Online reviews are one of the few ways consumers can tell the world about your business. Though consumers do most of the work in writing reviews, it’s important for businesses to play an active role in reading, reacting, and responding to these reviews – of all kinds.
And here’s why.
In today’s age of instant information, the ability to research any product, service, or business is easier than ever with only the tap of a few buttons. Consumer influence, or the power a customer has in persuading other potential customers, plays a critical role in helping someone choose your product, business, or service. This makes reviews more important today than ever before.
Research shows that 93% of consumers say online reviews have an impact on their purchasing decisions, either positively or negatively.
The funny thing is, a business can talk about its brand all day long, but personal recommendations, testimonials, and reviews are what help consumers consider the brand trustworthy. People trust others that take time to write a review. Something, either good or bad, caused them to type up their thoughts and share them with the world. There’s weight in that.
Time has also taught consumers to not believe everything that they read; a business boasting a 5.0 rating with many reviews can be looked at just as poorly as a business with a 2.0 rating. If you’re having your friends or employees write puffed-up reviews to increase your rating, most people can see through that tactic clearly, and it will have the opposite desired effect.
The number of reviews a business has, regardless of star rating, also plays a role in whether consumers find you reputable. On the other hand, businesses without reviews can be seen as risky or untrustworthy, so putting a plan in place to get continuous consumer reviews should be a priority for every business’ marketing. They are an important tool to have access to.
Where Reviews Should Live
Surprise, surprise, Google reviews come in at the top of the list for priority and visibility. One simple search for your business and everything about you shows up, with reviews and rating being one of the key data points. Having positive reviews helps increase your E-A-T ranking: Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. This in turn increases your local search rankings in the Google algorithms. Doesn’t that sound yummy? And higher search rankings means less scrolling to find you, something everyone loves.
Though Google should be your first focus for requesting reviews, monitoring, and responding, don’t forget other third-party sites. Other well-known sites like Yelp, Angi, Better Business Bureau (BBB), and even social platforms like Facebook offer review and recommendation options for its users, and they are also heavily used. It’s highly likely you didn’t have to Google any of those names because they’re so popular (see what we did there?).
But if you didn’t know (and that’s okay too) Yelp is usually for location-specific searches; Angi focuses on a type of business search specifically in the home improvement sector, BBB is seen as an extremely trustworthy business source; and Facebook is used by consumers who want to tell their friends about an experience with a business in a more casual setting.
So, How Do You Actually Get Reviews?
That’s a million-dollar question – sometimes literally. It’s common knowledge that consumers are more likely to share any bad comments or experiences before the good. It’s just a fact of life. But the thing about common knowledge is that it’s…common. Your average consumer also understands that too.
Now, that’s not permission to ignore bad reviews, but what it does mean is that it’s important to have a plan for a continuous stream of reviews to ensure fresh content with good reviews mixed in. You’re probably reading this and wondering how you even go about getting these reviews. Here’s the secret: The best method? Just ask.
There are a few ways to go about this, and if you’ve built up good relationships with clients and customers, it shouldn’t be scary! If customers like your product or service, they’ll tell people about it. And if your business uses a sales team, have them ask at the end of the transaction. It’s a great way to build this right into your process, ensuring further success.
When communicating digitally, a follow up email is another great opportunity to ask for a review. And having the review process be as simple as possible will increase the chances of getting a review. Too many steps will almost always deter a person from leaving that review.
You may be thinking of incentivizing your review process. One word: don’t. This method is definitely not recommended by us. First, it erodes trust when you disclose that the reviewer received an incentive, and second, Google does not allow it. And you do not want to be in trouble with Google – trust us!
Responding is More Important Than You Think
Not every business is perfect, so when those few less-than-pleasant reviews inevitably come in, take the time to respond (positively, of course). This simple step can easily convey to viewers that you’re taking the time to read negative feedback and take it into consideration.
Once a business puts the plan in place to get reviews, that isn’t the end of the story. Reviews need to be acknowledged so that consumers can see the brand is listening. Most companies will respond to the negative comments, but don’t forget to respond to the positives as well! It’s fun to engage with people who genuinely enjoy your business! This shows the consumer you are grateful for their business and are committed to the community you serve.
Responding to negative comments can be tricky but is necessary. If there is a way to fix the problem, offer them the solution. Studies show 62% of consumers will give a brand a second chance if they are able to solve the problem. And negative reviews can be changed by the consumer, but if they aren’t willing to change it, other consumers will still see you attempted to solve their issue, building better rapport and trust in the brand for attempting to fix what initially wrong.
Use Reviews You Worked Hard to Collect
Positive reviews and testimonials are marketing gold and should be used as such. Incorporate the reviews on your website, social media, and other advertising to “Tell The World Your Story.” Ask your marketing partner, like us, about other opportunities to use the reviews to stand out from your competition.
A business’ reputation matters now more than ever, and former and current consumers play an active role in creating one. Keeping a pulse on what consumers are saying about you will not only help guide your business towards success, it will also drive more engagement and insight. The more time you put into the review process as a whole, the more you’ll have to work with!