Today, more than ever, prospective customers do online background checks when considering a new business to buy from, even if recommended by a friend. According to a recent YouGov survey of 2,000 consumers under 35 years of age, 55% use social media to vent about a bad customer service. The percentage of customers venting online will only grow over time. It was in the teens just a few years ago. It doesn’t take the inventor of the internet, Al Gore, to know the fastest and most effective way to learn everything about a prospective supplier is to go online. Now let’s look at the prospect’s thought process and determine what you may want to consider to “cover all your bases”.

  1. Prospects look for a solid website with fantastic, relevant, current content. This can be an overwhelming task for some businesses, but you must have a foundation to post content quickly when you want. Your website content should showcase your strengths and expertise. If you don’t have it today you are either sunk or quickly sinking.
  2. Prospects look for customer reviews. 65% of consumers are more likely to buy from a business that has positive online review, according to the 2013 BrightLocals Consumer Survey. They look for online reviews on Google Plus, Yelp! Angie’s List, Apartmentratings.com or the dozen’s of other social media/review sites that pop up daily. An easy way to drive five star reviews is to build redirects into your online survey process. Make it easy for loyal customers to leave a review. 3% of those taking a survey will give you a nice plug if they see a nice landing page when they hit submit. Over time you will have a growing list of reviews helping both your online search ranking and buyer background checks.
  3. Prospects want references and to scan testimonials for familiar companies, people, industries, etc. You must have an easy way to post positive testimonials to your website continuously. Again, these can be gathered through your survey process. Overwhelm those looking at your website with dozens of testimonials a month that feed from your survey process. There is no reason why any size business can’t get at least 10 fresh testimonials per month with no effort by leveraging an online survey process. Don’t forget to put a date stamp on every testimonial when placing on your website. Let them know that the testimonials are not the cherry picked ones from 10 years ago, but instead recent customers that are WOWed.
  4. Prospects will throw out a wide net to their Linked-In or Facebook community asking for recommendations. Make sure you are participating in these places and have a nice company profile. If they put your name in the search for Linked In or Facebook they should see a nice profile with active participation.
  5. Printer buyers will type your company name or certain key words into the browser search bar to see what comes back. What will they find? You hope the search results reveal lots of positive references to your business, and the online reviews on Google Plus or Yelp! are right there on the first page. Make sure you preserve your brand with pushing five star reviews, posting relevant content to your website, and pushing out press releases or articles. Put your best foot forward. It is a new ballgame. Well a 5 year old ballgame that is not going to end soon.

Keep in mind you must stake claim to your Google Plus company profile and build out your company specific social media pages. For most businesses they put a radius around their operation and look for any prospects within that territory. Do the same thing online so prospects find you in that online radius. It is now the cost of doing business. If you can’t do it yourself, find someone. Many companies out there will manage this for you, but make sure to do a background check on them! Make sure they are covering all THEIR bases. Good luck.