How to get better online reviews for your lab

December 18, 2013

Experts abound across the Internet in the modern digital culture. It seems as though anyone and everyone can set up a website and proclaim to be the latest and greatest authority around.

Experts abound across the Internet in the modern digital culture. It seems as though anyone and everyone can set up a website and proclaim to be the latest and greatest authority around.

What is often missing from these so-called experts is that invaluable commodity that cannot be bought-trust.

For dental technicians and lab owners, building trust in the community and the industry as an expert, whether online or outside the lab’s front door, is a hard-won battle, and never has this been truer than in today’s world, where online marketing-and online reputation management-dominate.

If anyone can purchase a domain name and create a blog or website, how do consumers filter through the “experts” to find what they are actually looking for? As customers-and prospective customers-increasingly turn to the Internet when searching for laboratory information, how can you enhance your online presence and come across as true, genuine, knowledgeable oral health care experts? The answer is putting maximum efforts into building trust online, and garnering positive online reviews to provide a solid foundation.

Providing social proof

Consumer review websites, such as Yelp!, Google+ Local, and Healthgrades.com, among countless others, play a dominant role in the research that dentists might  conduct online when searching for a lab. According to a 2012 survey by SearchEngineLand, almost three-quarters of consumers trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations.

As a result, these online review sites present an essential opportunity for labs today to reach clients before they ever pick up the phone to contact a lab, and to reinforce word of mouth referrals as well.

Sites such as Yelp! and Google+ Local automatically create a profile for most businesses based on information gathered from online directories, and the data listed may or may not be accurate, so lab owners/technicians must claim their existing profiles and update them with the current contact information, your logo, as well as hours, a website link and photos and videos of the staff and its services. Typically, there is a link labeled “Is this your business?” or “Claim this profile” that can be used to log into the site and verify ownership of the business to make these key edits and upgrades.

When potential customers are able to find accurate information about your lab and read a history of reviews, (whether those reviews are truly representative of the lab or not) they feel as if they are getting a real sense of the overall experience.

With these positive online reviews in place, you don’t have to figure out how to communicate to prospective customers why your lab is their best option-your existing customers are doing it for you via social media.

Authenticity is key

It’s important to note that authenticity is paramount when it comes to online reviews. Internet users are savvy, and while they may rely on the opinion of complete strangers in researching a dental laboratory on websites like Yelp!, they are also on the lookout for anything disingenuous.

The websites that host these reviews also work hard to maintain their own credibility by using algorithms that analyze user data, studying unique identifiers like IP addresses and flagging accounts created for the purpose of writing a single review to ensure “fake” reviews get filtered out. In fact, nothing destroys trust online faster than the laboratory creating multiple accounts to try to post reviews, even if they contain legitimate testimonials from real clients.

Client reviews and online marketing strategy

There is truly no higher seal of approval than a public testimonial from a satisfied client. As online reviews become more and more pervasive-and more trusted-building a reputation through this medium will become a make or break proposition for many dental labs when it comes to attracting new clients.

Building trust online is not an easy process, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight, but the optimal time for dental lab owners to start cultivating a positive online reputation-and positioning themselves as experts-is now. Those of you who make the commitment today to foster a strong history of online reviews will create unstoppable momentum for your lab’s online marketing efforts for years to come.  

Naomi Cooper is President & Founder of Minoa Marketing and serves as Chief Marketing Consultant for Pride Institute. She is a respected dental marketing consultant, author, speaker and industry opinion leader who co-teaches Pride’s groundbreaking marketing course, “The New Rules of Dental Marketing.” Naomi can be reached via email at naomi@minoamarketing.com, and she blogs regularly at minoamarketing.com. Photo: Yagi Studio / Getty IMages