Online Reviews:The Foundation Of Plumbing Marketing
Online reviews are the foundation of the digital marketing for your plumbing business. And they can make or break your business. This article will show you how to get more reviews from your plumbing customers.
Why Are Online Reviews So Important?
Online reviews are digital word of mouth. So your potential customers find them really helpful when they are looking for a new plumber.
- They have many plumbers to choose from,
- It's challenging to know what sort of service you're going to get from the plumber beforehand.
Thus they look at the service experience of people who have used your plumbing business in the past.
What they're doing is they're going online and looking at the Google or Facebook listings for reviews. They are comparing your reviews to those of your plumbing competitors. They are checking;
- To see who's got the most and best reviews.
- What people say about your business.
- How your business responds to both positive and negative reviews.
- The recency of the reviews because as far as most people are concerned, reviews from more than three months ago are not relevant.
Here is the data to back up the statements above from various research sources
- 90% of consumers under 35 trust reviews as much as referrals from friends and family.
- 86% of them are more likely to pay more for a plumbing company with higher ratings and reviews
- In a Podium study Podium, 93% of consumers said that online reviews for local businesses are as helpful as product reviews on sites like Amazon.
- 68% say they find online reviews to be extremely valuable or valuable in evaluating a plumbing provider.
- 48% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written within the past two weeks.
- The average consumer spends 13 minutes and 45 seconds reading reviews before making a decision.
- Going from a 3-star rating to a 5-star rating gets a business 25% more clicks from Google local pack.
- 45% of consumers say they’re more likely to visit a business that responds to their negative reviews.
Online Reviews Increase Ranking And Website Conversions
According to experts, review signals make up 15% of Google local pack ranking factors, so online reviews get your business more visibility on Google and Google Maps. More visibility means more traffic and calls.
They're also important because they help you convert customers. The social proof power of the online reviews both on Google and on your plumbing website can help up to triple your conversion rate from website visitors to customer enquiries.
So if you're looking for new customers, online reviews are fundamental to your success.
Which Are The Sites That Are The Most Important For Collecting Reviews On?
In Australia, for plumbers the most important websites to get your reviews on to are;
- Google My Business
- Yellow Pages
- True Local
- Hi Pages
So if you don't already have a decent review presence on all of those sites - certainly the top four - and a process for collecting those reviews, it's time you got about it.
8 Different Ways You Can Go About Collecting Reviews From Plumbing Customers
There are eight ways to approach it.
1. Ask In Person, Face To Face
The best way to ask for reviews is in person. This is because it can feel like a favour from the customer to the plumber, and you can get a commitment from the person that they will go online and leave the review. Of course, some will say that they will do it and they still don't. That’s life; you’ll have a higher success rate from this approach than any other because you can always follow up with the other methods after the face-to-face ask.
You can do that close to the end of your plumbing job.
Just ask the customer if everything's okay and if they are happy with the job. Most will say they are.
Then you can say
“Could I ask a favour? It would help others in the community if you shared your experience on Google or Facebook. It helps others choose a business like ours. Would you be happy to do that?”
And if they say yes, tell them that you will send them an email or SMS and get them the link so they can do that on their phone.
There's going to be some reasons why you're not able to ask them face to face;
- Perhaps your staff member or you forgot to do it.
- Perhaps the customer wasn’t there at the time you completed the job.
- Perhaps you didn't get time, or it didn't seem appropriate.
- Or maybe you just chickened out asking.
Then you can use any of the other less personal ways of making the ask.
2. Leave A Review Request Card
One other way of getting reviews is just to leave a card. When you finish the plumbing job for the customer, you can leave the card on the kitchen bench or in the mailbox. But it's always better just to talk to the customer about it at the time.
You can leave the card requesting an online review and explaining how to do it.
There are some risks here - and with all the other impersonal methods below.
- You don’t get a read on the customer to see if they are happy with the job.
- You don’t get the opportunity to get feedback and fix any issues.
- You will likely get a low review conversion rate.
You can always follow up with an email or SMS request as well.
3. Ask By Email
Another way is that you can leave it until you finish the plumbing job and ask for the review by email at the end of the day. Make sure your email request contains links directly to the Google My Business listing and or your Facebook page reviews section.
The email ask is going to be less effective because you didn't have that interpersonal exchange with the customer, and you didn’t get a commitment from them to leave a review. And emails are easy to ignore or park.
Then your best bet is to follow up in a few days and see if they have posted a review somewhere and remind those people who haven't done it yet if they would please go ahead and do the review.
It's also essential that you make those requests every day rather than save them up in a big batch and do them all at the end of the month. That’s because;
- People forget about the experience, and the ‘warm glow’ of your service fades.
- Google and other review sites don’t like it when you do nothing and then send 30 or 40 reviews to your listing on one day - it can look suspicious.
4. Ask By Text Message
Another way to ask for reviews is to ask for reviews via an SMS message. Text messages are increasingly popular because everyone's got a phone and they open nearly all text messages quickly.
So if you're sending text messages to your customers already then asking for a review via a text message can be a great way of doing it.
Plus it's super easy for them to leave a review because it's probably a three-click operation. Your customer opens the text message, they click to the link on the page and leave the review.
As with email, you should follow up in a few days and see if they have posted a review and remind those people who haven't left a review if they would please go ahead and do that.
5. Have A Review Page On Your Website
Another way to collect reviews is to make a page on your website with links to your various review sites.
It's relatively easy to build a page on the website that shows the icons for Google, Facebook True Local and Yellow Pages, for example. These icons can link directly to the right place on the web for the customer to go there and leave a review. That way, you only need to share the review page with your customer, and they can choose where they want to leave the review.
The only downsides of this approach are;
- They may choose a site that's not so important to you, but you can control that by what you list on the page.
- Others can access the page and use it to leave reviews when they are not customers. They could do that anyway if they wanted to.
- It’s another step in the dance and one more hurdle for the potential reviewer to deal with. Hurdles create inaction.
6. Ask By Snail Mail
You can also ask for reviews by sending letters or postcards out to customers. This takes longer than sending an email, and it costs a lot more, but it looks better because you've made an effort to send the letter and people don't get many letters these days.
It’s harder to follow up with because you don’t know when they got the letter or postcard or if it's even been delivered. And a second follow-up pretty much doubles your costs.
It’s also a barrier between the written word and the direct link to the review site. The customer has to take the letter to their phone or computer and then type in the link to get started. As I said before it's a hurdle and hurdles, create inaction.
7. Ask On Social Media
You can ask for reviews on social media by just asking your followers if they would leave you a review. It’s easy to ask your Facebook followers to leave a review via a post or a messenger message.
There are some issues with this approach;
- Some reviewers will not be customers, so may not accurately reflect your real service.
- There are always some people out there who will leave a bad review even if they are not customers.
- The reach of posts and messages is low, and you would need to boost them with advertising to reach most followers.
- It's very impersonal and (at least to me) feels a bit desperate for a plumber.
8. Make Outbound Service Follow Up Calls
Some plumbing businesses make outbound service calls to customers to check that everything's okay - usually, 1-2 days after you complete the job. Your plumbing business can use that opportunity at that time to ask for the review.
What Do You Say Or Ask?
Face To Face
It's essential to make sure you and your staff are listening for positive vibes and compliments about the services you provided during the plumbing job. When you get a compliment from a customer, then it's a good time to follow up with an ask for a review.
You just need to say;
Thanks for the feedback. We aim to do a great job, so you ask us back in the future.
We're trying to grow the business and if it's not too much to ask would you help more people know what it's like to work with us by leaving an online review. Would you be willing to do that?
When they say yes you can then let them know you will send them a link via email or to their mobile phone and give them a short explanation of how to post the review online.
Some people make excuses like they don't have an email address or the time, or a Google account etc. Don't push it. You are never going to get 100% of people to commit to leaving a review.
But just know that the Brightlocal research shows 76% of consumers that are asked to leave a review go on to write one.
Via Email or SMS
Here’s the approach we use for our plumbing customers with good success
Hi [first name],
Thanks for using [Company name].
Did we meet your expectations?
Your feedback helps us know what we did well and where we need to improve. It also helps others in the community choose a business like ours.
Please takes a moment and leave us some feedback.
Thanks for your business and support!
Follow Up Email or SMS
Hi [first name],
Have you had a chance to complete your review of [Company name].
Your feedback means a lot to us because it helps;
Us to understand where we are doing well and where we need to pull our socks up.
Others in the community learn what it's like working with us.
It's easy to leave a review and will only take a few clicks and a moment of your time:
[Review Us Now]
Thank you for your support
Some Other Tips About Getting Online Reviews
Leverage Your Google Reviews And Google Tools
To get more reviews from Google, you can create a short link that is shareable and will direct people to the right place on your Google My Business page. Here are some instructions from Google as to how to create that link. You can then share the short URL with customers.
It's also essential to reply to your reviews - especially on Google. It helps do two things:
- It helps potential customers who are looking at your reviews in the future. It helps them understand that you care about what customers think.
- And it helps stop bad reviews because people who are about to leave a bad review will see that you always respond to them and it may make them think twice.
When you get a few reviews, it's a good idea to stream them on your website so that you can show them off to website visitors.
It's also a good idea to use them in your quotes, and in your marketing like direct mail, letter drops, local ads, email and social media.
Don't Worry About A Few Negative Reviews
One thing that you might be worried about is getting negative reviews. People don't trust reviews online if there aren't some negative reviews because they don't believe it's realistic. So the odd negative review doesn't do any harm and getting a few negative reviews tells you a little bit about your process and what you need to improve on.
What You Should Not Do
There's a couple of things you should not do when you're asking for reviews because the review sites don't like it.
First of those is to ask for a five-star review. You need to ask for honest feedback instead. If the review site finds out you're asking for five-star reviews, they might remove the reviews and may even take you off this site.
The other thing that you're not allowed to do is incentivise people to leave reviews. So you can't offer benefits or anything else to get the customer to do the review. Those reviews need to be freely left.
Be Proactive And Consistent
The more proactive you are about collecting reviews, the more likely you are to collect good reviews and a lot of them and have those negate the odd negative review. So it's crucial that you and your team take on this foundational element of your digital marketing.
If you find that it's too hard to be collecting online reviews of if you don't have the time to follow it up and chase everybody, then check out our review management software.
Systematise The Process
Consistently collecting reviews from customers is a bit of a pain in the butt process. There are four main fail points;
- You or your staff forget to ask for reviews at the end of the job. If you don't ask you don't get the commitment and therefore, your review conversion rate is going to be low.
- It's difficult for your customers to go online and leave a review. They have to overcome several hurdles and order to leave a review, and as a result, they just don't bother.
- There is no consistent process that everybody applies, so you have no idea what works and what doesn't.
- Following up on customers who didn't leave a review is a large time commitment. That’s because you have to check if they did leave a review and then go back into some sort of system and send a reminder.
This lack of process means you end up with fewer reviews per 100 customers than you could have, and that puts you at a competitive disadvantage.
We have a tool that significantly reduces the time taken to collect reviews from customers and increases review conversion from customers.
- All that has to happen is that one of your staff members enters the customer's name and email or mobile number into our review system. The review system will ask the customer whether they want to review your company on Google or Facebook.
- It automatically follows up with All customers who have not left a review to remind them to do so.
- And it's effortless for the customer to leave a review. All it takes is three clicks.
We can offer you several options that automate the process for you. And if you'd like a two-week trial just contact us and we can get that started.