Before you hire a lawyer or begin seeing a new doctor, do you look at their reviews online?
If you’re like most people, the answer is a resounding Y-E-S. But why do their online reviews matter? After all, you can easily learn where they went to school, the credentials they’ve earned and their years of experience.
What these facts don’t tell you, of course, is if you’re a good fit to work together. This is where online reviews truly shine. By creating a human connection and emotional bond with people sharing their own personal experiences, you’ll feel much more confident you’re choosing the right professional for your individual needs.
As a financial coach or counselor, are you making the most of online reviews to grow your practice?
Just like doctors and lawyers, financial coaches and counselors are also trust-based professionals. Online reviews from your current and past clients establish a level of trust and confidence that facts about your education and credentials simply can’t provide.
In this article, we discuss the reasons why online reviews are so important in today’s world, the benefits of leveraging online reviews to grow your financial coaching or counseling business, and tips to help you get started.
People are Going Online to Find and Hire Professionals
Americans have the internet at their fingertips, whether at their desk or in the palm of their hand. And when it comes to deciding where to have dinner or researching professionals to hire, online reviews have replaced personal recommendations and word of mouth referrals as the primary source of influence.
In fact, 83% of people in an NRC Health research study said they trust online ratings and reviews more than personal recommendations, even when it comes to choosing a doctor.
As a financial coach or counselor, individuals thinking about hiring you can make more informed and educated decisions by reading reviews written by your current and past clients, peers and other people who know you well. Even a single online review can significantly impact someone’s hiring decision.
Online Reviews Meet Emotional Needs
Imagine you’re someone in need of a financial coach or counselor. Maybe you’re leaving your long-time employer for a new job and want to make smarter financial decisions with your increased take-home pay. Or you’re worried you don’t have a sufficient emergency fund in place if rumors of imminent layoffs at your current company come to fruition. Or perhaps you need help preparing a family budget with a baby on the way. You’re nervous, a little afraid, and definitely concerned.
With a couple clicks, you’re now online reading reviews written by clients of financial coaches and counselors who were once in your shoes. Suddenly, you’re feeling much more at ease. Your anxiety begins to subside as you realize other people with circumstances similar to your own gained relief when they found the right financial professional for their unique needs. And now it’s your turn. Energized and feeling confident based on the reviews you’ve read, you discover a financial coach or counselor who is clearly trusted by their past clients and may be a good fit for you. With one click, you book an introductory call on their calendar.
People rely on a combination of facts and emotional cues when choosing to hire a financial coach or counselor. As a financial professional, your education, credentials, and years of experience are facts that help them judge your credibility. And it’s your online reviews that build trust and satisfy their emotional needs, increasing their confidence in contacting and hiring you.
Online Reviews Help You Rank Higher in Search Results
You might be wondering if an online review will impact how prominently you rank in Google search results. Thanks to E-A-T and YMYL, the answer is most definitely YES.
Positive online reviews increase your E-A-T, a term used by Google that stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness, and influences how you rank in search results. And YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) is how Google refers to websites that could have a significant impact on the quality of people’s lives, including their finances.
As a financial coach or counselor, your website is already held to higher E-A-T and YMYL standards by Google than sites on topics of less importance to people’s lives. By incorporating online reviews into your marketing plans, you send powerful signals to Google’s algorithms and human quality raters helping them rank higher in search results.
While it’s smart to include reviews from your clients on your own website, it’s also important to collect and display reviews elsewhere on the internet, as Google instructs its human quality raters to ‘look for outside, independent reputation information’ about you and your website. By inviting clients to write reviews on reputable third party websites like Google, Yelp, or Wealthtender, you’re providing Google’s algorithms and human quality raters the signals and knowledge they need to boost your trust score and send more prospects to your website.
Getting Started: Asking for Reviews
Once you’ve decided to make online reviews a part of your marketing strategy, it’s important to think about who you’ll ask to write reviews and how you’ll ask them.
When you’re just getting started with online reviews, you’ll naturally think about your current and past clients. But you’ll also benefit from asking for reviews from peers and other people who know you well. While client reviews often help future clients better understand what to expect when working with you, reviews from others who know you well may help people learn more about your areas of expertise and character.
For example, consider the positive impact of reviews written by experts and professionals in your niche who can attest to your specialist knowledge. Or reviews written by leaders of non-profit organizations where you volunteer, praising your dedication to the community.
Reviews from non-clients can be especially valuable for financial coaches and counselors who recently transitioned into private practice from an employer, and for younger coaches with few clients, but lots of credible references.
There are several ways you can incorporate asking for reviews into your daily routine. For example, here are a few ideas and best practices you might consider:
- Update your email signature to include a link to your profile page on an online review platform, or your website, where clients can write a review
- Add a new section to your newsletter that includes a link to write a review on your profile page of an online review platform and/or your own website
- Create a flyer with instructions on how someone can write a review for you and make it accessible to clients who meet with you in person
- Create a version of your business card with a QR code that links to your profile page, and to periodically share it with non-clients – it’s an easy way to ask for a review at the right moment
- If you offer one-time coaching or project-based services, incorporate a request for a review into your workflow at the conclusion of each project
Promoting Your Practice with Online Reviews
After you’ve begun collecting reviews online, you’re all set to turn your reviews into a powerful source of new referrals. And without lifting a finger, the positive reviews you’re collecting online are already sending signals to search engines like Google that you’re trustworthy and deserving of increased visibility in search results.
Consumers looking to hire professionals in trust-based industries want to know they’re making the right decision, and your online reviews offer the social proof they need to choose you over another financial coach or counselor. In fact, a popular online review platform for lawyers found that those with at least five reviews on their platform achieved four times the engagement compared to lawyers with just one review.
Here are a few suggestions to help you promote your online reviews to increase their client-attracting power.
Promote Your Reviews on Social Media
When it comes to popular social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, you’ll have opportunities to promote your reviews, though the character count limitations and other constraints means you may have to get a little creative.
Magnify the Impact of Your Reviews on Google and Yelp
While any positive reviews you receive on Google and Yelp offer SEO benefits and increased visibility among consumers who find them, you’ll unlock substantially greater value by republishing them on platforms like Wealthtender and your own website, sites where consumers are often closer to making a hiring decision. Be sure to ask for the reviewer’s permission first.
Promote Your Online Reviews Offline
Just because your reviews are written online, doesn’t mean they have to stay there. Consider creating a printed flyer or brochure with a curated selection of your online reviews. Insert this resource into any materials you give prospective coaching clients and/or encourage your current clients to share it with people they think could benefit from hiring you.
Host Community & Online Education Events
If you periodically offer free personal finance education through webinars, at a local community college, or at a financial literacy organization, your reviews can help you instill trust with attendees who may be interested in working with you. For example, you can include a link to your reviews with the event invitation to build credibility; distribute a flyer at the event showcasing reviews relevant to the session topic (include a QR code linked to your reviews online); or send a post-event email linking to your reviews.
- Check out articles like this one discussing the benefits of working with an Accredited Financial Counselor.
- Download our 24-page playbook that expands upon the tips and suggestions introduced in this article. You can click here to instantly download the playbook (PDF).
- Take advantage of our special lifetime deal for AFCPE Members – an opportunity to join Wealthtender for a one-time payment of just $97. This is a limited time offer and you can learn more by visiting this link.
Guest contributor: Brian Thorp
Brian Thorp is CEO and founder of Wealthtender. He and his wife live in Texas, enjoying the diversity of Houston and the vibrancy of Austin. With over 25 years in the financial services industry, Brian is applying his experience and passion at Wealthtender to help more people enjoy life with less money stress.
Have questions about using online reviews to attract new clients and grow your business? Email Brian at email@example.com.