Online Reviews For Your Accounting Practice- Are They Important?| |
Think about yourself, do you use reviews to determine which movie you'll watch, what book you'll buy from Amazon, what restaurant you'll make reservations for when you are away from home, and what hotel you'll stay in. Well, people do the same thing when deciding what contractor to work with, what doctor to hire, and which accountant will best meet their needs. In fact, many of us have gotten so comfortable reading reviews that we'll seldom invest two hours into a movie without knowing what the reviews said about this flick because wasting two hours on a lousy movie is just not worth it.
Online reviews help us make more informed decisions and reduce the likelihood of having a terrible experience. And while the process is not perfect, reviews do reduce the risk of having a bad experience. Reviews matter because:
- Reviews are read by small business owners and can influence their purchasing decision. While one bad review is fine, a pattern of negative reviews is a problem.
- Positive reviews create the basis for your reputation locally. Even people who don't currently work with you like to know who the best accounting firms are in town, so they know who to recommend. This behavior happens with doctors, lawyers, architects and accounting firms. Your local reputation spreads by word of mouth.
- Online reviews influence your firm reputation locally so it can become a "brand"
- They increase website traffic and lead generation
- Postive online reviews will make it easier to close prospects (less selling required to close prospect, more like a referral)
- Having good online reviews protect you if a bad review comes through. A bad review is nothing to worry about as long as you have good ones to balance it out.
- Lots of online reviews make it easier to hire and retain staff
Online review websites are all over the place. The major search engines, online yellow page providers, and review services gather reviews already.
- Local Business Listings: Google Business, Yelp, Facebook
- Online Yellow Pages – InsiderPages, City Search, Manta.com, MerchantCircle.com
- Review Services – Yelp, Judy's Book.com, AngiesList.com, Kudzu.com
To secure reviews, most review websites require your business to register with their website and provide some basic information. Most are free and require you to validate that you are a valid local business. Some will validate by phone and others by mailing out a postcard with a security code. Beyond the validation process, you will want to optimize your listing with each review website so that your reviews will be easy to locate. Yes, this takes some elbow grease but is well worth the time to do it right the first time. Changes to these registries are painful and slow, so save your usernames and passwords for each major review website.
We often suggest using an online local listing management service such as Local Moz. This ensures your information is consistent across all these platforms and you don't have any duplicates or inconsistencies. Build Your Firm offers a service called Content Marketing in a Box for accountants which takes over this entire process for accounting firms who don't want to do it in-house.
Although asking your clients to review your accounting services is something most accountants fear, it is vital to creating a positive reputation locally. I strongly recommend that you secure 5-10 favorable reviews into the major online review websites. Start first with Google Places Business tackling the others. Yelp is the most challenging because they scrutinize each review and often need a few reviews before they'll post something live because they are trying to screen out fraudulent reviews.