What are patients seeing when they search locally, and how can you get online reviews to bring them in the door
When looking for a restaurant, plumber, auto mechanic or hair salon nearby, what do potential customers do? Chances are they just pull out their smartphone and do a quick “near me” search, then make a choice based on what people write in online reviews.
The local search boom has forever changed how people find local businesses when they’re looking to spend money, and chiropractic practices are no exception. More people use Google Maps to find local health care and medical businesses than ever before, which presents an incredible opportunity to attract more customers by simply taking control of an office’s online presence.
But what aspects of an online presence are most important? When would-be patients are searching online, what are they looking for? And when thinking of how to get online reviews, how do you know if investing time and effort into making your business look good online will translate into more patients and increased profits?
To find these answers, let’s dive into the key findings from a comprehensive report on how to get online reviews, How Online Reviews Impact Small Business Revenue, including health care providers like chiropractors.
DCs with more reviews make more money
The most striking finding in the analysis of chiropractic businesses is that there’s a linear correlation between more reviews and higher revenue. The average chiropractor in a national sample had about 35 reviews across all sites, such as Google, Yelp and Facebook. Practices whose reviews exceed this average make 48% more, while those with fewer reviews make 17% less, on average.
To really illustrate the point — practices with 0-5 reviews make just $112,000 annually on average. At the higher end, practices with more than 150 reviews make almost $350,000 per year. That’s more than a 200% increase in revenue.
It’s important to note this looks at correlation, not necessarily causation. This gap in revenue could be caused by more established or popular practices just happening to have more reviews.
But it could also be true that potential patients use reviews as a signal for where they’ll take their business. Whatever the reason, it’s objectively clear that businesses with more reviews tend to make a lot more money.
How to get online reviews consistently — recent reviews matter
So, if you encourage a bunch of patients to post reviews, you’re set for life, right?
It turns out that reviews have a shelf life, and the fresher the better for patients deciding where to take their bad backs and achy joints. The research reveals that the average chiropractor receives about four new reviews every three months. That’s not a huge number, but there are huge consequences for not getting there.
Practices that fall below the “fresh reviews” threshold of four per quarter make 5% less than average, whereas above-average review-getters make 41% more. At the extremes, practices with no reviews in the past three months make just $136,000 annually compared to $263,000 for those with more than 15 — or double the sales.
This makes sense when you think about it from the consumer’s standpoint. When someone’s creaky back sends them onto Google to look for relief, they first look at what options are out there and then evaluate which one to choose. If a chiropractor has good reviews but none are recent, the patient is left to wonder if they are getting a current view of the experience. They are more likely to choose an alternative with fresher information. Examples of recent media coverage or promotions also make it evident you are active.
Online reviewers are very kind to chiropractors
The big practical takeaway when talking about how to get online reviews is that chiropractors need to get a steady stream of authentic reviews from real patients. Some worry that this opens up the business to the scrutiny of unfair negative reviews, but chiropractors need not worry.
In general, American consumers are far more likely to post positive feedback than negative in their online reviews, according to the data. This is especially true for chiropractic businesses, which are one of the highest-reviewed business categories.
In fact, 97% of chiropractors have star ratings of four and above, and 49% have five-star ratings. In addition, nearly nine in 10 chiropractors have 90% positive reviews. When thinking about how to get online reviews, generally happy patients post happy reviews.
Respond to online reviews
Oddly, 71% of chiropractors have never responded to any online patient reviews. This is a huge missed opportunity, since practices that respond to at least half of their reviews make 40% more than those who never respond.
It’s understandable that health care practitioners like chiropractors might be cautious about engaging with patients in public forums, given HIPAA considerations. But there are some very simple steps you can take to stay HIPAA-compliant while responding to online reviews, such as:
- Don’t use language that indicates the patient even visited your local business premises;
- Don’t use any details or specifics, even if the patient mentions them in their own review;
- Don’t argue with negative reviews or egg-on further online discussion;
- For the sake of your reputation and revenue, take the first step and write a professional, cordial response;
- Do keep things general and policy-based;
- Do offer to take the conversation offline.
Local search has made it easier than ever for patients to find and patronize local chiropractic providers. Make it easier for them to find and choose you when they search by getting more reviews and responding to those you already have.
BRAD PLOTHOW is vice president of brand & communications at Womply, a CRM and marketing software company serving hundreds of thousands of small businesses. Learn more at womply.com.