7 Steps for Driving Traffic from Angie’s List
You must have a solid public image to stay in business. These days, your public image is highly based on your Internet image. If you want to attract new customers, maintaining favorable ratings on consumer-review websites is a high priority, says Brenda Addison, vice president of Addison Auto Repair & Body Shop in Denver.
Angie’s List is among the most prominent review resources to monitor. The company, which launched in 1995 as a review site for the home improvement industry, now encompasses 720 service categories. It has more than 2 million paid subscribers and 1 million local business listings nationwide.
And Angie’s List members are using the service to find and review body shops. Cheryl Reed, the company’s director of communications, says there has been a 172 percent increase in members searching for body shops in the past five years, coupled with a 513 percent increase in members leaving reviews for body shops.
Your shop might already be listed there, so operators should pay close attention. Maintaining a favorable rating is not only key to protecting your online reputation, but also for generating customer leads.
“Angie’s List users are in buying mode; they’re preconditioned to spend money,” Reed says. “They’re already looking for your set of services, and they’re ready to hire someone.”
Prestige Auto Body in Miami, for example, has acquired up to six customers a month through Angie’s List since joining in 2010. But owner Hector Lopez says you can’t join the site today and expect a bunch of new business tomorrow. It takes time to drive eyeballs to the page, generate reviews, develop solid scores, and present an image that shows why you’re better than the competition.
Lopez, Addison and Reed offer seven keys to use the tool to your advantage.
#1: Get Registered
Reed says shop owners can proactively register their own business for free. Operators can visit the website, angieslist.com, and enter all basic information about their business.
Although shops can wait for Angie’s List members to list the business and all other basic information, Reed says registering yourself is the most recommended strategy. That’s the only way to ensure all information about your business is accurate so users can easily find you. In addition, waiting for a user to add you could cause missed sales opportunities among people searching for body shops today.
When registering your shop, Reed recommends filling out your profile as completely as possible. Include your name, location, phone number, email address, hours of operation, services offered, and business licenses. Also mention any services you don’t offer that some people might expect you to, such as glass work or mechanical repairs, to avoid misleading people about your offerings.
#2: Create an Impressive Page
Addison says some business listings on Angie’s List stand out more than others. When potential clients are looking at your page, make sure it includes all the right data and selling points to make a positive impression. She recommends treating the listing as a branch of your own website—an online resource that projects a highly professional, quality image.
Here are a few standard elements to include:
Community Connection: People like to see businesses with strong, long-standing histories in the community, Reed says. Highlight how long you’ve been in the area, and any involvement you have with your community and its residents.
Business Accolades. Outline any special business initiatives that set you apart: accreditations, awards, professional association or trade memberships, certifications, or work specialities. Addison for example, includes information about the shop’s A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and monthly AAA survey ratings.
Sustainable Processes. List any eco-friendly accreditations or practices. Although sustainable business efforts are quite common these days, Reed says it’s still a component of business that Angie’s List members find highly attractive.
Digital Media. Addison suggests uploading any appropriate photos, videos or audio messages for your business, such as “before and after” photos or short videos that provide a brief history and overview of the company and help to demonstrate the company’s culture.
#3: Generate Reviews
Reed says every business needs to generate a consistent number of reviews. The more reviews you have, the more credible you become. Static pages that lack recent reviews indicate a lack of business and cause users to skip over you.
To get started, Addison shared her shop’s customer database with Angie’s List. Doing so is not required, but Addison says the company uses customer phone numbers to generate a report of those who are already Angie’s List members. Angie’s List can send out emails directly to those individuals asking if they would write a review for the company.
“I did that right after registering my shop,” Addison says, noting she now has more than 75 reviews. “That’s a strategy to jumpstart you toward a substantial number of reviews.”
—Cheryl Reed, director of communications, Angie’s List
Addison also actively promotes the Angie’s List badge on the shop’s website, window signage and business cards to drive customer reviews.
#4: Engage with Reviews
Read every review to stay on top of potential issues at your business that should be addressed or corrected, Reed says.
And she recommends responding to every review—good or bad—because users want to see both sides of the transaction. In positive situations, it shows professionalism when companies respond with a simple, “Thank you for your business.” And in negative situations, users like to see how businesses work to resolve the issue.
“You have to be prepared to accept criticism in a reasonable fashion,” Reed says. “Put your best thoughts toward how you can respond to problems in the most effective way.”
Shops can sign up for free automatic alerts to easily monitor every new business review.
#5: Strive for Super Service
Generally, consumers look for Angie’s List’s “A” rated shops because they assume they’ll receive “A” level service, Reed says.
Businesses are scored on Angie’s List in several categories—price, quality, responsiveness, punctuality and professionalism. Users offer a 1–4 rating for each category, and the average numeric score is translated into a letter grade. Shops receive grades for individual reviews, as well as an overall average of all reviews that have been made for the company.
Shops with an overall “A” grade and average 3.5 numeric score can qualify to earn the Angie’s List Super Service Award, the organization’s highest recognition for companies with excellent customer ratings.
Only about 5 percent of Angie’s List businesses receive the award annually, and 268 body shops received the award in 2013.
“The service award allows you to differentiate yourself,” Lopez says, whose shop received the Super Service Award three consecutive years from 2011 to 2013. “You can advertise that to set yourself apart from the rest of the companies.”
Making it happen, he says, comes down to one thing—service. There is no way to cheat the system when it comes to maintaining a favorable rating. You need to provide consistently superb, impressive service in the shop from beginning to end to create memorable experiences and generate quality reviews and ratings.
“Understand the message that Angie’s List represents, and that your shop is held accountable for the work you do—for better or worse. If you’re not willing to commit to that message, provide excellent service, and bend over backwards to satisfy customers, you’re better off staying hidden,” Lopez says. “This is about your business perception, and the way customers feel when they leave. You need to feel confident about the way every customer is treated at your facility.”
#6: Utilize Advertising Services
Lopez says Angie’s List offers advertising services that can drive more attention to your listing. He pays roughly $1,500 a year to blast email advertising campaigns to groups of Angie’s List members to market the shop.
Lopez says he selected specific demographics and markets to target advertisements in order to hit a particular set of Angie’s List users. The company can provide market data to help make those decisions.
#7: Be an Expert
Angie’s List includes a program called “Angie’s List Experts.” Through the program, which is free to participate in, owners of highly graded companies can write short essays about their expertise. Those essays are posted and promoted on the site to give users advice from experts in the industry they’re searching for.
Reed suggests finding someone within your organization capable of writing short articles about things like driving tips, maintenance tips or estimate advice to help your shop become perceived as an expert in the trade.