How Your Diesel Business Can Build a Stellar Online Review Strategy for 2020
Good online reviews fuel your diesel business. Bad ones can stall it or even junk it. If you’re smart, you’re probably asking yourself “How do a improve the online reputation management (ORM) strategy at my diesel business?”
We gleaned some expert answers last week from Kent Lewis’s SEMA 2019 class. Lewis is president and founder at digital marketing agency Anvil Media. He also teaches digital strategy at Portland State University. “Just a few minutes after Al Gore invented the internet I was out there doing SEO,” he joked.
Lewis said he understands that most small businesses have very little time and resources to devote to ORM. Here’s how to use his advice to craft an online review response plan for your diesel business.
Audit your digital presence. Conduct searches for your brand(s) online to see what comes up. Pay special attention to the first page and anything ‘above the fold’ (anything visible on a device without scrolling).
Insider Tip: Use Google Incognito to temporarily strip your digital profile of cookies and other data that skew results. Incognito and similar tools transform you into a ‘secret shopper’ who can see the Internet as your customer sees it, explains Marketing Espionage author Heather Lutze.
One you’ve completed searches for your brand(s), add common modifiers a prospect or customer would use when they want to learn about what other people think of your business. Examples include “reviews,” “online reviews,” and “ratings,” Lewis said.
Once you’ve found a review site you want to focus on, declare an “all hands on deck” until your profile there is where you want it to be. Enlist your employees’ help asking satisfied customers to leave reviews. Make sure someone is trained to answer reviews regularly. Hold staff huddles to track progress until you’ve reached your goal, Lewis suggested.
Insider Tip: Everyone at your company should participate in ORM—doing everything they can to offer quality goods of services that keep customers happy or alerting the team to negative reviews, for example. But do make sure you “create some rules of engagement,” Lewis urged. Make clear which employees are authorized to respond to online reviews. Anyone who responds online should be able to express themselves clearly in writing and know good customer service techniques.
Make sure that you have claimed your profile on all significant review sites. Anyone can talk about your business on any review platform, whether you’ve claimed your profile there or not. Claiming your profile helps you begin to control the conversation. You can show a great picture of your team, for example, instead of some random and depressing shot of your building’s exterior that a Google drive-by vehicle grabbed two years ago.
How do I claim my business’s online profile you might ask? Go to these pages to get instructions from Google, Yelp, and Glassdoor. Claiming instructions should be in the help section of any online review web site. Data show that your revenue is higher if you have claimed all of your review profiles, Lewis said.
Insider Tip: If the site asks “are you the business owner?” you know that neither you nor anyone at your business has claimed the profile yet, said Lewis. “So claim it.”
You should have at least 12 reviews on each platform. It’s a numbers game, similar to how your GPA average worked in school, Lewis joked. If you have 12 or more reviews, that one bad review or two won’t hurt your average as much, he explained. If you don’t have enough reviews on one or more sites, work together with your staff to encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews for your diesel business on their favorite review site.
Insider Tip: The ideal star rating out of 5 stars is 4.8 or 4.9 “because it looks real,” Lewis said.
Respond to online reviews, both positive and negative. You’re busy, we know. But if someone from your business drops in on sites to genuinely thank people for their positive reviews and express the hope you can serve them again, that goes a long way. You can’t respond to everything, but “if you respond to at least 50 percent of your reviews, that’s a sweet spot,” Lewis told his SEMA class.
Insider Tip: Auto services that reply to online reviews more than 25 percent of the time earn 13 percent more than those who reply less often.
DON’T use the same copy/paste paragraph to respond to every review. That mistake causes more ORM problems than it solves.
Handle negative reviews shrewdly. First “plug the leak,” Lewis urged. Solve the problem that has caused the customer to be unhappy. “Once you do that, for real, you can talk about it in your review responses,” he said.
If the customer has direct contact information, contact them to resolve the problem. If not, urge them to contact you so that you can work with them to solve the problem. You want to take the conversation offline as soon as possible and also show online bystanders that you take customer complaints seriously.
Insider Tip: One of the most powerful ways to begin an online review is “I’m sorry you feel this way …” Lewis told SEMA attendees. “Take the right tone, and don’t be defensive.”
Monitor online reviews of your diesel business. Mention.com is free. There are other monitoring tools that cost money and don’t offer good ROI for small businesses, Lewis said. So start with Mention and see how it works for your business.
Want more ideas for how to boost your diesel business online? We’ll cover more tips from Lewis and other digital marketing experts in future issues of Diesel World Insider.