In part 1, we talked about some practical tips for converting a satisfied customer to a raving fan who is willing to talk about their experience with your service-based company online.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to get that fan to talk about your website in a way that benefits your search marketing efforts.
Creating The Experience Review
1. Master The Art Of Asking
Everyone hates being rejected, but often the fear of rejection robs us of amazing opportunities.
In a service industry, you may need to ask your satisfied client if they would consider sharing their experience. Here is a great example from Ben Frashure, who did the home inspection for my house, and sent a followup email soon after.
I just wanted to follow up with you to see if you had any questions about the report or the home you purchased. Furthermore, if you have the time, please consider rating my work on Google. I think the simplest way is through Google Maps. My business relies, in large part, on referrals, so honest opinions from my customers really help me out. Also, if you include the city and state of the inspection, this would help broaden my Google footprint. Thank you for your business and support.
There are several things I liked about this ask. First, it was short and to the point. There are only three parts to the email:
- An opening statement that asks if everything was OK and offers to answer any outstanding questions or address any concerns about the work.
- A request for consideration for an experience review. He preemptively answered the question of “where” the review should live by saying Google Maps, and he also explained “why” he is asking for the review. The only thing he could have done better was to answer the “how” of leaving a review.
- A simple thank you.
Ben knew that a review on Google Maps was the key to improving local rankings, and he even asked to include the city and state in my review, because he’s targeting local keywords.
What’s really important to understand here is the power of reciprocity. I felt compelled to support Ben and his business because he really went above and beyond in his thoroughness with my house inspection. He spent a little extra time serving me, and now I can reciprocate with a short review.
In this TED talk, Amanda Palmer explains this concept of giving away your work and time for free, then let people pay you for it by asking.
2. Strike While The Iron Is Hot
I had my home inspection report done May 14th, and Ben asked for my recommendation on June 12th. While a month may seem like a long time in many industries, it isn’t that long in real estate.
In an ideal world, I would say Ben should have asked for a review two weeks earlier, as that would have given me a week to digest his report, yet still have the experience fresh in mind.
If too much time passes, the details and feelings your client experienced will begin to fade, and their experience review will be shortener and more generic. To counteract this, you’ll want to check in every so often to either gently remind them of some of the experience highlights, or extend that experience with a “drumbeat” email.
A drumbeat email is like a newsletter. Just a few small tips or interesting articles that you’ve curated for them. In Ben’s case, he could have sent an email once a week containing links to how-to videos on YouTube related to issues he discovered on the home inspection. It doesn’t take much time or money, and it shows a very personal interest in the success of your client.
You can then repurpose this content in an “articles” section on your website to help improve long-tail keyword rankings.
3. Don’t Ignore Vertical Search Engines
As for my realtor, Peggy Bouchard, as soon as I told her on the phone that I would leave her a review online, she emailed me links to the review sections of Zillow and Trulia. For her, Zillow and Trulia (which are merging, but say they will maintain separate sites) are probably more important than Google in terms of sending qualified leads.
4. Use Social Engagement To Improve Personalized Search Results
Every business wants more likes and followers on their social media profiles, but it’s so tacky to ask people to like your FB page without having a personal relationship.
It’s a much better idea to host personalized content on your Facebook page or social profile, and invite clients to comment, like and share. For example, if I were a real estate agent, I would take additional pictures and a video of the house my clients were closing on, and host them on my FB page. This makes it easy for clients to share those videos with friends and family (who are hopefully considering moving into the area, as well).
Now that your client has shared content from your social profiles, that content is likely to show up higher in Google’s and Bing’s rankings for people who are connected to your client on social networks. It’s all part of the search engine’s push to personalize the search experience by showing social media activity in the search results.
5. Going Old School
About three weeks after my house closed I received some snail mail from Re/Max, which is the agency my realtor belongs to. It was a customer survey asking me a few questions about my home shopping experience.
The survey was the typical questionnaire, which I was happy to fill out, but I’m pretty sure anyone under the age of 30 has forgotten how to use a pencil and pen by now.
If the survey had an online counterpart, it would have been easier for the agency to tabulate results, and positive responses could be easily copied to the company website as a testimonial.
Not only do online testimonials build credibility for visitors, but user-generated content is a great way to beef up your website’s presence without needing to create new content yourself.
Remember, it’s OK to go “old school” with a mail-based questioner; but, if you want the SEO value, you’ve got to be ready to digitize the responses.
6. The Holy Grail
Ultimately, the highest compliment any customer can give you is to tell their friends about you. This offline word of mouth drives business, but it doesn’t directly impact organic rankings.
However, we’re living in a day where consumers are constantly blogging, vlogging, instagramming and sharing their lives online.
All those links, mentions, shares and likes from blogs and social media outlets are SEO gold. They weren’t asked for; rather they were the result of a client being inspired to create some positive content based on some great marketing done by the service providers.
Think about it: when you’re in a restaurant and the meal you ordered turns out to be a work of art, what do you do? Chances are you whip out your phone and start sharing pictures.
If you want consumers to share their offline experience with you online, you need to inspire them, delight them and make it easy for them to document what they’re experiencing.
They are taking on the role of a digital story teller. Your job, as a service-based business, is to write that story for them; if done properly, search engines will take those stories (i.e., experience reviews) into account when ranking your website.
How About You?
What’s the best customer experience you’ve ever received? What type of things made you say, “Wow, I’ve got to tell my friends about this!”? Share your story below.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.