What makes a client decide that yours is the firm for them? Research shows that nowadays personal recommendation is by far and away the biggest influencer. BD and marketing departments still have their place, but positive comments from existing clients are, increasingly, what it is all about. People are losing faith in claims made in online marketing or advertising and would much rather have a recommendation from friends or family.
The good news, according to a BrightLocal survey, is that 85% of customers now consider online customer reviews to be effectively the same thing as a friend’s recommendation. People place overwhelmingly greater trust in such reviews than in anything else. A massive 73% of people surveyed have immediately greater trust in businesses with positive reviews, and 57% visit a company’s website after reading them.
So… if we’re trying to find ways to drive traffic to your website and to get instruction off the back of it, starting with the clients you already have (and encouraging them to write reviews) is going to make you 73% more trusted and 57% more likely to get website traffic than a firm without reviews.
Using reviews to generate website traffic
Happy clients can write good reviews. 74% of people surveyed by BrightLocal had been asked recently to provide a review. A huge 68% had been happy to do so. The results are a clear indication that there is no need to feel awkward about asking a client to tell everyone how good you are.
So, let’s be a bit challenging. Let’s start by assuming that you already provide a space on your own website where clients can leave reviews. This, we now know, will be viewed by potential new clients and should (assuming that the content is up-to-date, relevant and lacking in unnecessarily negative comment) confirm to people that they are in the right place and you’re absolutely wonderful.
But how do you make sure people hear all the good things being said about you wherever they’re researching and then use this to generate website traffic or enquiries? There are loads of places people can, technically, leave reviews, but keeping on top of them all (and hear us when we say that ‘curation’ is important when it comes to having public third-party reviews) can be impossible. That’s why we think you should focus on two key tools:
- Social media: Facebook and LinkedIn. If you or your firm does not already have a page on these platforms then you need to get yourself out of the Dark Ages as quickly as possible. You can tell yourself that your clients aren’t on social media but this is where people go to talk to friends and those they respect. This is where requests for recommendations are answered. This is where reviews get published. And this is where you can use direct links through to case studies and other examples of how brilliant you are to demonstrate expertise (rather than just shout about it). Setting up a presence is quick and easy, and there is abundant help online if you’re struggling. In all social media matters the crucial thing is to have someone monitoring incoming messages and, where necessary, responding, at all times.
- Google. This is not just the world’s biggest search engine, where potential customers might find you if they’re searching for information, it also supports Google Maps. By making sure each of your offices is correctly located you can put a physical presence alongside any reviews people might leave. Customers needing to find you will value this very highly. Google is also in partnership with the invaluable HubSpot, and this permits people to leave reviews that appear in the search results for your business, so investing some time and effort here has the potential to be more than worthwhile.
Social media and Google are not one-way traffic.
It’s easy to think of social media reviews as one-way traffic but the real success lies in viewing it as a two-way street. Let me explain.
Yes, you want to drive traffic to your website and enquiries. So, yes, you want to generate reviews on platforms external to your website, with a link through. But showing, on your website, that you want people to leave reviews (be that on Google, Facebook or wherever) will not only win you brownie points with people but also with the search engines. That’s why you should think carefully about the ways you record and integrate reviews in your website, and encourage people to go outside of your website to give them.
Be sure to integrate badges in end of matter emails or footers directing people to your Facebook page, for example, as well as considering embedding the reviews written on Facebook within your website.
And it goes as read that your website should be optimized for smartphones and tablets so that if a client finds you whilst browsing on their phone screen, away from the computer on their desk, they see a version of all of this that works on their device.
If you’re asking for customer reviews you need to follow a few basic rules to get the results you want.
First, yes. Ask for them. Don’t expect them to happen. If you’ve done a good job make it a standard request… but be clever about it.
- If you are engaging via email, keep the request short and to the point, and don’t start with a direct request for a review. It will be better if the process is a dialogue – e.g. you might try ‘How did you find our service?’ as an opener – because you may pick up some valuable feedback along the way in addition to a review, and you will also get a feel for which clients are going to provide what you need.
- Picking the right time to ask is vital. When your client has just won their case, when a legal process has just been concluded satisfactorily and you are sending an end of matter letter, when a client has just tagged you or your firm on social media in a complimentary post, when a client has just referred a new contact to you – all of these might be considered optimum moments to ask the client, if they have not already done so, whether they would be willing to provide a review. Above all, there is little point asking for a review from a client who still feels that there are unresolved matters outstanding, and the dialogue may alert you to such matters for the first time
- When asking by email be sure to include a link that takes the client quickly and easily to the place where they can leave their review. For Facebook reviews, consider sending the request via Messenger.
Now for a difficult one – what to do about a bad review?
These are a fact of life. Actually, studies show that dissatisfied customers are three times more likely to leave a negative review than satisfied ones are to leave a positive one. In many cases these will appear on third-party sites, where people feel somewhat freer to share negative opinion than they would on your own website. So that means this is likely to be a bigger problem if you are being brave and encouraging reviews on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google.
No matter where it is written each review should get a response. As difficult as it might be in some circumstances, it is important always to remember that a polite and professional response, thanking the reviewer for their comments, will be read by many more people than just the one who left the complaint. Showing a compassionate and engaged professionalism here can win you respect and, potentially, may be the very thing that encourages a prospective client to give you a try.
Do share and highlight positive reviews from your customers, wherever possible marking them as ‘useful’ or whatever the equivalent may be. This pushes the reviews further up the list and makes them more visible, and needs to be done reasonably frequently to ensure that you always have the best of your most recent reviews in prime position.
Sharing on social media is always a good plan as is reformatting positive reviews as quotes to share on Instagram if you have an account there… yea… we know… we just slipped another social media platform in there for you to manage…
Finally, never underestimate the personal touch. Accepting that this may not be possible in all circumstances, if you have an important client who brings you a lot of business and who may be influential in finding potential new clients, there is a lot of potential mileage in taking them to lunch and having a well-directed conversation in a more social environment.