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Referrals/Networking / Marketing & Advertising
February 2014 Single Truck Success

The Power of Social Review Sites

Tap into these resources to get more referrals.

February 03, 2014
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A batch of positive reviews is the key component in succeeding with social review sites such as Angie’s List and Yelp.

Millions of consumers turn to these sites for help in choosing service companies. They value confirmation from others to help make better decisions on where to spend their money.

Companies with more positive reviews win the lion’s share of these customers. Because they generally receive a higher ranking on the organic search results within these sites, their odds of being seen by shoppers increase.

Since the point of these sites is to provide social confirmation, the businesses that have a lot of positive reviews are going to be perceived as more desirable.

These review sites offer additional opportunities to advertise in order to increase visibility to review-reading shoppers. Companies with more good reviews get the best value from these options, whereas companies with fewer reviews will be ignored by shoppers, thus getting poor returns for their advertising investment.

If you are new to this type of social media marketing, how can you get enough reviews to become competitive in this form of marketing? Is there a way to quickly boost your number of positive reviews?

Buy into the system

The more you learn about this marketing opportunity, the better the results you will have.

My first piece of advice is to join both Angie’s List and Yelp as a consumer. It is important to understand how the game is played from a consumer’s perspective. Besides, how can you ask customers to write a review if you have never done it yourself? Once you have written reviews on other companies, you will feel how empowering it is and how much effort is involved.

Though Yelp is a free service, Angie’s List charges a membership fee. Only Angie’s List members are allowed to see reviews of other local companies. In order to see how you compare to other service companies, you will need to become a paid member.

Use the social tools

Angie’s List and Yelp are social sites. Their success depends on expanding their influence. They are motivated to help you grow your network. Let them assist in increasing your involvement.

Angie’s List offers a powerful, free tool called Fetch. If you provide the site with your client list, it will determine if there are current Angie’s List members on it. Then it will approach those members requesting reviews for your company. It is very persistent at this task. You can continue to submit updated client lists every 90 days.

Yelp helps you, as a consumer, find its members from among your social networks. You can allow Yelp to search your Gmail, Yahoo and Facebook accounts to find friends who are members and make requests to become a Yelp friend. Once you establish your list of Yelp friends, you can now determine if it is appropriate to request a review from any of them.

Yelp also provides a search option for specific names and e-mail addresses. This enables you to see if a customer is a Yelp member before you work for them. This allows you to know whether or not to bring up the topic of writing a Yelp review.

Not all reviewers are seen as equal on Yelp. It is not productive to request reviews from non-Yelp members because they have no review history. If you are the first and only company a customer has reviewed, Yelp may filter this review out as a scam on the system.

Special offers

One of the fastest ways to accumulate Angie’s List reviews is to use their Big Deals advertising. Members are e-mailed highly discounted offers for services. Members can purchase these coupons for which Angie’s List will keep a percentage of the sale price. These generally are not very profitable jobs for service companies. However, they do potentially provide new, quality customers whom Angie’s List will in turn encourage to write reviews about your business.

Yelp provides the opportunity for you to offer attractively discounted, pre-paid vouchers and gift certificates to its users. Yelp keeps its percentage of the sale, but in exchange your company will get additional visibility which will hopefully result in new customers. Consumers who purchase through Yelp are more likely to write reviews.

If you use these advertising options, remember that your primary objective is to impress customers in hopes of winning positive reviews. Don’t let the thought of not making good profit on these jobs lower the service level you offer.

Promote Angie’s List and Yelp

Take full advantage of promotional tools provided by these review sites.

Use their decals and logos on your website, vehicles and printed materials to proudly display your connection with these sites. Create a page on your website that leads customers directly to your company’s review pages on these social websites.

Requesting reviews

Consumers who use these websites are naturally open to writing reviews.

Following a job, casually inquire if your customer regularly uses these review sites. If so, let them know that you appreciate reviews.

Do not attempt to reward customers for writing you a review. Attempting to bribe customers is not the image you want to present. Trust that they will cooperate freely.

Adjust the business settings for your Angie’s List and Yelp accounts to notify you when new reviews are posted. It is courteous to send a private message through the review site to thank customers for sharing their experience of your company. 

Quantity and quality are the secret

The more positive reviews you receive increases the likelihood of consumers seeing and choosing your company. If there are enough positive reviews, an occasional poor review will have little negative effect. It is worth the effort to learn how to encourage reviews.

Review sites such as Angie’s List and Yelp are growing in their influence. Learning how to use them to your advantage can create a significant and profitable source of quality customers.

Steve Marsh is the creator of the Be Competition Free Marketing Program. He is a 30-year veteran of the carpet cleaning industry, an IICRC-approved instructor and a Senior Carpet Inspector. Marsh is a marketing and business consultant who provides a turn-key program for attracting better customers. For more information, log on to www.BeCompetitionFree.com.

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