Whether you own a small business or are the head of a large company, you’ll want to create a positive buzz about your brand.
According to Australian based digital marketing company, Clicks Marketing, online reputation management has become a service that more businesses and key individuals have been seeking assistance to solve. Especially when negative search results show for their business or personal names.
In the digital age, that means you’ll need to focus on online review management.
Having four- and five-star reviews for your business on popular internet platforms can help you increase brand awareness, improve your reputation, and generate leads in a sustainable way.
But if you’re just starting out or haven’t paid much attention to online reviews until now, you may feel completely overwhelmed.
Generating and managing online reviews may be a bit simpler than you think – but it still takes a considerable effort.
And if you assume that online reviews don’t actually matter that much, you may not see the value in spending your resources this way.
The reality, however, is that online reviews can have huge implications for your business. Your ability to stand out for the right reasons might hinge on what others are saying about your brand online.
In this post, we’ll discuss the power of online reviews and what you can do to harness that power for your brand’s benefit.
Why Do Online Reviews Matter?
Online reviews play a crucial role in a brand’s ability to reach new customers and build trust.
In fact, online reviews have virtually replaced personal recommendations for many consumers. Most say that they give online reviews just as much weight as (or even more weight than) the word-of-mouth recommendations they receive from friends and family.
Online review sites are also the first place consumers look to find out more about a business. Around 55% of customers who research a business before making a purchase turn to these sites. These channels actually provide more value to web users than the brand’s own website.
Why? Because these sites are seen as impartial. Although it’s important to have testimonials and useful information on your business website, the feedback shared from real customers on platforms like Yelp, Facebook, or Google My Business is priceless.
These customers are voicing their support for your organization without really anything to gain. Because they’re voluntarily leaving reviews on a neutral platform, they’re seen as trusted resources – and that can behoove your business in the long run.
Over half of online buyers and approximately 40% of brick-and-mortar customers will read online reviews before they make a purchase. And since customers who research ahead of time will typically spend more, it makes sense that you’d want to have a strong online presence on these review websites.
Don’t forget that having a great rating on GMB, Facebook, or Yelp can help drive traffic to your website. Even if you don’t sell products or services online, review sites can be a highly effective lead generation tool for your brand.
On the flip side, businesses that lack online reviews can find it difficult to grow. If a business has no reviews, too few reviews, or too many negative reviews, customers won’t be as inclined to take a chance on the brand. At a time when the competition is so stiff, it’s likely that consumers will seek out a business with a more established reputation instead.
Suffice it to say, online reviews can have a big impact on your business. In order to adeptly manage your brand reputation, you’ll need to learn how to generate online reviews and respond effectively to those reviews.
If you adopt the following approaches, you’ll be in a better position to boost your brand perception online and build your customer base.
How Can Your Business Effectively Manage Online Reviews?
Now that you understand the power of online reviews, it’s time to create a strategy that will help you more effectively manage those reviews.
Here are just a few strategies you’ll want to implement to build your brand reputation through online review management. Let’s start with a number of ways to encourage customers to share their feedback:
Ask in Person
One of the easiest ways to encourage customers to share their support for your business is to mention it to them during an in-person visit or transaction. You can also put up signage or physical reminders that can showcase the power of online reviews.
Although customers will often be eager to leave a review after a bad experience, they’ll easily forget to do so when they’ve had a positive interaction with a brand. By voicing the impact reviews can have on your business during their visit, that can translate into action once they leave your establishment.
Send Out Emails
Email blasts are another great way to ask for customer reviews. You can send out an automated email after a customer has made a purchase, for example. Alternatively, you can include a link to your profile on Yelp or to your Facebook reviews in a monthly newsletter. Since the recipients will already be at their computer or using their smartphone, they’ll be even more likely to follow through.
Post Social Media Reminders
Social media can allow you to connect in a personal and consistent way with your target audience. Most consumers will admire a brand that chooses to be transparent and personable, so there’s nothing wrong with creating a post that will help your customers see just how important their reviews are. You can even include a direct link to the review site in your Facebook post, tweet, or Instagram profile to make it easier for followers to navigate to the right place.
Add Links On Your Site
Most business websites have links or buttons that drive traffic to their social media pages. But it’s also a good idea to add a link to your profiles on review sites like Yelp, Angi, or other industry-specific platforms. You don’t necessarily need to put these links front and center on your homepage, but keeping them in your footer or on a contact page can serve as an important reminder to visitors to share (or read) these reviews.
Remind Them on Customer Calls
If you run a B2B organization or you handle customer service inquiries for your business, the phone calls you have with consumers can be another option for review generation. You can close out a call with a simple reminder or request for a review; simply state that if they’re happy with their experience with you, sharing their feedback on Yelp or your Google My Business profile can help your brand continue to grow. While you don’t want to put them on the spot, sharing this information at the end of the interaction can encourage them to take immediate action.
Once you start to see the new reviews roll in, you might think your work is done. But review management is essential. That requires you to respond to all reviews (both positive and negative!) in a timely manner and in a way that makes the customer feel valued.
Unfortunately, many business owners do their brands a disservice by failing to manage their reviews in the right way. Here are a few rules you’ll want to keep in mind:
Respond Promptly: You should never rush to respond to your reviews, as this rarely results in a helpful interaction. However,it’s best to post a reply within 24 to 48 hours. This window will provide you with an opportunity to improve the customer relationship and show that you care about their experience while alleviating the pressure to respond within minutes. Waiting any longer than a day or two will lessen your chances of making an impact, so make sure to stay on top of these platforms and get notified of any new entries.
Leave the Emotion Out: This is especially important if you’ve received a negative review of your business. It’s difficult to not take criticism personally, but you need to make every attempt to leave your emotion out of it. Resist the urge to get defensive; if you feel yourself starting to respond in anger, close the browser window and take some time to calm down before you formulate a response. Even if what they’ve said is hurtful to you, remember that how you respond will usually matter more than what the review actually says. Instead of taking the feedback as a personal attack, use this as a chance to showcase your customer service skills. Cooler heads will always prevail.
Help the Customer Feel HEARD: When responding to reviews or any other kind of feedback, keep the acronym “HEARD” in mind. Hear the story uninterrupted, Empathize with the reviewer, Apologize for the circumstances that occurred, Resolve the problem, and Diagnose what went wrong to avoid mistakes in the future. Remember to practice active listening, even when you’re reading online reviews, to ensure the customer feels valued and that you’re taking their concerns seriously.
Be Careful About Review Removal: Say an irate individual leaves a bad review for your business. In some cases, the feedback might be warranted. In others, their account of the situation that took place is inaccurate. It could even be completely fabricated. If you can confirm that the reviewer is not a customer of yours or that they’re lying about their review in any way, you may be able to petition the platform to remove it. Unfortunately, there are people out there who will try to harm a business in this way. By all means, make an effort to have these reviews taken down. However, the majority of negative reviews businesses receive are legitimate. You shouldn’t try to remove honest reviews or comments, even if you don’t agree with them. Attempting to remove or hide reviews just because they’re unpleasant won’t help you build trust. Instead, use those reviews as motivation to turn things around.
Generating and managing online reviews will prove paramount for the success of your business. If you want to improve your brand perception and build customer loyalty, these efforts should be included as part of your marketing strategy. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to boost your brand reputation and trust with your customers for long-term growth.