If you’re a tradesperson looking to build your business and win more work, improving your online visibility is key. Homeowners will often research extensively online before making a decision, and it’s important you can earn customers’ trust from the get-go.

2016-12 Using customer reviews to build your business online

An online profile helps establish you as a business, reviews help demonstrate other people have used (and appreciated) your services, and keeping your profile up to date can help reinforce to homeowners that they’re dealing with a professional outfit.

To put it simply: would you be more inclined to visit a restaurant where the latest Trip Advisor review was two years old, or one where the most recent review was just two weeks old?

The average person sees 2,000 marketing messages every day*. Because of that, a single piece of advertising has to work hard to be heard. And when it does manage to cut through the noise, it’s not always trusted.

To establish trust, you need to focus on user reviews. Around 88% of consumers say that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. That’s compared to just 63% of people trusting TV ads and 60% trusting newspaper ads**.

Why? Because they’re the closest thing to the most trusted form of advertising – word of mouth.

Why improve your online visibility

Every business should have an online profile of some sort. Not only is it easier to showcase user reviews online, the way people search for tradespeople has changed over time.

Homeowners no longer rely solely on friends’ recommendations; instead, as mentioned above, many go online to find a tradesperson for their projects.

As with any business, you go where the customers are and for tradespeople, a lot of work can now be found online.

Reviews help build your online visibility

Unless a homeowner has heard of you before, they’re most likely going to go to a search engine like Google to find a tradesperson.

As just one search can yield thousands of results, you need to make sure you’re doing all you can to make Google aware of who you are.

Otherwise, you won’t appear anywhere near the top for the type of searches you want to be found for.

If you’re not being seen, a customer isn’t aware that you exist and has no way of knowing that you’re the best person to help them with their job.

The latest stats suggest that seven out of every 10 clicks in Google search results go to the top five results*. Do you appear in the top five results if someone was to search for your trade in your local area?

Google also says that ‘ads with star ratings get 17% more clicks than ads that don’t,’ and the same applies to the rest of Google’s results. People now recognise what those stars mean. It’s a way of earning that trust, and it’s a way of helping you win more work.

Check who’s talking about you

Check how visible you are:

1) Search your name/the name of your business on Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

2) Set up a Google alert for your company so you get a notification each time someone mentions you.

3) Search for your trade in your area; e.g. plumbers near me/plumbers in Rochester.

Do you appear? If you don’t, who does?

Tackle your reviews to build your reputation

Good reviews help you win work, so don’t be shy to ask for them whenever you’ve completed a job. Explaining why reviews are important to your business can help encourage a homeowner to give you feedback.

If you happen to get a review that doesn’t paint you in the best light, keep in mind that even the best companies can get negative reviews; it’s how you respond to them that counts.

Take the feedback into account – if a customer feels that you didn’t deliver what you said you would, how can you improve for next time?

We found that a number of studies*** believe that perfect online reviews are too good to be true. So, whether you feel a comment was fair or unjust, replying to it calmly and putting your side of the story across is a form of good customer service, which can work in your favour with potential customers.

Support your online presence offline

Once you’ve got a handful of online reviews, make the most of them by including them in your offline marketing. Put reviews on flyers or add them to your calling cards.

Though, remember that even if you add reviews to your offline material, many customers will still check your reputation online before they hire you.

Make sure you’re as focused on building your reputation online as you are offline.