A long time ago, in a land far, far away from the Internet, small businesses relied on word-of-mouth referrals for new customers. A positive referral from a trusted family member or friend meant everything. Beyond that, there wasn't much else that a consumer could use to research the reputation of the business.
Now, in the age of the Internet Generation, reviews from random strangers online have almost replaced the word-of-mouth referral from a trusted friend. Why? A collection of real, unbiased reviews can paint a more accurate image of a business and provide consumers clarity into a business that a single, anecdotal recommendation cannot. If your digital marketing strategy doesn't include building and managing your online reviews, you will be losing new customers.
Why do online reviews matter?
The simple answer: TRUST. The Internet has given consumers the world's information at their fingertips. On the Internet superhighway, consumers look to learn as much information as possible before picking up the phone or getting in their car. They are trying to determine the trustworthiness of your business from your online presence.
So, if your webpage is outdated with no information, or you have zero reviews on your social media, or there's no face to the business, it's almost impossible to build a trustworthy feeling about your funeral home.
How do online reviews influence consumers?
We've covered why consumers no longer trust the funeral industry, but how do online reviews affect the decision-making process? A recent study by Harvard Business School found that a one-star increase in a restaurant review can lead to a 9% increase in revenue. On top of that, 68% of consumers are willing to pay up to 15% more for the same product if they're assured they will have a better experience.
Not only do positive online reviews help you get more customers, but those same customers will spend more money if they trust you'll provide an amazing service.
How do online reviews build trust?
Online traffic is controlled by the big 3 review sites: Google, Facebook, and Yelp. Each has it's own review system that allows people to leave reviews about your business and help consumers make their decision.
Arguably the most prominent online review site, Google uses a 5-star rating that appears any time your business shows up on their web properties. Since they control the lion's share of traffic on the internet, it's vital your reputation is maintained properly.
In less than a second after my search, I'm presented with numerical rankings of the quality of service of these funeral homes. It's easy to see how important online reviews can be.
With billions of active users, Facebook has become a central hub of interaction. Businesses have the opportunity to showcase themselves to their community. In the same vein as Google, Facebook also uses a 5-star review system to help build a reputation of that business online.
Instantly, when you go to a funeral home's Facebook page, you're shown the star ranking. Facebook chooses to put a huge emphasis on reviews by placing it right below the header image.
On Facebook, your reviews are just as tied to your funeral home just as it is on Google.
Even though Yelp has become synonymous with restaurant reviews, many small businesses have seen quite a bit of traffic and growth from Yelp. Yelp's SEO is often much better than a lot of local business pages, so their profile pages can sometimes rank higher in Google's search listings. This is why it is imperative that you claim and respond to negative reviews on Yelp's platform.
How do I get online reviews?
Even if a customer has an amazing experience with your funeral home, most will not take the initiative to leave a review. Unless you have a strategy in place, you won't build a consistent, relevant brand online.
There is really no secret sauce to getting reviews - just ask. After every case, you should make it a priority to send a follow up email/text/phone call to the main point of contact asking them to leave you a review on the review site of your choice.
Thank you for allowing us to opportunity to serve your family. We hope that you were happy with our services. Would you kindly take 2 minutes to leave us a review on Google (or Yelp or Facebook)?
Incorporating a follow up routine for your cases can make the difference between growing your marketshare or going out of business.
What happens if I get a negative review?
Step one, relax. A negative review is not the end of the world. In fact, a negative review can lead to a few unique opportunities. A negative review can highlight areas that your business might need to improve on. Of course, criticisms can be hard to swallow. However, if we're not willing to learn from our mistakes or adapt to the consumers, we've already lost.
Also, a negative review allows you to respond directly to the person. Even if someone leaves a scathing review about your business, a respectful, well-thought out response can often have a large impact on the perception of your business. Your brand's response is a sign that you actually care about your customers. You also have the ability to tell your side of the story in a sympathetic manner and offer solutions in any way possible. While negative reviews are never great, they are big opportunities for growth.
Why did Parting Pro launch online review management?
At the heart of any business's online brand needs to include reviews. If you're not making a concerted effort to grow your online brand, it's going to get increasingly difficult to find new customers. This is why Parting Pro has made it simple for our partners to generate positive reviews on each of the three major platforms. Our newest feature helps you not only get positive reviews, but respond to those that might have had a negative experience.
Online reviews are changing buying habits. Building trust now starts online, and online reviews are shaping that trust. Are you doing everything you can to make sure the next family has no doubt that you are the right choice?