One of the many wonderful things about the Internet is the opportunity for people to express their opinions on almost anything. If you own a business, it’s a way for customers to comment on your service or products in order to share with others. These comments are posted on the web as online reviews, either directly to your business’s website, social media pages, or to other sites which aggregate online reviews.
How Important Are Online Reviews?
In the digital age, online reviews have largely taken the place of the word-of-mouth referrals. After all, it may be easy to ask your neighbor who mows his lawn, but harder to find someone you know who has ordered a polka dot cat sweater from an affordable website in the past year. Potential buyers can easily seek out online reviews of products and services offered by various companies all around the world — including people who have used your business in the past.
Positive online reviews also increase your appearance within search engine results. You will notice when you search for a service or product that Google Maps will appear in the results with the highest ranked businesses that you are searching for. This is also true for many other search engine sites such as yellow pages, yelp, bing, etc…
It’s easy to see why positive reviews are like gold, while negative ones can be toxic and dangerous.
How Can You Monitor Your Online Reviews?
- Be proactive – Don’t just read a few online reviews when you feel like it. Schedule time regularly (weekly is a good goal) to check for new reviews. Also, when looking at various review sites, take note if your recent positive reviews are not current; the older they are, the less impact they have on the opinions of others.
- Respond quickly – Whether positive or negative, you should respond to every review. If positive, thank the reviewer for taking the time to spread their great experience with others. On the other hand, you may come across customers who express displeasure about their experience dealing with your business. Do not ignore these individuals, and do not procrastinate in responding. When you respond quickly, you send the message that you care about customer input and are taking steps to resolve the problem. Always be genuine and sincere because it reflects in your response.
- Keep the tone civil – Some online reviews can be scathing, juvenile, inappropriate, and downright unfair. Even if a certain review does awaken some strong emotions, do not mimic the reviewer’s negative tone. Instead, remain calm and civil while leaving out emotional words, and respond to the reviewer with class. If you get dragged into the virtual mud with a reviewer, both you and your business almost always lose.
- Address the issue and offer to make it right – If a reviewer has a legitimate complaint — even if it wasn’t the fault of you or your staff — try to find a way to make him or her happy. Offer a refund or a discount on future services. You’d be surprised how many positive reviews are born out of negative ones that were addressed properly and in a timely manner.
How Can You Get More Good Reviews?
Ask for reviews – Make it apparent to all of your customers that they have a voice in how you do business. This means not only having a place on your website where people can post or read reviews, but also promoting the appropriate online review destination (i.e. Google+, Facebook, Yelp, Yahoo, etc…) in print and email communications.
Newsletters and emails are the best way to ask for reviews on a regular basis. Email marketing is (and will continue to be) the most important channel any business can use to continually get their name in front of their past and present clients. It’s consistent, targeted, effective, inexpensive and used by over half of the world’s population. One way to do this is outsource your email campaigns to a reputable marketing company, or you could sign up for a service that automatically emails your clients to ask for their reviews after a service is performed or a product is purchased. Emails always increase the odds that happy customers will take the time to sing your praises online.
if a customer expresses his or her satisfaction to you verbally, be sure to respond by saying, “Thanks! Feel free to tell the world by putting that in a review online!”
Encourage people to read your reviews – Display a link to your online reviews or “testimonials” on your website, Facebook page, and anywhere else you have an online presence. Not only will potential customers read your glowing reviews, but your current customers are more likely to add their positive feedback as well.
If you need help with the task of online review management, Shayla Does It Marketing Services offers online review management as a part of monthly seo and link building packages. Contact us for more information or a free consultation.