As a massage therapist, client reviews are vital to the growth of your business, and online reviews are the new “word of mouth.” Without them, you won’t see the growth that’s possible with just a little effort. Keep reading to learn why online reviews are crucial to your success, and how you can generate them.

** Why You Need Online Reviews**

Your clients’ experience with you will make or break your practice. Because each patient has different needs, your ability to cater to those needs is the most important part of your job. If you do that, clients are sure to come back for more sessions and…drum roll, please…REFER new patients! So the next best way to grow your business is to provide opportunities for satisfied patients to leave online reviews. Consider these statistics from the 2012 Local Consumer Review Survey:

  • 52% of consumers say positive reviews encourage them to use a business.
  • 52% claim they trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family.
  • 76% of people seek online reviews to decide which businesses to use.
  • With numbers like that, it’s not hard to see the importance of online reviews. But what control do you have over this? Turns out, a lot.

    How to Control Online Reviews

    There are several things you can do to generate more online reviews. By completing the steps below, you’ll have a large database of awesome reviews.

    Take Advantage of Social Media and External Review Sites

    The most basic step to generating online reviews is to set up your presence on sites like Yelp! and Google Places, as well as social media sites. According to Socialnomics, 25% of results from online searches come from review sites, social media updates, and blogs. If that’s not convincing enough, eMarketer reports that 65% of consumers from ages 18 to 24 take information from social media into consideration when making a decision. To capitalize on this, dedicate space on your social media pages for reviews, improve your presence on review sites, and ask satisfied clients to leave feedback.

    Craft a Space for Reviews on Your Website                       

    Once a potential customer has found you online, she’ll most likely want to check out your website. Let’s face it: websites are the first impressions of the online world. They leave either a negative or positive impact on clients – both current and potential. Having a space on your where current patients can easily leave reviews and potential patients can easily read those reviews will bump up your number of positive impressions. Here’s how:

  • Create a “Testimonials” section.
  • Set up a form that makes it effortless for clients to leave feedback.
  • Link this form to your homepage so it’s easily accessible.
  • Not only does this generate good reviews, but it helps you avoid bad ones by providing an outlet for unsatisfied clients.

    Utilize What You Already Have: Email

    Creating an email campaign asking for reviews may seem a bit desperate, but with the right wording and the right timing, it’s an effective way to get what you need. Once a patient finishes a session with you, send a follow-up email asking for feedback. Again, make it a simple process – maybe a survey – so that it doesn’t take up too much time. Additionally, be sure there are links in your email signature to all the places people can leave reviews. This is a simple, one-time task that can have a lasting impact. Note: Remember to get permission to share clients’ feedback online.

    Make the Most of Your Blog

    User-generated content makes great material for blog posts. Once you’ve collected enough good reviews from clients, create a series of posts titled something like “Patient Reviews.” Following this method not only gives you content for blog posts, but it also allows you to incorporate reviews from your other online outlets like social media and your homepage. As a result, you’ll have a permanent spot of reviews that’s easy for clients to find.

    Customize Your Efforts to Your Point of Sale

    Just because you do business in person rather than online, it doesn’t mean you can’t encourage online reviews. In fact, most marketing professionals agree that asking for feedback right after a sale (or in your case, a session) is the best time to get great results. Clients are on a high from their massages, meaning any reviews they leave will reflect that feeling. Get the reviews you need by utilizing comment cards or other paper formats, or by verbally directing them to the review section of your website.

    The End Result

    With the methods outlined above, you’ll have a full array of awesome reviews to utilize in all your marketing efforts. It’s been proven that online reviews are crucial to consumers, so why not take advantage of that to grow your massage therapy business?

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