As a small business owner, you have plenty on your plate. Staying ahead of the competition is a significant side that complements your main course: financial stability. Here’s how to win the competition crusade.

 

Besides online giants, your competition in small business includes traditional brick and mortar retail locations. What will encourage online customers and foot traffic to choose you over the alternatives?

 

Think about customer testimonials present in online reviews. The online reputation of your product or service is just as important as a customer’s experience when he walks through your doors or picks up the phone to speak to an agent. Cleanliness in the store and friendliness on the phone might score you an interview: customer interest. But online reviews are the polished shoes that win you the job: a sale.

 

Think about a customer shopping on Amazon. A savvy consumer will search through the reviews, perhaps even using the search tool for a reviewer with a similar age and gender profile. What’s the shopper’s logical conclusion? The number of stars from a similar cyberspace persona will match her reality. An online review from a total stranger can be just as trusted as a friend’s advice.

 

Here are four simple ways to generate online reviews for your small business and outpace the competition:

 

1. Simplify your website.

What’s the subdomain for your online reviews? Keep it simple and easy for customers to remember. Try “reviews.yourdomain.com.” Your hosting provider should have instructions for subdomain setup. Capture not only the review itself but also the customer’s contact information. Email addresses are a golden nugget for additional sales.

 

2. Claim your listings.

Did you know most of the features on popular business listing sites are free? Sign up for free advertising and make it easy for customers to find your online billboards. At minimum, ensure your Google Plus, Yelp, Bing, and Foursquare profiles are up to date. Besides directions, a phone number, and your URL, consider adding extras like a menu and photos. A single business Gmail account can be used as the login for each site to keep it business owner friendly.

 

Now, pay it forward. The listing sites have graphical icons that deserve a place on your website. Make the icons clickable to allow your landing page customers to post on these alternate sites.

 

3. Encourage feedback and interact online.

Unfortunately, negative reviews come with no encouragement. But satisfied customers are often happy to leave online feedback. They just need a little push and answers to the questions of where and how.

 

Remind customers to leave a review when they shop with you. Remember to respond with gratitude for the positive reviews and attempt a solution for the negative reviews. A less than five star rating is just an opportunity for you to improve.

 

Three types of customers will benefit from your response to online feedback. The customer who left the review is more likely to return for a round two sale. Other previous customers will notice the interaction and post their own experience. New customers will be encouraged to try your product or service.

 

4. Ask for help.

Think about the merits of a mobile responsive review page. You could create an instruction card with a barcode for smartphone users to scan, which directs them to your review page. Your page could use a popular plug-in or something completely custom.

 

If you want the help of a graphic designer, website creator, or a small business consultant for technical barcodes or review pages, don’t be afraid to ask for help. In today’s economy your time is a valuable resource. Outside resources to cut back on time spent in your online review endeavor make sense. Consider a consultant and commit financially. Strategies to generate online reviews tend to return on their investment.

 

Until your online reviews are a cash flow generating well-oiled machine, consider Advanced Funds Network. AFN is in the business of helping small businesses like yours succeed. Check out our own review page and let AFN take the first steps towards your future positive review.