Turn online reviews into referrals

April 16, 2012 | Last updated on April 16, 2012
2 min read

Due to the continued growth of mobile Internet usage and the torrent of apps and platforms being produced, consumers are increasingly looking to online reviews and websites to find trusted businesses and services, according to the 2012 Local Consumer Review Survey.

The online survey, put to a panel of 4,500 consumers located in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., found that the majority (72%) now trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations, and that over half (52%) are swayed by reviews when deciding to choose or avoid a business or service.

Read: Social media engagement drives referrals

The survey found that 85% of consumers across North America and in the U.K. now use to internet as a quick and easy way to find a business, and that 16% use the internet for this purpose every week, up from 9% in 2010.

In addition, only 28% of consumers cite other factors such as location and price as part of their decision-making process when comparing businesses and services.

Read: Banks “buying” friends on Facebook

So, what does this mean for professionals in the financial industry?

With more banks now on Facebook than ever before, and with an endless stream of how-to manuals stressing the online marketing potential for various businesses, all signs point to the fact that professionals need to find ways to create a positive and engaging online identity.

If you don’t already have a website or blog, it may be time to create one, and if you’ve taken that first step, it’s now time to think of ways to drive traffic and engage your consumers, readers and reviewers.

Social media platforms can serve as an amplifier to those seeking change, reform, and information—both a happy and unhappy consumer can now tell the world what any particular service or business has to offer.

And it’s the job of the professional or business to take the opportunity to engage with their audience and turn these reviews into potential referrals and marketing aids.

With regulatory confines, this can be challenging in the financial industry. However, tips from socially savvy companies include serving as an online resource for your audience in terms of industry news and issues, as well as researching competitors’ sites to scout their initiatives and then attempting to offer different or better services.

Businesses should play to their strengths and develop a strong social presence. Through it, they can offer relevant services and content, and foster related or unrelated conversations with their audience that can lead to positive reviews and referrals.