Why do online reviews matter?
You already know that online reviews are feedback left by past customers on websites, but why should you even pay attention to them? There are hundreds of reasons why online reviews make a powerful online marketing tool. Most important of all is customer relationship management. Client satisfaction is the cornerstone of the success of any business venture regardless of its size.
Before online reviews there were testimonials, an affidavit of a business’s quality of service. In today’s fast paced internet world most people (91%) regularly or occasionally read online reviews. Online reviews have become the new word-of-mouth communication tool for customers among each other.
Search engines that cater to these very same customers have noticed how much emphasis users place on reviews. Therefore, they have enacted algorithm changes to the way they present search results to favor better reviewed websites. Online reviews are invaluable to Search Engine Optimization, especially to small businesses.
Top 5 best online review websites
If you are a small local business, like Webtivity!, you don’t have a huge amount of resources to begin with. Let your friendly local web design marketing company make mastering your online reviews game a whole lot easier. Here is a list of the top five online review websites you should be focusing most of your efforts on:
- Google – Head on over to Google My Business and claim your profile if you haven’t already done so. Google the biggest search engine on earth now includes your business’s ranking within search engine result pages.
- Facebook – Facebook has its own review section for your business’s Facebook page. This ranking is now included in the Google Business Pack as well.
- Yelp – Yelp is the next contender. It receives over 145 million unique visitors on a monthly basis!
- Yellow Pages – This old classic is still favored by millions as their go-to business research landing page. This fact does not look to be changing, as they are position themselves as an online marketing service provider.
- Bing Places – Microsoft’s answer to Google My Business this powerful review engine is not to be ignored. This is the second most popular search engine after Google, and yes, it does indeed include ratings as part of its rankings calculation.
How can I ask customers to leave online reviews?
You understand how important online reviews are to your local business’s success, but how do you get or encourage clients to leave those reviews? There are several ways to encourage clients to leave reviews.
The easiest approach is after a sale is made or a service is provided. This is when the customer has your business fresh in their minds; they understand the benefit your business has provided so they are more likely to make the effort to leave a review. Strike while the iron is hot so to speak.
To acquire reviews indirectly, businesses have employed feedback cards, QR codes, emails, and even phone calls to encourage clients to leave reviews. When suggesting to a client to leave a review, remember to focus on one or two of the major sites we previously mentioned where you need reviews the most.
How do I track online reviews?
Now that your business has started receiving reviews how do you keep track of all the various review sites? There are various solutions out there but they cost money. If you currently have a search engine optimization partner managing your digital marketing efforts, give Webtivity a look (hint shameless plug).
If you are more of the do-it-yourself kind of person, look into setting up a Google Alert on your branded name. For example for us that would be “Webtivity Marketing and Designs”. You’ll be notified any time your business is mentioned online.
Another nifty online tool for review management is Social Mention. They will track a variety of social media platforms for mentions of your branded name as mentioned above. It is free and it allows you to set up email alerts for specific keywords.
It bears mentioning that none of these tools beat regular manual checking of your listings on the review sites we mentioned earlier.
How do I handle negative reviews?
Just like positive reviews, you should strive to respond to each and every negative review. There are several guidelines you should follow however to ensure you do not make an already bad situation worse. You will only serve to alienate the customer and anyone else who reads that review.
Do not write anything argumentative or even defensive. Instead seek to resolve the customer’s issue as fast and as directly as possible. Reach out with a message offering to help solve the difficulty this client had with your product or service.
If the issue is resolved, ask the client to update their review, most happy clients will. If they do not respond your response should act as a great signal to potential customers that you care about client satisfaction.
Finally, bury negative reviews with positive ones. Redouble your efforts to acquire more reviews to balance out the negative reviews. Most clients looking for reviews will only pay attention to the final business review standing.
3 biggest mistakes small businesses make with online reviews
- Not being responsive – The easiest way to lose potential clients, and subsequently search engine rankings, is by not being responsive to your online review platforms. Strive to have a 100% score on thanking all reviewers, as well as asking them for more feedback. In other words, reviews represent a unique opportunity to directly engage your clientele.
- Combative responses – Even worse than being non-responsive, is responding in a negative and combative manner. This signals to users that whoever is managing this business is not a mature individual. A lack of tact can ruin any business.
- Self or fraudulent reviews – This is the biggest no-no since no-nos were invented. You should never engage in this unethical practice. Review platforms have gotten sophisticated enough to be able to track false reviews. This earns a negative mark for your business and sinks your already floundering reputation even lower.
If I leave you with one thing…
Engage, engage, and engage. Please do not disregard the online review marketplace as a non-issue in your marketing efforts. Make sure your business is taking advantage of this free source of direct client to business engagement opportunity.
If you are ready to make the first step give us a call at (941) 753-7574 or schedule a quick conversation with Tim!
For more facts about online reviews check out this awesome infrographic from our friends over at invespcro:
Infographic by- Invesp