The move to the review economy has dramatically changed the buying process. A recent survey noted that 70% of consumers trust reviews when making a buying decision. If you think about it, we do it every day, whether we're shopping for a TV, choosing a restaurant, or selecting a doctor: reviews matter.
The big marketing secret to many of our top-producing tax accounting practices is the proactive gathering of reviews. Case study after case study has shown that tax professionals who are proactive in building their online reputation draw more qualified leads and increased referrals. One of our clients grew so much last year, they had to expand their offices, primarily as a result of word of mouth generated by positive reviews. In addition, clients who read how satisfied other clients are with you are more likely to refer more clients and leave nice words about you.
One of the dilemmas faced by busy tax accounting professionals is how to ask for reviews and where to display them. Websites like Yelp are already gathering reviews whether you like it or not. Some tax accountants are hesitant to solicit reviews for fear of negative comments. First, that can already occur on Yelp, and you can't stop it. Our experience has been that those who are proactive in controlling and managing their online reputations receive 5 star reviews.
Our best performers solicit reviews from their client base via email to one or all three of the big review sites: TaxBuzz.com, Yelp*, and Google+. We do this by sending a well-written email with thanks to the review sites. On average, we get 5-10 reviews as a result of this initial send. We then embed the reviews on their websites so visitors can easily access what others are saying.
It is important that these reviews are stored on third party review sites to maintain credibility. We then add the review site links to email, social media, and email newsletter communications. This helps create positive word of mouth and generate more leads. Following up after appointments and promoting your review sites in your lobby is highly recommended.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) consists of many elements that help rank your brand online. According to a recent SEO ranking survey by Moz.com, review signals account for 10% of the factors used by search engines to rank your brand. For many markets, that’s the difference between being on page 1 and being on page 2 of the search results. As with any SEO process, the results are not immediate but grow over time. So be patient.
Take Away - Taking control of the review process and using it as an asset is the key differentiator for our more successful CPA, Enrolled Agent, and tax professional firms.
*Yelp discourages soliciting reviews and may hide some if they feel you are manipulating their system. We believe Yelp has no right to control your online reputation and you have every right to be proactive.