Digital marketing can be a tricky proposition for new or small businesses. You might be working on a tight (or non-existent) budget, you are likely competing with larger businesses who dominate search results, and developing your own website can be an expensive proposition.

Are You Using Review Sites to Effectively Market Your Business Online-

One of the best ways for a local business to sidestep these issues and reach customers online is to optimise their presence on review sites. Review sites have made the consumer voice stronger than ever and local businesses can also use them to connect directly with customers, getting online exposure in a cost-effective way.

If you’re ready to get your business started on review sites, here’s six tips to get you started.

1. Get the basics right.

Your top priority should be to claim and update your free business pages, which you can do on most major review sites. Almost 80% of people use review sites to find local businesses and most users make purchasing decisions based on what they find, so you want to make sure consumers are seeing accurate information about your business – especially for things like hours, website, address, and contact numbers.

2. Get your photos up and make them count!

Yelp users stay 2.5 times longer on business pages with photos so make sure to upload high quality images that show off your store or office and products or services. Make sure your photos tell a story – don’t just upload your logo as it’s not that helpful for customers.

3. Tell your story!

Consumers today want to know about the businesses they frequent, so tell them about your business, its history, and your specialties. These details can help people decide on your business. Optimising your business page to include this information also helps with search results.

4. Get mobile ready.

Over 80% of Australians now own a smartphone, so most consumers now find information about businesses on the go. Many review sites (Yelp included) have a specific app for business owners that notifies you when consumers engage with your page and lets you respond to reviews from your mobile device. Take advantage of these free tools so you can manage your business’ digital presence on the go.

5. Respond to reviews.

Responding to reviews is one of the most powerful things a business can do online. Private messages are great for thanking customers, while public messages (seen by everyone who views your page) are a great way to show you care about customer service. It’s important to respond to online feedback the same way you would in person, so always remember to thank the reviewer for their feedback and calmly flag any inaccuracies. Almost 80% of reviews on Yelp are 3 stars or more (out of 5), so you’re likely to be receiving good comments online. But, if you do face a negative review, remember to stay calm and ensure your reply is polite.

6. Let people know where to find you online.

Encourage customers to engage with your business online by pointing them to your presence on review sites. Instead of directly asking customers for reviews, focus on providing great service and just let people know where to find you online – this will make sure your business’ online reputation grows organically, which is what consumers trust most. Don’t forget – sometimes a simple visual reminder (like a window sticker) makes the biggest difference!