This article originally appeared on the Inside Self-Storage Blog.
Managing your business is a juggling act. Between tenant requests, facility maintenance, resolving employee issues, and following up on leads, you're always trying to keep all those balls in the air. With all the work you're already balancing, who has the time for more?
Browsing the web for customer comments and Googling yourself seems like a waste of time in comparison to the big stuff you deal with every day. But the fact is: if you aren't monitoring and controlling your online presence, you're missing potential sales.
According to research by location software company Yext, around half of all businesses in the US have wrong, missing or incomplete business listings online. This is costing US businesses $10.3 billion worth in potential annual sales.
Online reviews are also huge when it comes to hooking new customers: Review Trackers found that 97 percent of consumers search online when making local shopping decisions. A Search Engine Land study found 90 percent of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Looking at online reviews and business listings is far from a waste of time. Gathering and analyzing online feedback about your company is crucial to your success. Here are some easy ways to start tracking this information, so you can use it to work smarter, not harder.
Stop Googling your business and start using site crawlers that aggregate your information for you. Here’s a list of some of the best easy-to-use automated tools for managing your online presence:
Citation Management: Tap into a service that crawls hundreds of locations around the web for you to find your outdated or missing location information. It also gathers online reviews from dozens of review sites and mines social media data. It fixes your wrong, incomplete, or missing business listings online, claiming your listings across all major review sites. You can then view and respond to your reviews all in one place.
Google Alerts: A free and easy Google tool that lets you create an alert and get a notification when your keyword or phrase appears on the web. Track mentions of your business name, your website, your competitors, and more.
IFTT: If This Then That is a workflow tool for businesses and individuals. Using 'recipes', IFTT plugs your various apps and services together and automates tasks for you. Push blog comments to SMS notifications. Automate almost anything across social media. Automate a weekly email or SMS summary of all new reviews or mentions online. Even get a text reminder about a check engine light in a company vehicle. IFTT tracks everything Google Alerts tracks, and more.
Mailchimp: If you do any email marketing at all, you’re probably familiar with Mailchimp’s automation workflows. What you may not know, is that they also connect Google Analytics to track user engagement and ROI. If you include your review link at the bottom of your emails, Mailchimp can track how many people are opening it or abandoning it after starting.
ReviewTrackers: This tool monitors and gathers your reviews from around review websites (and industry specific sites) so you can manage it all from one place. You can view analytics and respond directly to unhappy customers, request new reviews from happy customers, and track reviews across multiple facility locations.
Sprout Social: Automate your social media presence and gather detailed analytics across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Use social listening to track what customers say about you online. Benchmark your performance against your competitors or use Sprout's integrated Google Analytics to dig deeper into your social presence.
Routines are also vital when it comes to managing your online presence. Using Google Calendar is a smart way to set up weekly or monthly routines for checking your online reviews or social media performance. If you know you're always swamped on Saturdays (but dead on Tuesdays), you can set up a weekly reminder on Tuesday to log in and check out your reviews. Pretty soon logging in on Tuesday will be something you don't even have to think about. Developing these routines will also help you stay ahead of negative customer feedback and increase your online review score.
Once you have helpful automated tools in place, it gets a lot easier to manage your online presence. Your listings are claimed and corrected. You can sleep at night knowing customers can find your business online. And you can spend more time being creative with content and strategizing around what is working and what isn’t. Start looking at important metrics like these routinely to track your progress:
Tracking your progress gives you valuable data that can help you set short-term and long-term goals. After you’ve been tracking things for a while, you can use this to make sure you’re trending up long-term.
When potential customers are choosing between you and your competitor, they’re going to compare your online reputations and go with the one people say is the best. This is why getting more reviews is crucial: the more five-star reviews you have, the less those one-stars reviews can hurt you.
To get more reviews, you have to ask everyone. And you have to make it easy to leave reviews. Here are some tips to get more reviews:
Put your review link at the bottom of all your emails, invoices, receipts and business cards. Bonus points if you write something cute that makes users want to click. “Like our service? Click here to give us a digital high-five.”
Have employees wear name tags and talk about online reviews. When a customer has a great experience with an employee, they enjoy giving them a personal shout-out online. Plus, if your employees know customers remember their name, they’re going to give better service.
Make sure your website links to your review page. Install a widget that takes users to your review site.
Send a follow-up email to new tenants. Set up an automated email that goes out a few days after a tenant moves in asking how their service was.
Create fliers for your front desk and bathrooms. Make sure these areas are kept clean for a consistently great customer experience.
The way you respond to negative reviews is one of the fastest ways to shape your online reputation. How you respond will depend on the nature of the review, but you don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time. Having routines for responding to negative customer reviews is smart, helps your brand stay consistent, and makes it easier to track feedback. Plus it makes your life way easier. Never feel unprepared again with these tips:
Save all your responses. You can reference your past responses as a template when you feel like you aren’t sure what to say. Keep these responses at your fingertips wherever you are by storing them in a cloud-based drive.
Always be personal. This is NOT the time to use industry jargon. Use the customer’s name, speak plainly and apologize. Show that there’s a person behind the brand.
140 characters or less. Keep it simple and remember everyone’s reading your response. Encourage the customer to contact you directly to resolve it.
Track it. See how your responses are affecting your review scores, and alter course if necessary.
Make it a low-stress routine. If responding to negative reviews stresses you out, make a relaxing routine out of it. Schedule it for the same time every week. Sit in a quiet room and listen to your favorite music. Eat a snack you enjoy or do a fun activity afterward as a reward. Soon you might just look forward to it!
Start using these tips today to improve your facility’s online reviews and business listings. Remember why it’s important to maintain your online presence: to make it easy for new customers to find you, and (ultimately) generate more leads. And don’t be discouraged if your online reviews aren’t currently where you want them to be. You can use these tools to start tracking your progress now and set goals to get where you want to be.
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