shows you about the scheduling and hashtag suggestion tools.
3rd Party Apps Allow For Multiple Selling LInks In your IG Profile
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Instagram is quickly becoming “my jam”. The more I use this platform, the more I love the ability to micro target an audience.
Here’s the dealio. If people like your images, they follow you and like your images.
If you have strong calls to action in your posts, you’ll get people checking your URL. Then you can convert interest into inquiries and customers.
Currently Instagram only allows you to insert ONE url into your bio. Most people send visitors to their top level page. I personally change this often and send people to my blog, a quote page, a product page etc.
For an ecommerce company like mine, we sell lots of items. Even though my IG channel is all about enamel pins, cross selling can be a done. The same people who buy enamel pins might buy a lanyard or a keychain or a coffee mug.
If you use a product like Shorby, you can add a heap of links to your profile. I get a LOT of business this way. You get stats on what people like the most so you can add and subtract more links and keep testing!
I can change my profiles focus on a dime. Today I switched from courting enamel pin designers, to band merchandise. Touring season is coming up. We just did pins for the Junos and those posts did really well on Instagram. Doing pins for the Junos carries a lot of street cred with bands. Winning!
MICRO TARGETING YOUR AUDIENCE USING INSTAGRAM
Here’s a micro targeting tip. I put up a post about band pins this week. It went crazy. And it’s a really nice looking post if I don’t say so myself. What this taught me is that hashtag #bandmerch and other #canadianmusic hashtags liked this post. Furthermore the band replied back to my post about the pins being better than they anticipated. A testimonial on my post, that is just pure marketing gold! I’m hitting the BOOST button! Blamo! A new market is born.
Also note how I’m plugging the bands album release first and soft selling my company. My thinking is more struggling bands could probably use the publicity in the event they buy pins from us. I’ll let you know how the boost goes….
COMING UP WITH HASHTAGS
When I first started Instagramming, I was kinda overwhelmed at how many tags one must add to your post. And then I found a product call Hopper HQ. Not only does it automate your instagram, twitter or facebook it tells you how many people are using any given hashtag. This is where the power of this platform and tool come together! It sure is handy to know that 642,000 people are watching the #bandmerch hashtag!
Hopper HQ also has an analytics section that shows you how you are doing. Last month I added almost 400 new followers using this tool.
These promo’s work a LOT better if you push people to buy something in a shopping cart with a coupon code. My company does custom work so it’s tricky to do that. But sometimes I just try out wacky stuff to see how it “sticks”.
There are ways to sell product directly off your Facebook page and I’ll get into that in another post.
I’m new to the #bandmerch scene so before I invest a bunch of time and effort into creating a sales funnel for these people, let’s see how my post does. The “best practice” scenario would involve a landing page for bands with samples of our band work and a few testimonials.
Using a heatmap can be an incredibly valuable tool for making U/X decisions. (U/X= user experience) You can test out multiple page layouts and tweak image sizes, product layout and more. You can even tell what menus people click on more than others. Check this out! Most of these users want to cut to the chase and get a quote. I must be doing something right! Hint: Since I launched this page in October 2018, I’ve re-done it 3x.
Two months ago, my home page had a high bounce rate. [that’s when people arrive and leave before 10s] I ran some heatmap tests and saw my product carousel wasn’t enticing people to click. The button was too far down the page.
Two weeks ago, I set up a more visual, block style product showcase instead. My bounce rate was 85%. It’s now 58%!
This recent heat map shows me people are moving through the site the way I want them too. I keep these tests running all the time and optimize my pages often.