Friday, August 17, 2018

Let Your Customers Do the Talking: How to Use Reviews in Your Content Marketing

Your contractor business can add credibility and complexity to its content when you regularly incorporate the positive feedback your customers leave. This practice has an added bonus of rewarding customers for their praise, strengthening your relationship with them and encouraging others to follow in their footsteps.

You may think that simply regurgitating customer acclaim can seem like a cheap or shallow tactic. When you go about using customer reviews incorrectly, that can absolutely be the case.

But when you can masterfully weave praise into your content marketing and collateral materials, it feels like a natural fit. Your content becomes richer, and your brand name becomes more credible.

According to eMarketer research, online reviews are by far the most trusted source of business information. In fact, 8 percent more people 18+ trust online reviews compared to their own friends, family and colleagues. Putting your reviews front and center in your content offers documented proof of peer approval, and no one has to go digging into third-party sites to find that proof.

So if you’re considering using customer reviews to obtain all of the above benefits and more, try putting the following strategies into action.

Pepper Website Pages, and Especially Landing Pages, With Embedded Reviews and Accolades

contractor marketing pros reviews

Contractor businesses have a huge trust gap they must clear when a potential customer or client first arrives at their website. No matter how comforting or flashy the site is, customers are always on the lookout for signs that they could get burned. They may scrutinize your claims or look for fine print that reveals how your offers aren’t what they seem.

Oftentimes, they will look to outside resources before they can let down their guard. A study by Nielsen and the Better Business Bureau unveiled that over half (55 percent) of all U.S. adults online “always” or “often” used ratings and reviews to inform their purchase decisions. The trend deepens among those under 55, where only 7.5 percent of people say they “rarely” or “never” look at reviews.

Incorporating reviews right there on your web page immediately begins to chip away at their defenses. They can feel a tinge of relief knowing explicitly that your business has rewarded others for their trust. Evidence that people don’t regret spending their hard-earned money on your products or services can reduce the natural hesitation some people might feel.

You also potentially negate their need to go hunting for outside information on your brand. If they already see positive reviews or a live meter documenting your score aggregate for a site like Yelp, then they don’t need to go wading into all of the other reviews online. By extension, they are much less likely to encounter negative reviews that color your contractor business in an unfavorable light.

Even if someone does do their own homework and encounters a mixture of positive and negative reviews, their first impressions are already fairly rosy. Each negative reviewer must then make their case for why this positive first impression is wrong.

When incorporating testimonials and feedback on your web pages, be sure to use the following best practices:

  • Take a second to re-read the third-party reviews site’s policy on sharing reviews. They may have limitations on how you use them.
  • Always ask the reviewer for permission. Nothing hurts worse than having someone who praised your contractor business turn around and complain that their own words were used unethically.
  • Don’t take things out of context. Using an excerpt of a review is fine, but don’t cherry-pick statements that are actually out of color for the nature of the review as a whole. For instance, don’t take just the positive things someone conceded out a scathingly negative review.
  • Quote the person verbatim. Changing words around or using tricks like mashing two unrelated things together to make a sentence is absolutely deceptive and unethical. You may even be subject to FTC penalties.
  • Favor embedded reviews over text quotes. Most third-party sites actually demand that you use embedded features since these are more transparent. When you receive direct feedback, such as on a blog comment, try to embed the message itself when possible.

Share Interesting or Glowing Reviews to Social Media

marketing ideas for contractors

Getting people to leave reviews is hard work! Unless, of course, they had a bad experience. According to one study of 2,000 U.S. consumers, over half of people say they’re likely to publicly complain about a bad experience with a business—often resulting in a bad review.

A second study found that most people only leave a positive review if they were overwhelmed with how great their experience was. “If instead you had a moderate view, you’re likely to have left no review at all, finding it not worth the time and effort,” say the researchers in the Harvard Business Review.

So how do you encourage people to leave a review if they aren’t angry with you and they weren’t absolutely blown away? Simple: reward them with a public mention!

By sharing someone’s positive review online, you reinforce the behavior. You also encourage others who want public recognition and attention to leave reviews of their own.

Again, follow the guidelines above. Certain platforms like Yelp forbid copying and pasting review text, for example. You also absolutely need to secure permission from the person before sharing, even if their praise was a public comment on one of your social media or blog posts.

Let Reviews Inspire Your Content Marketing Strategy

Content should solve audience needs and conclude with a gentle promotional nudge towards your company. Treading this narrow path between information and promotion is admittedly difficult for most businesses. Seventy-nine percent of editors say they have to turn down guest blog pitches because they’re overpromotional.

The problem is that most businesses can’t find an angle. “8 Reasons Our Food Is Amazing” is something no one would want to click on! But “10 Keys to Improving Customer Service” can work, especially if you’re able to point to specific best practices you can use.

When writing these types of articles, starting with positive features of your business or product as a jumping-off point can lead to a disconnect. In other words, your business could be proud of something that no one really notices.

Instead, take a look at your own reviews to get inspired. Take a look at this review below to see what we mean.

fast contractor leads reviews

Here, you can see that the person cites six different positive reasons they love coming to the resort; it was clean, pet friendly, had great cabins, lots of site availability, a swimming beach and also a swimming pool.

Taking that list, you can simply write an article about the “6 Most Important Things to Look for in a Camping Resort.” Since you know people enjoy these things about your business, you can mention them honestly. You can also write while thinking about the perspective of a customer who has been to a campsite that is not clean or that regularly has overcrowded and overbooked sites.

Of course, you can also use negative criticism to inspire you. If you have had issues in the past with bad customer service, you can list “X Things We’ve Changed to Make Your Experience Better” to win people back.

Getting More Customer Reviews to Use in Your Content Marketing

contractor leads reviews

All of the strategies listed above depend on a constant, fresh stream of customer feedback. If your most recent review was from 2014, you may have a problem!

To counteract this issue, make leaving a review as convenient as possible. You can use third-party software tools to automatically send an email to someone and ask them for their review on your preferred platform. You can also leave a convenient link on your home page so that everyone can easily find their way to your review pages.

Don’t just encourage people to go on sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp, either. You can ask for more detailed feedback in an email or through an online form submission. Reach out to some of your most loyal or satisfied guests to see if they would take the time to write a one to three paragraph testimonial on your behalf.

You can use these longer reviews (with their permission) as quotes or embedded reviews framing your content or occupying your most critical landing pages.

Another surefire method to jog people’s memory is to use marketing collateral offered by review platforms both online and in real life. Place window decals on your entrance, or include a ready-to-print plaque right by your cash register.

Train sales associates and customer-facing reps to ask for feedback at the end of every interaction. Be aware of specific platform policies, though. For instance, Yelp demands that you only use certain brand materials in certain ways. They also have a strict policy where you can’t ask people to “review our business on Yelp!”

With just a small amount of effort, your content quality and credibility can be dramatically improved by using customer reviews in clever ways. Customers’ trust absolutely thrives on documented proof, and they like to see that their words matter when they have something to say.

Sharing their reviews is the best way to tell them “thank you” and that their opinion is important. That’s customer service, reputation marketing and content marketing rolled into one!



Let Your Customers Do the Talking: How to Use Reviews in Your Content Marketing posted first on Contractor Media - Internet Marketing For Contractors

Friday, August 10, 2018

How to Find a Content Writer Who Can Spin Your Blog Into Gold

Writing’s really hard. Even people who do it for a living admit that. Not only do you have to know how to string together sentences that keep people’s attention, but you have to make some sort of blasted “point” out of the whole thing. It’s maddening!

All silliness aside, content writing and blog writing are really complex acts that can appear deceptively simple on the surface. Structure and rhetorical knowledge can help make your point clear, but you also need to be engaging. Add SEO best practices to the mix, and you have even more issues to deal with.

Getting it right takes either a lot of practice or a lot of time spent revising. Even a business owner who happens to be an excellent writer will need help making it all happen on a deadline.

So that’s when you turn to outside help. It can be a freelance writer or a content marketing agency, but the goal is to find a writer (or several) who can meet your guidelines and turn things in on time.

Locating a writer like that is exactly as hard as it sounds! Luckily, there are five tips you can use to make your search easier and ensure you find just the writer you’re looking for.

Always Request Samples and a Trial Draft

seo for contractors

You can find great writers you enjoy working with no matter where you turn as long as you follow one simple rule: check out their writing before you commit. That means requesting samples of their prior work. It also means paying them to write a first draft of what you need that you may or may not ever use.

That’s right: you’re likely going to have to invest in crummy writing to find your diamond in the rough. Ideally, you’re paying several writers at the same time to write the same prompt or a similar one, so you can compare the talents of each person.

While it may seem like money down the drain to receive samples you won’t ever use, it’s better than the alternative of hiring a writer for a multi-blog project only to find out they aren’t a good fit.

Also, be very specific about the types of samples you request. You may wish to see live, published blogs, since these prove that a writer’s work actually gets used. Be warned, though: many freelancers are also ghost writers. You are either going to have to take their word for it that a sample with someone else’s byline is their work, or you will have to go through the effort of contacting the client and hoping they will reveal who wrote their blogs.

If someone sends you samples that you like but that don’t quite hit the mark, ask for more work! Far too many bloggers get passed up not because their samples weren’t good, but simply because they couldn’t read the mind of the job offerer as to what they were looking for.

Avoid Typical Job Listing Sites Since You Get What You Pay For

contractor advertising online

In the business world, quality and convenience don’t typically mix. If you want to find a patio chair at the same place you buy your kids’ breakfast cereal, you are going to have to lower your standards on how long that chair will last.

Similarly, if you go to the absolute first place you think of when looking to find your content writer, you’re going to end up with low quality.

The biggest problem? Labor pools from non-native English speakers. They may charge just a few cents a word, but their end product will likely be riddled with broken grammar and be all but incomprehensible. Since Google specifically recommends that you use proper spelling and grammar, having an unreadable blog likely works against your SEO and branding goals.

So as a rule, skip Craigslist, Monster and Indeed unless you really don’t know where else to turn. Definitely don’t just Google “content writer” and hire a person or company that ranks first. You want to know that you can get a decent level of quality, and sifting through the bargain bin is not a good place to find it.

Hunt Down Content Writers in the Spaces Where the Pros Lurk

Some of you are going to be frustrated by the above tip. “If I can’t just look for a content writer on Monster or Craigslist, where should I go?”

Well, our vocal and hypothetical friend, there are several specialty project-related websites where you can find freelancers:

  • ProBloggerProBlogger is dedicated to writers and editors, and it also has an amazing community of professionals. Posting your listing costs money, but you’re highly likely to get responses from mid- to high-level talent.
  • WriterAccess—WriterAccess straddles the line between full-service referral agencies we’ll mention below and simpler job listing sites. The site does a handy job of organizing writers by experience and quality, however, and you do get a personal account manager in the upper tiers.
  • Contently—Contently acts as a broker to find you the perfect writing talent or team for your project needs. Yes, that’s as expensive as it sounds, which is why the platform is mainly aimed at enterprises with larger content budgets.
  • Upwork—The world’s largest freelancer platform happens to be quite picky about letting job-takers aboard. That means you have access to a higher caliber of writers. Note that Upwork also allows agencies to apply to your project offers by default.
  • Guru—Guru is far less choosy about who it lets on its platform, so you will end up with applicants that may not have the firmest grasp of English. Nevertheless, the platform makes a name for itself by having an integrated project management and payment system.

There are dozens—if not hundreds—of other websites like these where you can post project listings and track down decent writers. These are just the top ones you might want to consider during your hunt.

However, you definitely don’t want to overlook your best option: getting referrals.

Ask Fellow Professionals for Referrals

best marketing strategies for contractors

Referrals are always your best source of freelance writer leads for a few reasons.

First, the best writers out there aren’t actively posting on or looking through job boards. They’re hard at work, hammering out content for their clients. But they may be persuaded to take on a larger workload if the details and the price are right.

Secondly, you can get personal testimonials from people you know and trust. Someone who can appear like a perfect fit online could turn out to be awful with deadlines or bad at following instructions.

Since not every business engages in content marketing, start by asking people whether they have a regular SEO or blogging contract. If the answer is “yes,” follow up by seeing what agency or writer they work with.

If their answer is “no,” then you may have to do some probing. Don’t be afraid of reaching out to a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend, though. Not every company works with content writers, but those who do will likely have strong opinions about who to recommend or avoid.

Track Down Popular Writers from Their Online Work

If you have the budget for working with a top-caliber freelancer, then the place you should start your search is on publication sites rather than a job board.

Start by taking a second to look back at enjoyable industry niche articles you’ve shared or read recently. Keep an eye out for pieces that get a high level of shares and don’t have controversial pushback from commenters. Then, simply find the writer’s byline.

Make a list of several authors using this method. Research to see if they have their own personal website and whether they are accepting freelance contracts. If they are looking for work, reach out to them with a “pitch” for your project needs. Preferably, this pitch includes an offer, details on the level of depth the work will require and a rough timeline for everything to be completed.

Since making a name for yourself as a professional writer these days is tough, expect some sticker shock if they reply! But if quality is really what you’re after, you can likely find a way to work long-term with someone whose reputation and published work you admire.

Work With a Reputable Content Marketing and SEO Agency

All of the tips above pertain to finding an individual, but you also have the option of hiring a content marketing agency to satisfy your SEO needs.

The same rules above apply: pay for samples, avoid bargain bin job listings and look for referrals. But your search should be easier, considering marketing agencies often do a decent job at marketing themselves!

Plus, you can work with several writers at once and have the security of a guaranteed contract. That means you aren’t left hanging if your writer leaves the project; you can simply work with someone else in the agency. You also have access to scale, meaning you can get a higher volume of projects accomplished at once that would normally take a single writer weeks.

In the end, the search for your content writer is all about finding a good fit and knowing where to look. If you fail at first, don’t get frustrated! There are tens of thousands of writers out there who can do good work but don’t have enough of it right now.

Good luck!



How to Find a Content Writer Who Can Spin Your Blog Into Gold posted first on Contractor Media - Internet Marketing For Contractors