Nurturing a Lead is Required to Make a Sale

Times have changed.  Getting a lead is not easy and it is definitely pricier than in years past.  Nurturing the lead into an appointment is not easy either, but in the end it’s what will be required to keep your doors open.

What is a Qualified Lead?

A qualified lead is a prospect in your lead-tracking system who has expressed interest in buying your product and passes a set of lead qualifications in order to progress further down the funnel.

This does not mean that they are ready to buy today. But it does mean that they have been qualified to need your services and/or products.

What Should You do With a Lead?

You’ve launched an ad campaign and started to attract great leads. Leads captured online are typically from individuals who saw a proposal and took an action (usually a click that takes them to a landing page).  At that point they took the time to read your ad and then took the extra step to provide you with their name, phone number and email address.  These are not disinterested individuals.

Your job now is to keep those leads happy, while gently leading them through the sales cycle. If your sales cycle is a long one, the task is more complicated.  And, by the way, hearing aid sales fall into the category of having a long sales cycle.

If you aren’t getting sales from leads, there may be several reasons why:

  • Lack of lead nurturing is the most common cause.
  • Lack of persistence.  Kapture CRM reports that it can take up to 8  to reach an actual prospect.
  • Lag time. Your staff does not respond to the lead quickly enough.
  • You aren’t providing feedback to the individual handling the marketing that will allow them to refine the quality of the leads.
  • Unqualified or untrained salesperson. The person returning the calls has to understand that their role is to function as a salesperson. The staff member’s role is not to act as a just a receptionist whose sole purpose it to schedule an appointment. Give the “salesperson” the tools they’ll need to convert the lead to an appointment.  At a minimum make sure they understand the offer being promoted through the ad that attracted the lead in the first place.

Good News/Bad News

It’s important to keep in mind that 50% of qualified leads aren’t ready to buy. They might be open to education, and delighted that you can identify their pain points, but actually signing up for your solution? They’re not there yet.

So, what’s the good news?

Research studies state 80% of these people are going to buy from someone in the next 24 months. This is where lead nurturing comes into play.

Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost.

The biggest mistake you can make is to think that one contact, for example, one message left on an answering machine is all that is required to “nurture a lead”.  If you have a lead that has responded to a “call to action” by providing their contact information, they’re a qualified lead.

How Many Contacts to Make a Sale?

Some articles say 12. A few of the more optimistic ones pick 7 as their answer. Some go for a range between 10 and 15. The truth is, it takes as many contacts as it takes. If you’re lucky enough to get an impulse buyer, 1 contact may be plenty to cement the deal. If you have a cautious buyer in a bad economy, you could be looking at 20 or more contacts prior to conversion.

An often cited statistic suggests that more than 80% of conversions take place sometime after the 5th contact.  A study from Dartnell Corp investigated the number of times a prospect was called before a salesperson waved the proverbial white flag. Here is their data:

  • 48% quit after the first contact
  •  72% stop after the second contact
  • 84% give up on a prospect after the third contact
  • 90% wave the white flag after the fourth contact

As you can see, almost half of all salespeople quit after the first call. And the vast majority (90 percent) quit relatively soon after.

What Most Entrepreneurs Get Wrong

It’s all about the sale, so why do 90 percent of salespeople quit so quickly? There are many reasons, and the simplest is that they let business and life get in the way. Some get caught up in busywork because it is easier than having to follow up. Others just lack the discipline to make those follow-up calls.

The fact is that 10% of salespeople make the 5th call, and studies show that 80 percent of sales are made after that fifth sales call.

The difference between success and failure is persistence.  It’s true with most things in life including turning a lead into a sale.

What to Consider When Marketing Hearing Aids

When it comes to the marketing, advertising and sale of hearing aids, the senior market is the one that matters most. This may provoke a “duh” moment from many reading this article. However, it’s important to understand how seniors think, what turns them off and what hearing aid marketing and advertising concepts they are drawn to.

Let’s start with the term “seniors”. After the 12th grade no one ever wants to be referred to as a senior anything again…ever. Ultimately it could mean the difference between substantial business growth and the loss of a sizable chunk of market share.

Hearing Aid Marketing Do’s and Don’ts

  • Target women, they make the decisions.
  • Don’t use humor about aging. Getting old is not funny.
  • Don’t use scare tactics. Discouraging news about aging will not motivate your patient to respond to your ad or to purchase hearing aids.
  • When using photos in promotions and communications remember the following. As a group, senior citizens see themselves as seven to ten years younger than they really are. Think of it this way 50 is the new 40 and 60 is the new 50.
  • Use words in copy that hold out the promise of youthfulness and independence. Both are concepts that patients will identify with.
  • Remember your demographic (I know I’ve said that before, but it does get forgotten). Understand that just like the auditory system, the visual system changes as we age. Use larger fonts and brighter colors.
  • Trust is a major issue for seniors. Use experiences of real people to communicate with them. Testimonials about the benefits of hearing aids can be a beneficial advertising concept.
  • Make sure real people answer your phones as much as possible. Don’t subject potential patients to answering system decision trees when they call.
  • Refine the way in which you track marketing results to include demographics such as age, gender, degree of loss, discrimination score. Who is actually responding to your ad and who is purchasing hearing aids?
  • And lastly, do not reject the old mediums for the new. Print advertising and word of mouth still work.

The most important one on the list is….

Tracking

And here’s why,

Marketing and advertising are regionalized, what works in New York City is most likely not what will work in Atlanta, GA. One of the costliest items in the expense section of your P&L is advertising and marketing. You should constantly refine the way in which you track marketing results to better understand your demographic and how they are responding to your marketing attempts.

Ideally you want to spend as little as possible to garner the number of patients who are candidates for hearing aids that your practice needs on a monthly basis. Too often we run ads and inserts, or host open houses and consumer seminars, etc. with little thought as to why a prior ad or event was or wasn’t successful.

A minor change to an ad, for example, an ad run on a Monday may have a better or worse response from the public than the identical ad run on a Friday. Patterns will develop. Carefully cultivate and store information from the patients who respond to your advertising/marketing, particularly those who purchase hearing aids. After all, they’re the ones you want to make sure keep coming in your door.

Experience may teach you how to better manage hearing aid marketing and advertising events, but tracking the results in as many ways as possible will allow you to make better decisions about where to put your marketing dollars.

The Patient’s Journey to a Purchase

photo from sales management.com

The patient’s journey to a purchase has changed significantly in the past 10 years…ignore that fact and your business will suffer the consequences.

Every day, people form impressions of brands from touch points such as:

  •      Advertisements (both offline ex. print newspaper and online ex. PPC, paid social ads)
  •      Marketing (blogs are a good online example)
  •      Conversations with family and friends both online (social media) and offline  
  •      Product Experiences (hearing aid trials).

Unless consumers are actively shopping, much of that exposure appears wasted. But what happens when something triggers the impulse to buy?

Those accumulated impressions then become crucial because they shape the initial-consideration set: the small number of choices consumers regard at the outset as potential purchasing options.

What Are You Selling?

Speaking in generic terms, the sale of a hearing aid falls into the following categories:

  • The product is high value based. – Sold primarily by small business with a high average cost per sale (ASP).
  • The product has a long research or sales cycle. – A sales cycle is the series of predictable phases required to sell a product or a service.
  • It is a knowledge-based product. – The product requires the customer to understand a significant amount of new information prior to the purchase of the product.

In other words you are not selling a pizza (low value based, short sales cycle, little knowledge required).

When you think of it in those terms you’ll begin to understand why your advertising and marketing efforts need to ensure that your business is in the patient or significant others mind long before they’re ready to pick up the phone and call for an appointment.

How Patients Make Decisions

Consumers/Patients no longer take a linear approach when making a purchasing decision.  In the pre-digital age decisions followed a typical continuum –

Awareness, Familiarity, Consideration, Purchase, Loyalty… Repeat

The decision-making process is now more of a circular journey, battlegrounds where marketers can win or lose:

  • Problem/Need Recognition – This is often identified as the first and most important step in the customer’s decision process. A purchase cannot take place without the recognition of the need. In the case of a hearing impaired this step is often initiated by a significant other.
  • Initial Consideration – Brands based on touch-points (contact between a buyer and a seller) such as an advertisement, previous experience or personal recommendation.  This is pretty much a set of products and/or business that are already on the patient’s radar.
  • Active Evaluation – The process of researching potential purchases and gathering information.  This is the buyer’s effort to broaden their knowledge base and add to brands from the “initial consideration”.  The potential patient will search to identify and evaluate information sources related to the central buying decision.
  • Closure – when patients buy what you’re selling (the appointment). The final purchase decision may be ‘disrupted’ by two factors: negative feedback from other customers/patients and the level of motivation to continue the process.
  • Post Purchase – When consumers experience the product. Patients will compare products with their previous expectations and will be either satisfied or dissatisfied. These stages are critical in retaining customers. This can greatly affect the decision process for similar purchases from the same company in the future. If your customer is satisfied, this will result in brand loyalty.  On the basis of being either satisfied or dissatisfied, it is common for customers to distribute their positive or negative feedback about the product. This may be through reviews on website, social media networks or word of mouth. Companies should be very careful to create positive post-purchase communication, in order to engage customers and make the process as efficient as possible.

How the consumer chooses one provider over another is a much more complicated process than ever before.  To have continued success in your practice it’s imperative that you understand the buying behaviors of your demographic and how much those behaviors have changed over the past decade.

Everything You Need to Know About Targeted Marketing Campaigns

What are Targeted Marketing Campaigns?

Targeted Marketing Campaigns (TMC) are digital marketing campaigns offered by our sister company, Obelis Media. They are designed to generate leads via the Internet. We use a combination of social media advertising and search engine advertising to generate a significant increase in new traffic to your site. More traffic means more leads.

Target Marketing Campaigns will provide you with immediate results that are quantifiable and can be acted on immediately.

AdWords, Facebook Ads, Google Display Ads, etc. can be complicated. We know how to manipulate the variables including:

• choice of keywords/key phrases
• content of the landing page
• geographical reach
• choice of ad venue (Facebook, Twitter, Google…)
• device type (mobile, desktop…)

We make frequent, sometimes daily, adjustments based on our analysis of your data. Our job is to get the right people to your website to produce the leads you’re looking for while conserving as much of your advertising budget as possible.

What to Expect From TMC

Generate leads

The primary purpose of most advertising campaigns is to generate leads. Efficiency and economy of scale allow our system to generate leads while keeping the cost per lead well below the industry average.

Provide immediate and consistent traffic

As a marketer, it is crucial to be able to drive as many people to your website as consistently as possible. Huge lulls in traffic or huge unexpected spikes in traffic can kill a website. With paid search marketing, traffic amounts can be controlled as they are tied directly to how much the advertiser is willing to pay per click, per day and per month.

Provide an increase in the efficient delivery of your product or service to the intended consumer

The delivery of the campaign can be determined by any number of factors including, but not limited to:

• geography (by town, state or distance from a particular town or zip code, etc.)
• demographics (age, race, religion, gender, etc.)
• interests (hiking, photography, fishing, etc.)
• Increase in the efficiency of campaign development
• The same ad can be tested in using differing criteria to assess the effectiveness of the ad from market to market. Known as split testing we can quickly change the parameters of each campaign to maximize the CPL.

Our campaigns are designed to easily integrate with offline marketing

The ads used in your targeted campaigns can be provided to you in a PDF format. The ad can be used in print media campaigns to allow coordination between your offline and online marketing campaigns. Print ready artwork can be provided for an additional fee.

Allow for a more effective allotment of advertising resources

Your ads will be analyzed daily to assess the effectiveness. The ads, target markets, budget and so on can be instantly reconfigured to provide the optimal cost per lead (CPL).

Produces campaigns that are measurable

Our proprietary dashboard will allow you to see the effectiveness of every ad campaign run by Obelis Media. We make it as easy as possible for you to determine the return on investment (ROI) of each ad campaign by providing you with the data needed to determine your cost per lead (CPL).

What Can TMC Do for You? – Real Results

Instead of just telling you what TMC can do for you, we’d rather show you real-life results. Below we have numbers from an Ohio-based audiology practice. We tracked the practice numbers before and after beginning a Total Marketing Campaign (TMC).

In the month prior to beginning TMC, their results were as follows:

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-12-15-54-pm

The main results we’re looking at here are calls received and top traffic sources. They received 0 calls within the month and their top referral sources were referring little to no traffic, meaning web visitors were having to find the practice via search engine or organically. They were not putting their practice right in front of their target demographic.

In the month after beginning TMC, their results were as follows:

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-12-16-25-pm

After running one Facebook marketing campaign for only one month, they saw drastic results. Their website visits went up almost 400%, they received 13 calls from online marketing, and their top referral source was the marketing medium on which we ran the campaigns.

Their results 5 months later are still consistent and growing:

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-12-19-54-pm

The number of website visits has remained consistent, but the number of calls has almost quadrupled as a result of constant monitoring and campaign tweaks to reach the optimal audience. Facebook (the campaign platform) is consistently the highest traffic referral source.

Targeted Marketing Campaigns puts your practice in front of your target audience and keeps you there. With the lengthy sales cycle of hearing aids, it is important to have contact with potential consumers – early and often. TMC keeps you in your demographic’s minds eye, so that when they are ready to purchase, you’re the business they trust with their purchase.

To learn more,

visit obelismedia.com

9 Ways Digital Marketing Improves Healthcare Campaigns

While digital marketing has become a mainstay in many different industries, healthcare has been hesitant to adopt digital strategies. But now that more and more medical professionals are seeing the advantages of digital healthcare marketing, many see that it’s high time to embrace a more digital direction. To show healthcare marketers the value of diving into digital marketing, HealthworksCollective.com treated them to these nine key reasons.

1. Reduces Cost per Patient Acquisition (CPA)
Did you know that digital outreach can slash overall costs by as much as 50%, down to $149 per patient? Compare this to the cost of TV media, which averages $348 per patient. In addition, digital marketing consistently reduces total marketing spend and increases ROI in practically every industry.

2. Targets Patients with Certain Conditions
Digital marketing lets physicians target patients in a variety of ways, including by their condition, gender, age, and zip code. And BIA Kelsey research shows that 97% of consumers use the Internet for local shopping. By optimizing search terms in real time, physicians can yield better results and ROI.

3. It’s Modern Medicine
According to McKinsey research, 75% of people want to use digital healthcare services. With patients spending more time online and using mobile resources on a daily basis, digital is the modern way for physicians to practice medicine.

4. Brings Better Decisions with Better Data
While traditional marketing methods tend to be hard to track, digital strategies are rather easy to monitor and measure, thanks to a wealth of data-driven technologies. This data allows physicians to make more effective and efficient marketing decisions.

5. Helps Brands Stand Out in Search Engines
Marketing Land reports that around 20% of Google searches are health related and more than 70% of these searches result in a first-page click. But ensuring that your brand appears on the first page demands savvy SEO strategies and well-placed paid advertising campaigns targeted to your audience.

6. Allows for Personalized Marketing Messages
Digital marketing allows for personally targeting people, rather than sending a general message to the mass media audience. This lets physicians target prospective patients with just the right message, in the right context, at the right time.

7. Improves Patient Retention
Having a digital presence makes it faster and easier for patients to locate and reach a physician’s website, digital patient portals, and important information. Patients appreciate this convenience when taking control of their healthcare. In addition, patients also value a physician’s social media presence. In fact, PwC research showed that 41% of patients said that social media engagement will determine their choice of physician and medical treatment facility.

8. Increases Patient Referrals
More and more physicians are finding that digital marketing strategies help increase their number of prospective patients, as well as lower the cost of connecting and engaging with them. Plus, digital options make it easy for patients to access and engage physicians, which increases their satisfaction and frequency of referral.

9. Enhances the Patient Experience
Along with easing and expediting patient access, digital marketing improves the patient experience at every step and stage of their journey. Digital tracking systems make it simple to send regular appointment reminders, as well as respond to patient needs with relevant blog articles, and enhance their overall experience with patient satisfaction surveys.

By using digital healthcare marketing strategies, physicians can treat both their patients and their practice to a superior level of care.

How to Go from Clicks to Calls

If your brand is targeting older adults online and your ultimate goal is to get foot traffic to your “brick and mortar” location, it can sometimes be challenging to turn those website visitors into in-person visits. If you aren’t seeing the conversion results you’d like to see from your online campaigns targeting seniors, start by considering a few things.

First, are your marketing efforts effectively reaching your target audience, or are you, perhaps, targeting too broadly?

Second, are you reaching your audience at all stages of the sales funnel – from initial awareness to decision time?

Third, are your website visitors taking the desired action? Are you effectively getting that “in-store foot traffic?”

Let’s take a look.

The Right Traffic

The first step toward turning web traffic (visitors) into in-person visits is to ensure that you’re generating awareness with the right audience. After all, if you’re driving the wrong crowds to your site, all they’ll do is leave.

Oftentimes, when it comes to generating awareness, you’re starting from scratch. Users aren’t yet aware of your product or service, or don’t yet know that they need it. This is what we refer to as the “top of the funnel.” As a brand new senior living or active adult community, for example, you’d need to start by making those in your city aware of your new community.

One way to do this is by using Google Customer Match. You can upload your existing list of email addresses (at least 1,000) to create a custom user audience that is similar to your existing email subscribers. This helps you to reach users with similar demographic and online behavior.

With Google Customer Match, you can target users on YouTube or Gmail (under the Promotions tab). Similar audience targeting is available through the Google Display Network, where you can use display ads to target users based on demographics, interests, and more. Here, for example, if you are an assisted living facility, you could run ads across the entire Google Display Network next to content related to assisted living, health conditions, etc. And, yes, this can also be geographically targeted, so only users in a certain area would see your ads.

On Facebook, you can increase awareness by showing ads to friends of those who already like your page, or by creating custom audiences that fit your target demographic.

While it may seem obvious that, if you’re marketing to older consumers, you’ll want to gear your content and campaigns toward them, consider ways to narrow your audience around topics, interests, income, etc. There is always additional segmenting that can be done to ensure you’re optimizing your audience to reach the older adults who will find your offerings to be highly relevant.

Creating awareness with the right audience is the first step to making sure that your web traffic isn’t fool’s gold.

Remarketing to Re-engage Already-Interested Consumers

Now that users have visited your site, you’ll want them to take the next step and visit in person.

Because they’ve seen your site, either as a result of other direct marketing efforts or a search query, etc., we are able to monitor user behavior with analytics. If users spend some time on your site but do not complete a desired action (ie. Submitting a form to request more information from your retirement community), we are able to utilize remarketing to get in front of the user again. By tagging visitors with a “cookie” (a piece of code), we can essentially follow users around – showing them ads – as they browse the web. This may sound a little creepy, but it works! Why?

It’s because the people you’re remarketing to have already shown a genuine interest in your business. In cases where there is a long sales cycle or it is a highly considered purchase, it’s not unusual for a user to take his or her time moving forward in the funnel. This is why it can be very helpful to remarket to these users online to keep them engaged. Here are a few ways to do this:

Via Google Display Network

Use graphic (aka banner) ads or text ads to re-engage user. As a senior living or active adult community, a good idea would be to suggest that users return to your site to register for an upcoming event or to tour the community.

Remarketing on Google Search

You can use RLSA to show carefully crafted messages to searchers who have already been to your site, but haven’t yet converted. To re-engage, maybe invite users to view your floor plans or extensive photo gallery.

The Full Funnel Approach

From awareness to conversion, turning web visits into in-person visits requires a comprehensive approach to digital marketing. The secret is something we call the full-funnel approach. While we’ve written about this in more depth before, it’s worth mentioning again. All of your awareness generation, remarketing, and offers need to be synthesized into a cohesive, optimized strategy that reaches each customer with the right message at the right time in the sales funnel. The targeting, ads, landing page copy, and call-to-action all need to be strategically planned and work cohesively in order to generate what you’re ultimately looking for – qualified in-person visits.

Choosing Your Keywords

Let’s say you’re in the market for a new pair of hearing aids.  You’re online and you Google “Hearing Aids”, 5,460,000,000 results pop up.  Clearly you can’t look at that many options, so you begin to refine the results.  “hearing aids Hoboken NJ” or “audiologist san francisco CA”.  These words and phrases are known as keywords.

Why are keywords so important?  The search engines will deliver a list of web pages (as a side note your website is nothing more than web pages linked together) containing the keywords.

When you build a website, you want to make sure that when customers search for keywords related to your business, your website appears as early as possible in the list of results.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the science, some would say art of making sure that happens.

So what keywords should you choose?

Begin the process by thinking like your customer.  Terminology specific to your industry is probably not the way a customer will find you.  It’s also a good idea to keep your target demographic in mind.  A 40 year old male will not use the same keywords as a 20 year old female even if they are searching for the same product.

Product names are often used as keywords.  That’s great when your plan is to capture a customer searching specifically for a particular product.  But you also want to make sure you don’t miss out on customers searching for a product within that category.

For example if your keyword strategy is to focus on Jimmy Choo shoes because that’s all you sell then that’s a great plan.  However if you sell 10 other expensive brands, you don’t want to miss out on customers searching for “expensive shoes” or “designer shoes”.

Keyword selection can be tricky especially once you become an expert in your own particular niche because you tend to forgot how to behave like your customer.

Remember these 5 tips for choosing keywords:

  1. Research Your Market
  2. Analyze Your Market
  3. Make Your Keywords Specific
  4. Target Your Local Area
  5. Don’t Try to Optimize for Highly Competitive Words

Will choosing the best possible keywords for your website automatically bump it to page 1?  It’s not the only factor.  But choosing the wrong keywords can be a recipe for disaster.

First Impressions are Everything

If you think your website is just fine the way that it is, and it makes a great first impression read this to be sure.
It takes less than two-tenths of a second (that’s quicker than an actual blink of an eye) for a potential patient online to form a first opinion of your brand once they’ve perused your company’s website, according to researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. And it takes just another 2.6 seconds for that viewer’s eyes to concentrate in a way that reinforces that first impression. The researchers found that specific sections attracted the most interest.
The seven sections that sparked the most interest are below:

  • The logo. Users spent about 6.48 seconds focused on this area before moving on.
  • The main navigation menu. Almost as popular as the logo, subjects spent an average of 6.44 seconds viewing the menu.
  • The search box, where users focused for just over 6 seconds.
  • Social networking links to sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Users spent about 5.95 seconds viewing these areas.
  • The site’s main image, where users’ eyes fixated for an average of 5.94 seconds.
  • The site’s written content, where users spent about 5.59 seconds.
  • The bottom of a website, where users spent about 5.25 seconds.

A customer’s first impression of you and your business used to be via the yellow pages. Their expectations were fairly low and they were never really able to form an impression about your business. The Internet has changed the potential customers “first impression” experience, and more importantly, it has changed their “first impression” expectations.
What does all this mean? You need a website. But not only do you need a website, you need a well-designed website. And not only does it have to look good, it needs to function perfectly. Along with looking and functioning great, it needs to show a visitor what they want to know without the need to search for it since the researchers found that on average, a visitor spent 20 seconds on a site. And most importantly, you site needs to leave a fabulous first impression.
If it’s been a while since you really looked at your website, take a look. What is your “first impression”?

6 Easy Ways to Get Online Reviews

The past few weeks we’ve been discussing why online reviews are a critical part of your online marketing and SEO. What we haven’t talked about is how to get them. Enter this week’s blog! When you’re focusing on your online reviews, it’s easy to get caught up in one or two bad reviews you may have. But the easiest way to combat negative feed back is by loading up on positive reviews. Below are 6 easy ways to get online reviews from happy customers, as outlined by Nellie Akalp in Forbes.

1. Set Up Profiles on Multiple Review Sites

Consider all the sites that are relevant to your business: Yelp, Angie’s List, Google Local, Yahoo Local, LinkedIn, TripAdvisor, and CitySearch. Even if you don’t think you are in a review-driven industry like restaurants and hospitality, general review sites like TrustLink and Trustpilot are great (Trustpilot has the added benefit of showing up on Google).

2. Ask Your Customers

Want to know the best way to increase the number of reviews for your business? Just ask. Your customers understand how important reviews are to your business, and as long as you provide an excellent product or service, they won’t be annoyed if you ask for a review. Don’t wait too long: customers are more likely to give you feedback right away.

The next time a customer compliments you via email, phone, or in person, mention that you’d appreciate if they left the same feedback in an online review on Trustpilot, Yelp, or the review site of their choice.

3. Make It Easy to Leave Reviews

Unless someone has a negative experience to share, the average customer is not going to look for ways to leave your company a review. That’s why you need to ask them to post a review and make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Put direct links to your review profiles in multiple places; for example, a follow-up email, newsletter, and your website. Yelp offers downloadable “Find us on Yelp” banners that you can use on your website or print out for your store.

4. Incent (but Don’t Buy) Reviews

Sometimes even your most satisfied customers need some extra incentive to take time out of their busy schedule to write a review. Offering a small incentive is a good way to show your appreciation. You just need to make sure your offer is for writing a review, and not for writing a good review. Monthly giveaways, where you choose one reviewer at random, are effective ways to encourage reviews, and there’s no semblance of a transaction where you are paying for a review.

5. Thank Your Reviewers

If the review site allows it, thank each person who reviews your product or service. In addition, you can even surprise a top reviewer by sending them a discount code or freebie after they’ve posted a review. This simple act will turn a satisfied customer into an incredibly loyal evangelist.

6. Make Reviews a Part of Your Work Processes

Make sure that all customer service and sales employees understand the importance of soliciting reviews from the customers they work with. At our company we saw the number of reviews rise after implementing an incentive program where employees receive a cash bonus for any reviews (for example, 3 reviews=$100; 15 reviews=$750).

Choose whatever kind of bonus and program makes sense for your business. It’s just an added incentive to help employees remember to ask for a review. Given the importance of reviews in the customer decision process, this is one of the most effective ways to spend your marketing dollars.

Do Online Reviews Affect SEO?

Customer reviews and ratings are essential items in the SEO’s tool belt, especially for optimizing local businesses. A Moz survey predicts that reviews make up almost 10% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank you. And it makes sense.

Like I said in last week’s blog, search engines love reviews because consumers love reviews.

Search engines are in the business of providing users with the most accurate information to help them predict and make decisions around their future purchases. The faster they can do that, the more consumers will turn to them time and time again.

But what do they take into consideration regarding reviews? Review signals. What’s a review signal? you’re asking. Good question. Entrepreneur describes review signals as different aspects of a company’s review profile online and include:

1. Review Quantity

The more reviews you have, the better. According to BrightLocal’s survey, you need seven to 10 reviews before most people trust you.

2. Review Velocity

How quickly reviews are posted for your business. Too fast, and you’ll get dinged.

3. Review Diversity

How many sites have reviews for your business

4. Quantity of Third-Party Traditional Reviews

How many reviews your business has on sites not owned by Google

5. Authority of Third-Party Sites Where Reviews are Present

Some customer review sites have greater authority with Google than others.

6. Overall Velocity of Reviews (Native and Third Party)

How quickly your business is accruing reviews, both on Google properties (a.k.a. “native”) and other review sites.

7. Volume of Testimonials in Review

This refers to the reviews used in microdata, also called “rich snippets.” Here’s where to see that:

8. Quantity of Native Google Maps Reviews with Text

Google’s reviews started out on Google Maps.

9. Diversity of Third-Party Sites that have Reviews

How many different customer review sites have reviews for your business?

10. Product or Service Keywords in Reviews.

It helps to have keywords in reviews, but don’t overdo them.

11. Quantity of Authority Reviewers

Some sites, like Yelp, give certain reviewers more influence than others. New reviewers on Yelp don’t even get their reviews published until they’ve submitted five reviews. Getting a review on any site from an “authority reviewer” could help your search rankings.

Ratings and reviews are a huge conversion factor, more influential for getting users to click through and make a purchase than business citations or most other elements of local SEO. If your search result has 4.5 stars and 14 reviews (compared to fewer for your competitors), that’s strong social proof that your product or service is trustworthy. But besides increasing users’ trust, recent search innovations have created new reasons that SEO-minded local businesses need reviews and ratings.

These three benefits: improved SEO, improved conversion, and increased brand trust, working together, clearly illustrate the value of attracting good reviews online. If, between two otherwise equal competitors, one business pursues better reviews while the other ignores them, the business that pursues better reviews will undoubtedly win out in terms of traffic and eventual purchases.