No matter what type of business you own or handle the marketing for, you must be cognizant of and attentive to your online reviews from customers.
Local businesses in particular need to recognize the importance of customer reviews to their growth and success. Good reviews are the foundation upon which a business’s reputation is built, and can often be a deciding factor that moves potential customers to make a purchase.
Many local businesses favor word-of-mouth marketing because they perceive it to be free. This is not entirely true, however; while it isn’t necessary to fork over cash for positive word-of-mouth, the truth is that these positive reviews must be earned.
Now that we’ve established the importance of online reviews, you may be wondering: how do I go about getting these positive reviews? First and foremost, you’ll need to claim all of the online directory listings for your business. If you need help identifying these directories, use a tool like Synup or Yext, which will point you in the right direction.
Once you’ve claimed and evaluated all of your directory listings, it’s time to get started.
1- First, you’ll want to monitor all of your reviews across the different directory sites. This task may sound intimidating because of the sheer number of review sites, but you can use FreeReviewMonitoring.com at no charge to monitor the major players: Foursquare, Yelp, CitySearch, Yellow Pages, and of course Google.
2- Ask your customers to review your business. Long before the days of the Internet, people were recommending businesses to their friends and associates. Most of the time, if a customer has had a good experience, they will be open to sharing about that experience. Good reviews are social proof that makes potential customers more comfortable doing business with you.
So how do you request that your customers review you?
- Ask! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with coming right out and asking for reviews, whether that is via your email newsletter, your social media accounts, etc.
- Put a QR code linking to your review site on postcards, flyers, posters, etc. – make it as easy as possible for customers to write reviews.
- Add a pop-up message to your website. Make sure that you don’t annoy people with your pop-ups – displaying them once every 7 or 30 days is plenty sufficient.
- Use check-in offers – reward customers who come into your place of business with an incentive that may prompt them to write a review. People love to earn perks!
3- Make sure that you solicit new customers for reviews at the time of purchase if they seem to be satisfied with their experience. Happy customers are more likely to write a review while they are still in the afterglow of a pleasant sales experience.
4- When you do receive a review, respond to it! Many businesses live in fear of negative reviews, but the reality is that if your business exists for any length of time, someone will be unhappy with you – it’s simply impossible to make everyone happy. If you receive a positive review, politely thank the customer for their business. If you receive a negative review, respond in a humble, reasonable manner – do not allow yourself to become emotional or defensive. Offer a sincere apology and try to make it right. That’s all you can really do.
5- Pay special attention to review sites where you have the most to gain or lose. Sites like Google and Yelp rank higher up on search engine results pages, so potential customers are more likely to find these reviews. Therefore, your listings on these sites should be prioritized. On the other hand, anywhere that you have negative reviews can hurt you, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Your best bet is to combat any negative reviews by accruing more positive ones. This way, prospective customers will see that the negative reviews are outliers that are not indicative of what it’s like to do business with you.
Online review management may seem daunting, but with careful cultivation your reviews can make a significant difference when it comes to new customer acquisition.