Why Online Reviews Matter
Online reviews are an extension of your Brand’s Reputation. It’s very important to monitor and manage your reputation because a bad reputation, as you know, can affect your bottom line. According to Invesp,” consumers are likely to spend 31 percent more on a business with ‘excellent’ reviews. While a single negative review can cost a business roughly 30 customers.” That is a lot of potential revenue. And as you can imagine, that can very quickly start to snowball if you continue to get negative reviews.
Here are a few more statistics to highlight the importance of online reviews:
92% of consumers say they will use a local business if it has at least a five-star rating.
90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business.
88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family.
72% say that positive reviews make them trust a business more.
72% of consumers will take an action, only after reading a positive review.
Brands can increase customer advocacy by up to 25% by replying to a review or decrease advocacy by up to 50% by not replying to their reviews.
A single star increase in the Yelp five-star rating system can increase revenue between 5-9% (HBS)
Now that you know why it’s important to monitor and manage your online reviews, it’s also important to know where you should go to monitor them. The most common places that you can review a brand on, that rank well in SEO, are: Google My Business, Facebook, Amazon, Yelp, and Yellowpages.com. So these are the top places you should check.
Building a Foundation
Before you can start seriously managing your online reviews and reputation, you have to first have a more cohesive online presence. And in order to do this there are a few steps you must take:
1) Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
You want your content to take up as much of the Top 10 results on search engine results pages, for branded terms, as possible. You can do this through on-site SEO. Mainly by applying SEO best practices for your home page and the 5-6 most important sub-pages on your website.
2) Local Search SEO
There are two types of SEO, on-site and off-site. Just like it is important to apply on-site SEO, you should also apply off-site SEO best practices to create a cohesive online presence. You can do this by claiming and optimizing your Google Knowledge Panel through Google My Business. And optimizing your business on local business and search directories (ie. Yahoo, Bing, etc.).
3) Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
Augment your brand with a paid search campaign for your brand terms. This helps improve your organic click through rate and helps generate high quality leads.
4) Public Relations
You can do this partially for yourself by claiming and optimizing your brand’s social media profiles. Social media profiles tend to rank well in search engine results when people search for a brand, and thus are a great way to create a cohesive online presence. Public relations overall is meant to help augment positive results and sculpt your reputation.
5) Influencer Marketing
This one is similar to PR, and you can use this as needed. You should never pay for “good” reviews from influencers. However you can reach out to influencers that you feel represent your target audience, and send them some of your products and ask for their honest feedback. And if they do like your products, and they share that with their audience, this could mean great word of mouth for your reputation.
Growing Online Reviews
Once you have developed a cohesive brand presence by doing the five steps listed above, then you want to start actively seeking out reviews. Now it’s important not to try and rush this process through things like email blasts or incentivization, as those will hurt you in the long run. Instead you should try to build up your reviews naturally over time by:
Creating Rules of Engagement
Think about how and when are you going to ask for reviews? Review platforms actively monitor for any signs of “gaming the system”. They will flag a company that starts getting large volumes of reviews all at once. They also ding reviews left while customers are still on-site, because those reviews might have been incentivized. So think of how and when you can ask for reviews, so that they build up naturally over time.
Providing Regular Team Training
Make sure your team is on the same page about your brand’s approach to handling reviews. Do this regularly so that everyone is current, even when you get new employees or make changes in your approach or process.
Monitoring Your Reviews
There are some great tools for this including Google Alerts which lets you know when there are new listings and changes in Google search results for your brand. Mention is also a great free tool for monitoring your social media activity. Some other tools worth checking out are:
- Go Fish Digital
- Grade us
You should definitely use tools, like the ones listed above, to make monitoring more manageable but don’t over rely on them. You should also manually search about once a week. Just to double check if there are any reviews out there that the tools you may have missed.
Responding to Reviews
Once you have built up online reviews for your business, you’re ready to start managing them to curate your brand and help you drive revenue. Here are some tips for doing so:
Never Delete Reviews
It’s always better to respond to negative reviews, than deleting them, especially on platforms that you own. The only exception is when you get a review that is completely inappropriate (ie. swearing, threats). Just take screenshots before you delete them. This way you have proof, should you need it, that their review was deleted for breaking terms & conditions, and not because you’re trying to erase honest feedback.
If your website has review capabilities, make sure that you have terms and conditions for your reviews, to protect yourself and your reputation. Third party sites usually all have review terms & conditions, so you can usually flag inappropriate reviews.
Never Incentivize Reviews
Meaning never pay for reviews, directly or indirectly. Thanking people for their good reviews with gifts is a form of incentivization because it can change behavior. Meaning over time, this could lead to people leaving “good” reviews because they want the gift and not necessarily because they liked your products or services. You can and should thank customers for their positive reviews, but thank you’s should remain as a simple response on the review.
If you see a ridiculous or negative review, try to verify that it was left by a real person. You can check their credibility by looking at their other reviews if you suspect that they are not legit. Once you have verified that it is an authentic review, you should take action by addressing their concerns.
ALWAYS Respond to Reviews (Both Good & Bad)
Again, thank your positive reviews and promptly reply to negative reviews.
Take the Right Tone & Don’t Be Defensive
You can be genuine, or tongue in cheek, in your responses to reviews. Whatever makes sense for your brand voice. Just don’t be defensive.
Taking Ownership of the Issue
Now that you have a foundation of how to respond to online reviews in general. Let’s dive deeper into responding to negative reviews. And turning negative reviews into opportunities to further curate your brand’s reputation and drive revenue. To do this you need to:
Acknowledge the Complaint or Issue & Apologize
It’s not so much the words you say as much as the actions you take in response to reviews. If a negative review is bogus, it’s okay to call it out. Again, don’t do so in a defensive way, but you can very factually state why their complaint is not valid.
Acknowledging negative reviews is a great way to show your customers that you care, and are open to learning and improving to better meet their needs. You don’t have to have a “customer is always right” mentality because they’re not always right, but you do need to make your customers feel acknowledged and important.
Provide Contact Information to Get the Conversation Offline as Quickly as Possible
This shows customers that you are timely, that you care about their concerns, and that you are willing to have a direct relationship with them. It also helps ensure that you don’t have a back and forth conversation with an upset customer immortalized on the internet.
Fix the Issue and Communicate How You’ve Ensured it Won’t Happen Again
Doing this could take care of about 20-30% of your customers’ issues. Meaning, they will be satisfied knowing that you acknowledge their feedback and have made changes because of it. But for the rest of your audience you’ll need to do more to fix their issues with your brand.
Ask What You Can Do to Make It Better & Make Them Happy
For the rest of your customers, that may need a more specific resolution to solve their issue, it’s always best to ask them what they want first. If you jump straight into giving them things, it will usually either not be enough in their eyes causing them to get more upset, or way more than they expected – both ways costs you time and money. If you ask them directly, you can solve the problem much more efficiently. Asking them also makes them feel heard, and tailoring your response to their needs is a great way to turn a bad review into an improved updated review.
Once You Feel You’ve Adequately Addressed the Issue(s), Circle Back to Request an Updated Review/Rating
This demonstrates to other users that you have follow through and that you have changed for the better. And be sure to respond to their update as well.
Overview & Resources
So to recap, online reviews are important because they are an extension of your brand reputation and they have a direct correlation to how much revenue you can earn. To begin curating your brand to drive revenue from your online reviews, you want to build a broad foundation wit: On-Site SEO, Local Search SEO, PPC, Social Media, PR, and Influencer Marketing.
Once you have a cohesive online presence you can begin actively managing your reputation by growing your reviews. Once you have grown your reviews, you can use tools to help monitor them. And you can use them to help drive revenue by properly responding to them and taking ownership of any issues.
If you would like to learn more about how to manage reviews, here are some great resources:
- How to Respond to Online Reviews: Best Practices
- How to Grow Revenue via Online Reviews
- Online reputation management: going beyond search results
- Discover The Secrets to Effective Online Reputation Management, Part 1
- Discover The Secrets to Effective Online Reputation Management, Part 2
- Online Reputation Management: Seven Strategies to Build Your Brand
- The Ugly Truth About Online Reputation Management
- Online Reputation Management: The New PR
- Search Engine Reputation Management: The New PR Essential SERM Strategies & Tactics that Can Save Your ASSets
- Top 10 Review Websites to Get More Customer Reviews On
- 21 of the Best Online Reputation Management Tools
- How SMBs Can Boost Their Online Reviews Without Breaking the Bank
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