Today’s consumers are increasingly relying on reviews to make decisions about the products and services they are thinking about purchasing. Local business owners are aware that positive online reviews are great for their business but perhaps not the extent.
- 92% of consumers rely on reviews when making a local buying decision.
- 88% of buyers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from people they know.
Building a list of reviews of your business is a great way to offer 3rd-party proof that your business delivers on expectations. Furthermore, it shows that customers are not only satisfied but are prepared to write about it. Online feedback provided by real consumers are treated as extremely important by the search engines. Google for instance, ranks businesses based on customer engagement (in part), and displays their web pages accordingly in local search results. Generating reviews on a regular basis doesn’t just happen by magic. Businesses need to take action and apply a positive approach to ensure they receive genuine, balanced feedback.
Why are online reviews important?
With fake news all the rage these days, people need reassurance when they are searching for products and services online that they can receive good value for their money. People are looking for a reason to choose your business over your competition, so you need to give them a good one.
Using traditional SEO tactics can get you higher in the search engine results, but online reviews will help you close the deal. Online reviews are modern day referrals, so having a good range of authentic reviews on your website for your potential customers to see is a great way to stand out from your competitors, especially if they are not doing the same. If the comments are convincingly genuine, people will trust what is said about you more than what you say about yourself.
So how can you get online reviews?
The way to get online reviews for your business is to take action and to make it simple for people to respond. Some tactics include:
- Send personal emails to your customer list (not mass campaigns from a CRM system). You can use a template but make sure the message is personalised. And don’t send them out all at once. Spread them out over a few weeks to make sure you get a gradual uptake. Search engines can be suspicious of websites that suddenly get a raft of online reviews.
- Add links to your Google My Business profile somewhere prominent on your website to make it easy for people to find you on and leave a review.
- Modify your email signature section by adding a link to a review site to prompt the action desired. You could do the same for your business cards, invoices and thank you responses if you are selling online. The more channels you provide the more likely you are to get consistent responses.
Pay it forward. Consider writing genuine reviews of businesses you use or partner with to get reciprocal reviews. Do this on local directory sites and Google My Business as well.
Is it important to manage your online reputation?
Absolutely. In fact it’s vital that you understand how important it is to keep an eye on what people are saying about your business and you must be prepared to respond or react. Some golden rules to remember:
- Under no circumstances write fake reviews or encourage others to do so.
- Never buy reviews from people or groups.
- Always respond to people who review your business. A simple thank you will suffice for positive ones.
- Every now and then ask a reviewer to explain in more detail about their experience. Just be prepared for no further response. This is best done very soon after the submission and if you know the reviewer well.
- For negative comments, address the issue in a professional manner and recommend the person contacts you directly (offline) to work things out. This shows visitors that you care and are respectful even with negative reviews. Read more about how to handle negative reviews.
- Don’t get upset by negative reviews. People’s perceptions are unique and you can’t always know what they the expected. Sometimes they are just plain wrong. Don’t get involved in public slanging match threads.
Receiving a range of reviews (even negative ones) helps to convey a sense of authenticity. 50 five-star reviews with no lower scores or less than glowing comments looks a bit suspicious to most people and the all important search engines.
What else can you learn from online reviews?
If you take a close look at the text of comments, you can learn things about your business from your customers particularly after you have a fair sample. Are there themes such as “good after sales service”, “friendly staff” or “quick service” regularly expressed? Use these in future marketing campaigns and refer to the comments to build trust.
Unhappy customers may point to things happening in your business that you weren’t aware of. Use the complaints to remove problems and improve service in the future. You can’t ignore the benefits of receiving online customer reviews if you want your business to be successful in a world that is moving evermore online.