We had quite the revelation a few weeks ago when we asked the question “If you got a referral for a service (specifically a legal service, but I guarantee this applies to any business) from a family member or a close friend, on a scale 1-10, how likely would you be to research the company further before contacting them.” The answer was 8.67 out of 10 and up to 9.47 weighted as the mode and median were both 10. For me, having conducted dozens of surveys over the years with most results more or less confirming what we already knew with a degree of insight, this was the most shocking response I’ve ever received. This leads to the fact that it’s also one of the most important initiatives a company can take today to improve their flow of potentially very qualified leads.
In our article “Protecting Your Brand to Ensure Your Word of Mouth Keeps on Coming,” we established that consumers can easily weigh the opinions of strangers as much as their own immediate social circle. Frankly, in most instances, the opinions of strangers online coupled with star ratings and anonymity are considered stronger than the immediate circle. Therefore, most businesses may have their word of mouth/referrals that may not follow through because of how they perceive the business online once they do their 30 minutes of research on average. That being said, the main ways of protecting your referrals are the following primaries and secondaries:
- Claiming and Completing All Profiles and Directories Online
- Online Reputation Management
- Your Website
- Generating and Featuring Positive Reviews
- Social Engagement and Consistency
- Your Brand
- Intake Process
The list is growing as we discuss this more, but here is the foundation. We wanted to expand on our findings so far since it is important for businesses to gain as much insight into such an important topic.
Since we asked about how likely someone would be inclined to do additional research on a company, we now decided to ask “How important are others’ opinions about a company?” specifying that the other people are people they don’t know. This puts into perspective how much consumers rely on reviews and opinions from people they’ve never met, have never seen their opinions/reviews on anything else that may verify that they think similarly at all, or if the stranger legitimately has an underlying bias that didn’t resonate in the actual review.
Even with this all being established, the average response was 7.14, with a Median of 7 and a Mode of 8, giving a weighted average of 7.35. This is still a formidable number, considering that the service in question could potentially have a life-changing outcome.
In the last survey we did, we asked how long the participant would spend doing research on a company ahead of time, and that answer averaged out to 30 minutes. This time we asked, “How many websites would you visit before finding all the information you need to decide on contacting?” The average was 4.6, with a Median of 4 and a Mode of 3, for a weighted of 3.94. So roughly 4 websites.
Do a Google search of your branded name – that means the average person would more than likely spend 30 minutes reading into the first 4 results of your company’s name. Do those results make you look as good as you are, or is there a result in that top 4 that could be tarnishing your image? That’s ultimately what these surveys have been addressing: if someone were to search for you, what would stand out as positive? What is holding you back? If you do have to put a plan of action together for improving the means in which you secure your potential referrals, is there a way of prioritizing them?
When it comes to reviews, which would be one of the most important factors in retaining a positive perception of your brand online, we can analyze a few of the most important websites that apply to all businesses: Google, Facebook, and Yelp.
How do Potentially Qualified Leads Perceive Google, Yelp, and Facebook?
The question we asked participants was “How trustworthy do you find reviews on the following websites?” Here’s what we got:
Weighted Average: 6.86
Weighted Average: 6.67
Weighted Average: 5.86
At least for me, it’s nice to see Google as being more trustworthy than Yelp, even if it’s marginally. Perhaps Yelp isn’t viewed as much as a great resource for professional services. I am not surprised about Facebook.
As far as the difficulty of obtaining reviews, each one is easy to distinguish. Facebook would be very easy, Google is average, and Yelp is very difficult (and technically, you’re supposed to have no means of proactively obtaining reviews at all). You could make your own decision on prioritizing where you’d attempt to build reviews based off of this information.
So, What’s the Takeaway?
Based off of this additional information, my first reactions are:
- Reworking and emphasizing the fact that people trust the opinions of strangers to make potentially big decisions.
- The first four search results for your brand are crucial. They must reflect your firm positively or you could be losing out on referrals. Also, be aware of lower results that stand out, especially ones with Review Structured data.
- There must be a plan in place for having quality reviews (at least a 4.0 average across all platforms). Google is almost always going to be the most important platform because of the additional SEO implications, but don’t write off Facebook and Yelp just yet.
Could Your Reviews Use a Boost?
As you can see, it’s crucial to continuously get positive reviews from your clients. It’s best if these reviews can be found on Google, Facebook, and Yelp, and maintaining at least a 4-star average is ideal. If you’re struggling to get reviews from clients, maybe we can help? At Market My Market, we collaborate closely with our clients to gather positive reviews from their reliable customers. See how we can help you receive more positive reviews from your best clients by calling us for a free marketing consultation.