Customers who talk about your brand have more effect on their audience’s buying decisions than ads or other forms of media. Reviews, good or bad have become a vital part of any business’s digital presence. While bigger retailers and businesses deal with a lot more customers, their reviews level off to give an overall representation based on a couple of hundred reviews. However for a local business, reviews are extremely important in being able to lure in more customers and maintaining a reputation. A brand with only 10 to 15 good reviews will feel the impact of one bad review more than a brand with a few hundred.
In this blog post we’ll be covering a number of ways that businesses can convince customers to submit reviews and how they can leverage that to drive sales. Although there are many platforms that have the ability to show reviews, only a few are known to have an impact on a customer’s buying decision.
Yelp: You might have visited Yelp before to see what other people have to say about a new restaurant but things have changed. Yelp reviews are pouring in for almost every industry and most businesses have a presence on it. The whole network is based on reviews and customers love it because companies have little control over what can be done to a review once it has been posted. The Yelp brand screams legitimacy so if your business has a positive presence on Yelp, potential customers are going to think you’re credible.
Google Plus: While Google Plus’s reputation as a social network might not be as popular as Facebook or Twitter, one cannot ignore the importance of its reviews. When your business pops up on a SERP (search engine results page) the first thing that will be differentiating you in Google’s results will be your reviews.
For example I searched for “Vacuum Cleaner Arlington, TX” and instantly I was able to notice that Evans Vacuum Cleaner Company showed up number 1 in the local results and it has a 5 star rating with 18 Google reviews. Other companies in the same search results don’t stand out due to the lack of reviews on their Google Plus pages. This is an area of opportunity that those businesses can explore to achieve better rankings and display credibility.
Facebook: If you are one of those businesses that are active on Facebook and drive a lot of awareness about your brand, then Facebook reviews play an important role in your digital presence. It’s relatively easy for people to be outspoken on a familiar platform such as Facebook so businesses need to be cautious about how they are engaging their customers. Inappropriate or offensive posts are an easy way to lose the reputation your business might have taken months or years to build. Facebook reviews might not have the same direct impact as Yelp or Google Plus reviews have but it does carry some weight in establishing your reputation as a brand.
Your Own Website: For many businesses it can be hard to convince a customer to take out the time to go and leave a review on another website (especially those who might be a little technologically challenged). These people would rather write a review on a piece of paper and submit it to the business. What are you supposed to do with that review? Publish it on your website. Make sure to have a dedicated testimonial section to showcase those hand written reviews. Your website is a great place to add reviews because that is where people spend most of their time as they are learning about your products or services.
The top 4 platforms mentioned above are important for most businesses but these aren’t the only places where reviews matter. For niche services there are many other websites such as Angie’s List, Yahoo Local Listings, Bing Local, Insider Pages and Better Business Bureau that determine the overall reputation of your business.
Now that we’ve established the top platforms for collecting online reviews, let’s move on to the harder part. How can you make your customers write reviews? We can’t really force them but there are ways to convince and motivate customers to take out a minute or two to say something nice (only if they are satisfied). Asking an angry customer for a review, is like asking someone to punch you in the face.
Here are some ways to get positive reviews:
Convince Your Loyal Customers: Google and Yelp do not advise businesses to give their customers “gift like” incentives to leave a review. You should know who your loyal customers are and reaching out to them for their opinion on your business isn’t hard. The advantage of loyal customer reviews is that they will not only write great things about your business but will also provide insightful feedback for areas of improvement as they seem to care more than your average customer.
Make It Convenient: As a brand or a business, it isn’t easy to keep a customer’s attention for very long. Due to that reason make sure to make the process of leaving the review as seamless as possible. If you want more Yelp reviews and you already have a Facebook presence, don’t just ask your followers to “Please leave us a review on Yelp” but take the initiative of providing a direct link to the website. Little efforts made on your part will go a long way in helping your customers out when you need something from them.
Respond to Negative Reviews: Good reviews are great but bad reviews are even better! Bad reviews give your brand an opportunity to not only redeem itself but also show excellent customer service. By understanding a customer’s concern and addressing it professionally can turn an angry customer into a loyal one. That person might even remove their negative review and write a positive one instead.
Email Marketing Campaign: A customer email list is a resource that can be used for more than just sending newsletters and offers. Create an email marketing campaign dedicated to collecting online reviews. If you sell a product or service online, you can always send a follow up email asking for feedback about the customer’s experience interacting with your brand.
Online reviews are a great way to gather customer feedback for your products or services but there is some risk involved. It’s not easy to be perfect when dealing with clients and employee mistakes or other isolated incidents that can lead to a backlash. However the benefits associated with positive reviews such as customer acquisition, brand credibility, digital presence are far greater than the risk of collecting negative reviews.