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Why Reviews Are so Important to the Success of Your Tax Accounting Practice

November 9, 2015

People used to the traditional marketing environment can sometimes be a little unnerved by the reams of information shared online. Reviews on sites like niche sites like TaxBuzz and CountingWorks, as well as generalized sites like Facebook and Google, are a way that consumers communicate with one another about the services they use every day. They can be a bit intimidating to people not used to this sort of openness. But, when well managed, they can be an integral part of your marketing online.

Reviews Can Be Your Best Advertising

The opinions and experiences of others can be a huge factor in the firms we choose to do business with. In a 2015 Bright Local survey, 85% of consumers said that they read online reviews before making a purchase decision. Positive reviews, especially those posted by people who are friends or family, or who are known in online communities, can sway someone to choose one business over another. The psychological and marketing theory behind this is known as social proof. When we see that others have done something, it makes us more likely to follow suit.

Post some of your best reviews and testimonials directly on your website. By adding these, you can show prospective customers the good service that you have provided to others in your community and leave them more inclined to do business with your firm.

Your business’s online reputation can make a huge difference in winning new clients. Research conducted by Dimensional Research showed that 90% of respondents said positive reviews influenced their decision; 84% said that negative reviews might make them stay away. By the time someone is looking at reviews, they have already decided to buy a product or service. The reviews simply help them decide who they are going to buy it from.

Search Engines Love Reviews

Reviews aren’t just popular with consumers; search engines love them, too. In large part, this is because review sites are so popular with consumers; search engine results that get more clicks get indexed higher over time. Additionally, search engines index frequently-updated sites better. Since new reviews can be posted all the time, this gives them an edge in the SERPs. Often, you will find that review sites make up the top results for keywords relevant to your business.

Specialized review sites index great, as well, because of the heavy emphasis on specific keywords and the effective way these sites satisfy user intent. Take, for instance, a search for “New Hampton, NH tax preparation.” As this is written, area tax service Dr. Richard Spead (Spead Tax Group) is the top Google result and his Yelp and TaxBuzz profiles come next.

Search Engine experts at MOZ estimate that a business’s reviews make up 10% of how search engines rank search results. When your five-star rating shows up on the Google results above or below the link to your page, a high rating encourages clicks. As more surfers decide that your page is the most helpful answer to their queries, this helps you ascend in the search engine results.

How to Encourage Happy Customers to Review Your Business

The average consumer looks at up to 6 reviews to form an opinion about a business. By encouraging large numbers of reviews, you give them a more information to base their opinion on.

The first step is to ensure that your customers are happy. To gauge customer satisfaction, keep communication open. Call customers now and then to see if they are satisfied or have issues to address. Send out satisfaction surveys periodically, either by postal mail or email.

The occasional bad review is not a big deal, especially if they are balanced by a larger number of positive reviews. Unhappy customers are more likely to post reviews and an excessive number of bad reviews can harm your online reputation. When customer problems do arise, deal with them swiftly. Whatever you do, do not retaliate against a customer who leaves a negative review. This can lead to an escalation that leaves you with a bad reputation online. Instead, apologize for any errors and offer to make it right as soon as possible. A quick resolution is more likely to turn a negative review into a positive one.

Decide which review sites to focus on. You can see which are most used by people looking for tax services by searching for your accounting firm’s name and the keywords usually used when looking for your services. TaxBuzz is specifically for CPAs and accountants, and many people prefer these niche sites because they give only relevant results. The sites that show the most reviews are the ones to showcase in your communications with clients to encourage reviews.

It’s important to approach each site carefully to ensure that reviews on that site will be helpful to your business. Yelp, for instance, has a reputation for going overboard on censoring reviews. Reviews they consider solicited reviews may be filtered, which means that they do not show up on your main Yelp page and do not count in your star rating.

Google advises businesses to specifically ask for reviews. The next time you send a statement or another mailing, include a line at the end asking your client to leave a review on your Google My Business listing. You can also include links to your business Facebook page and ask customers to leave reviews there.

On your website, you can include a page dedicated specifically to your reviews and testimonials. This not only gives you a place to showcase your best feedback, it encourages established customers to offer their two cents, as well.

Make a continual stream of positive reviews one of your marketing goals for your business. It allows you to keep you knowledgeable about your customer satisfaction rate and improve customer experience. And, it means that a constant stream of new and up-to-date reviews is coming in, giving new prospective customers reasons to choose you.

Pro advice, ideas, and information to help your practice get going and grow.

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Lee Reams II

I am a marketing junkie who has spent the last 20 years developing and executing "best in class" word-of-mouth marketing campaigns. With over 10,000 happy clients I think we are on to something. The explosion in web marketing and social media have redefined the way independent professionals market their practices. Follow my blog to see if you can take some of our actionable ideas to market your own practice.

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