We all know that word of mouth referrals are AMAZING for our business and kind words not only make our day as wedding suppliers and make all of the hard work you put in for your couple all the more worth while - they are also FANTASTIC social proof for others checking out your business for the first time.
Online reviews can work wonders for your business and can have a significant affect on your business reputation. As humans, we naturally rely on others opinions of products and services to form our own views especially when the product or service may be more money than we imagined.
Therefore it's absolutely no surprise that couples are also relying on online reviews when it comes to them forming an opinion on your business and making decisions about their weddings.
Reviews are an important part of any solid wedding business marketing strategy. Here's a few reasons why:
Provides social proof and shows that you are good at what you do.
The quantity of reviews demonstrates that you are a popular choice.
Sharing your reviews on Google My Business and across your social media channels will increase your brand awareness.
Statistics show that wedding businesses with 1 review typically double their enquiries, and 10 reviews can double them again, making reviews a highly important factor to the decision-making process of your couples.
What's the difference between testimonials and reviews?
Testimonials are used on your own website and can be edited and shortened to suit your website style. Reviews are left on third-party websites and tend to be trusted much more as couples can see the full unedited version. It's important to have a strategy that relies on both methods.
In order to collect honest feedback from your clients it pays to be quick off the mark is important as the customer’s experience will be fresh in their minds and they will be more likely to leave a more detailed review. If a bride or groom makes a particularly positive comment during a conversation with you, don’t be afraid to ask if they would mind putting that comment in a review. 9 times out of 10 they will be happy to support your business. If you haven't had the chance to ask in person, email or message them with a polite request and include a link to make it as easy as possible. It's totally acceptable to ask again in a week or two, but don't send them more than one reminder. A good approach is to mention that you’ve noticed they haven’t left a review and invite them to contact you if there was anything that you could have done better, sending the link again. Happy clients who may have ignored your first request are usually quick to reassure you by leaving a great review if this approach is used.
Yes it can feel awkward, but if you are not actively asking your customer for reviews you are missing out on one of the best free marketing opportunities available to you as a small business.
You are then able to take those reviews and turn them into testimonials for your website and social media graphics. The best reviews include the client's name and use emotive words to demonstrate how you went further than they may have expected, giving examples of the difference you made to their day. Once a customer has left a review it's good practice to thank them online, this way they feel appreciated and future couples will know that their effort in reviewing you will also be gratefully received. Add a personal note to every review you receive acknowledging your appreciation for the feedback and sharing why you enjoyed working with that couple. You can also include a link to any further pictures or a blog post you may have for their wedding to give future couples more validation that you are great at what you do!
So now we have covered reviews and testimonials, how to get them and why they are so important for your business, I wanted to share the mistakes we commonly see on wedding suppliers' sites when they use testimonials so you can be aware of them in marketing your own business.
1) Putting them at the bottom of the page
Don't assume potential clients are reading every bit of information on your website and scrolling down to the bottom of your pages. It's better to strategically place them in key places on your website that get most traffic or in the places that your client is likely to click. Contact pages, next to any images you have that receive a lot of traffic, landing pages and your about page should all include testimonials. You need to place testimonials strategically amongst your other content and information.
2) Making them too long
The longer your testimonial is the less likely it is that someone will read all of it. Pick out the best bits of the reviews you have received and keep them short and snappy.
3) Having a Testimonials Page
Generally speaking your testimonials page is one of the least viewed pages on your website. It makes sense as usually your client has probably got a feel for your business before landing on your site from elsewhere. Spread your testimonials across your site.
4) Not replying to negative feedback
Tricky subject I know, nobody wants to hear they have done a bad job. Especially as some of the time you'll have done absolutely everything right, put in countless extra hours into their project, had sleepless nights over their wedding, given them your first born....and they'll still find something to nit pick over. Although it's not a nice feeling - it's best to try and remain objective. As your business grows it's likely at some point you'll receive less than perfect feedback. It happens to the best of us. But....it can....sting! Especially if you really couldn't have done anymore for the couple in question and you disagree with the content or context of the review. In cases like those - where wholeheartedly you could not have done anything more for the person in question and their expectations have been totally unrealistic I used to always remind myself that for every one thousand lovely people you'll meet in the world and for whom your work would have been perfect - there's always one crazy. Unfortunately you just met your crazy.
Some of the time your couple may have a genuine reason that some part of their wedding didn't quite go to plan .....the way you should respond to feedback should be the same.
Firstly, and this one is really difficult to do is not to take it personally. The best approach is to keep calm, politely reply online in the open forum to invite them to contact you directly to resolve the concern. Once the person has discussed their feelings and concerns, apologise that the service wasn't the exceptional standard you normally pride yourself on and agree a solution together. If you have an open and honest discussion, perhaps even at some points jumping on a call to provide a human element to the situation, they are usually happy to delete the review. But, even if they don't any future clients will see that you were quick to resolve their concern.
5) Not collecting reviews from other wedding suppliers
It's not only brides and grooms who can leave reviews for your business. I'll bet you've worked with many other wedding suppliers who have experience of your professionalism and of your work. Reach out to any suppliers you have in your network, any you have worked on with styled shoots or those you have collaborated with and ask them to help you build up your online reviews. Offer to do the same for them and they'll be happy to help!
Remember to keep a collection somewhere of your favourite reviews. They make for great reading when imposter syndrome kicks in and you are having a 'meh' day. Reading the kind words other people have written about your business will light that fire back within you and you'll feel ready to tackle anything again!