For many businesses, this sentiment is the initial response I hear when a whole array of marketing topics comes up, especially the topic of online ratings and reviews. The unstated belief is that online ratings and reviews are irrelevant because all new business comes from the referrals of current customers & clients.
For trusted advisor businesses like Financial Advisors, Realtors, and many other professional occupations, it may very well be true that most of your business currently comes from referrals, but please read on as I invite you to take a closer look at this belief and its underlying assumptions.
Assumption: 10 referrals = 10 new clients?
This is an unspoken and unexamined belief held by many people I speak with. But as soon as you say it out loud or write it down, doubt should immediately start to creep in. To state it more clearly, the assumption holds that if a current client enthusiastically recommends my business to a colleague with a similar need, then I can count on that referral translating into a client.
If you think about your own experience when you seek a referral for a service or business, you’ll quickly realize that the above assumption is unrealistic. When you’re looking for a referral, you probably ask all of the friends and colleagues who have good judgment, or who may have a connection to the industry in need. For most folks, that’s rarely just one person. In fact, most of the time you will ask three or more people for their input when you’re seeking a referral. If all 3+ people recommend the same person/business, your decision is easy. But that rarely happens, right? Instead, you’re likely to get three or more names to consider. Should each referred business expect to win 33% of the time? That depends on how you choose between several recommendations. So what comes next?
You Google Them!
Even if you plan on reaching out to each referral to form your own opinions, you’re going to Google them first. You may just want to look up their contact info, or see if they have any pictures online, or learn more about their specializations. But whatever your initial reason, those Google results are going to reveal something about their online reputation, and you can’t unsee what Google shows you. Let’s take a look at two examples of the picture that Google might paint.
Example 1: No Reviews in Sight
Yes the image is blurry, but that’s to illustrate that nothing stands out and catches your eye in the first page of Google search results. There’s nothing to tell you about other peoples’ experiences with this person or business, and whether those were positive or negative experiences.
Example 2: Screen full of stars
In this example of a similar search, we’ve unblurred the parts that DO jump out to consumers. The stars that are shown right in the Google search results are called “Rich Snippet Stars,” and in an instant they tell the person searching that there are LOTS of data points representing other customers’ experiences with this business. If we count, in total there are 316 reviews across five sites. And four of those five sites have an average rating above 4.5 stars.
So, back to you and your business. Now you know a potential client is Googling you and the other two businesses they were referred to. Which example do you want to look like?
Do online reviews even matter?
Surveys say they do indeed matter. Here are three quick stats to make the case.
- 77% of consumers ‘always’ or ‘regularly’ read online reviews when browsing for local businesses – BrightLocal Consumer Reviews Survey
- “More recently, marketing experts have found that online information affects the vast majority of prospects’ choices of firms, with nearly half removing advisors from consideration based on what they saw or couldn’t find in their digital footprints” – Financial Planning Magazine, December 2021
- Rich Snippet stars in search results increase clickthrough rates by 150% – Catalyst Digital
Conclusion: You can improve your odds of winning referrals
Referrals may be the highest quality source of new business – qualified leads who are very similar to your current “best fit clients.” But you cannot assume that your business gets selected whenever you get referred. And if you want to maximize your chances of getting selected in a referral showdown, you can! You just need to unlock and share the positive experiences of your current clients. And Amplify Reviews makes it easy to do exactly that. Contact us if you would like to discuss how we can help you win more referrals.