During our third year of marriage, Zach’s parents bought us a gift certificate to their favorite Cincinnati boutique hotel so we could have a weekend getaway.
We had a great time checking out breweries, restaurants, and art galleries, and right before we left the city, we both got a serious craving for Mexican food. So, we pulled out our phones to see what was nearby.
We discovered there was a Mexican restaurant a block away from us, but it only had 2.5 stars (not exactly the star count you’re looking for on vacation). The reviews were questionable, so we kept looking and found another Mexican restaurant 10 minutes away with 4.5 stars and glowing reviews. We hopped in the car, headed to Taqueria Mercado, and ate our weight in chips, salsa, and enchiladas.
Now, I could talk about Mexican food for hours, but I’m sharing this story for a reason: to show you that online reviews matter for your business.
In our situation, the restaurants’ reviews definitely affected our purchasing decision, but online reviews have more benefits for your business than this alone. So, today, I want to talk about why online reviews matter for photographers and creative entrepreneurs and how they can help your business grow!
Believe it or not, in a world full of email marketing and targeted social media ads, word of mouth is still the most powerful form of advertising! In fact, 92% of people say they trust word of mouth and social proof more than any other marketing tactic.
That said, I have good news for you, friend! According to marketing experts, you can think of online reviews and word of mouth as one in the same, because 88% of consumers say that they “trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.”
If you’re serving your clients well (which I’m sure you are), collecting reviews can be the easiest, the most affordable, and a highly effective way to get more inquiries and grow your business!
Just like when we were looking for a Mexican restaurant, 90% of consumers check out online reviews before visiting or contacting a business. So, you need reviews if you want prospective clients to even call or email you!
Now, you obviously want as many positive reviews as possible (92% of people feel comfortable supporting small businesses with four or more stars.), and as long as you’re serving your clients well and delivering on your promises, this shouldn’t be an issue. That said, not having any reviews can be just as—if not more—dangerous than having negative reviews.
Considering most people read online reviews before visiting or contacting a small business, if you don’t have reviews, there’s a good chance you will lose to your competitors with reviews every time. I mean, think about it. If you were looking for a Mexican restaurant, where are you going to go: to the restaurant with great reviews or the restaurant without any?
If you want prospective customers to inquire, you need to have online reviews!
While online reviews’ biggest benefit and clear purpose is to help consumers decide if they can trust your business, online reviews can help your business in other ways that aren’t quite as obvious.
For example, having online reviews can boost your search engine rankings. When a customer leaves you a review, Google recognizes that your business is active and taking customers. To best serve Google users, Google will likely move your website listing up on search engine results pages (SERPs) because Google recognizes that your business is the answer to people’s needs.
I don’t want to dive too deep into SEO now (Trying to keep this blog post short for you!), but you can learn more about SEO and why it matters here!
Ever wonder how businesses get featured in Google’s “Local Search” section (the section with the map above the other search results)? Well, these businesses are nearby, active, and trusted.
Because Google’s goal is to serve users by providing the best and most helpful information possible, Google doesn’t simply list nearby businesses in the “Local Search” section; Google lists businesses that the search engine believes are relevant and helpful to Google users. So, Google only includes businesses in the “Local Search” section that are clearly active and may be the answer a searcher is looking for.
Online reviews are a great way to show Google that your business is active. And, it’s big win for your business to be listed in the “Local Search” section because the higher your business is listed on an SERP, the more likely users are to click on your website. Since Google’s “Local Search” section is the very first thing (after ads) to appear on an SERP, having your website appear in this section drastically increases the chances of a user clicking on your website!
So, why do online reviews matter for photographers and creative entrepreneurs? Like I said before, online reviews can be the most affordable and effective way to receive more inquiries and grow your business. So, if you aren’t already, ask your clients to leave you reviews!
After you’ve served your clients’ socks off, send them a short email thanking them for their business and asking them to leave you a review on Google, Facebook, Yelp and/or any other review site that makes sense for your business (like The Knot if you’re a wedding photographer).
Don’t wait to to do this. Today, I want you to think of a client you’ve served recently who was really happy with your work. Send this client an email and ask him or her to leave you a review!
I can’t wait to see all the wonderful things your clients have to say about you online, friend!