More and more businesses are wising up to the fact that online reviews are real—and really matter to their bottom line.
The power of online reviews to boost your business is well documented, but many business owners still treat it like a vanity metric. That’s a shame, because good online reviews can do a lot for a brand, both directly and indirectly.
Your online reviews can:
- Build your trustworthiness and perceived value among buyers
- Serve as valuable social proof in your marketing assets
- Improve your SEO performance by boosting your Domain Authority
- Increase sales and conversions among viewers
They do this through a few tricks of consumer psychology, such as reducing a buyer’s perceived risk and helping them to imagine their own experience of a product or service. Reviews also give consumers real-world information about a product or service that they can’t get from the company itself.
That’s why roughly half of customers say they consider authentic online reviews as valuable as a word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend or family member. Customers are looking for reviews of your product while they’re in the store or scouting competitors online.
The catch is, you have to convince satisfied customers to write you a review first. And what do you do with the inevitable bad review once it drops on your feed? It can feel like a minefield for business owners preferring to focus on business. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that painful (and we’re always here to help).
Our marketing experts weighed in with their thoughts on curating online reviews and offered a few tips for boosting your inventory quickly.
First things first: Are you worth a great review?
Positive reviews are essential to business success online, but you can’t expect positive, high-quality reviews without delivering a great experience first. Remember that reviews are a reflection of your brand’s performance, and of customers’ ultimate satisfaction with your product or service.
That’s why before your business even asks for a review, it needs to do some housekeeping. Ask yourself:
Are you providing excellent service or top-tier products worthy of praise?
Why would someone be compelled to share their experience with your brand? If you can't think of a scenario where this would occur, you may first want to try a classic SWOT analysis. Compare your offerings to industry standards and competitors. Be honest and objective about whether your service or products stand out in terms of quality, pricing, features, and customer support.
Do you respond promptly to customer issues or complaints?
Do you have mechanisms in place to address negative feedback when it’s left online? If not, it’s a good idea to understand how you’ll find negative reviews and address them.
Are you cultivating relationships with your customers?
As Informatics President and CEO John Osako recently wrote, it’s crucial to get closer to your customers and build the kinds of connections that make it more likely you’ll get a great review.
If you’re unsure of some of these answers, you can always ask your customers directly, whether in the form of a phone call or automated survey.
Where to get reviews for your business
Start by setting up your online review profiles, so you have a place to collect all of your customer reviews. If you have longer testimonials or customer interviews, save those in another spot for use on your website or in case studies.
When it comes to review profiles, most businesses today put a lot of time and effort into their Facebook presence. It’s top of mind because most of us use it personally. It’s also the most immediate way to show up on our followers’ devices.
We definitely recommend perfecting your presence on this platform. However, we also urge our clients not to stop there. Yelp and Google My Business also deserve your attention.
Yelp, the multi-industry review platform started 20 years ago, is alive and well today. Between the website and its mobile app, Yelp draws an average of 178 million visitors each month. The platform is used by more than just hungry folks looking for a new place to eat. In fact, “local services” make up its most reviewed category; “restaurants” falls in second place.
Setting up a Yelp profile is pretty simple. You’ll just need to create a profile and then claim or list your business. Note that listings are separate from profiles. This is done for two different reasons:
- So that multiple people can manage a listing
- So that a listing remains intact if business employees or owners change.
Upload at least five high-quality photos that display a mix of your space, products, and services. Images are the first items clicked in profiles, so make sure you’re representing yourself well here.
Details like your address, website, and phone number are obviously essential, but don’t forget to further enhance your profile by check-marking your business’ notable amenities. People are increasingly filtering their searches by experiential details like “Wi-Fi” or “Gender-neutral bathrooms” when deciding where to take their business.
Google My Business
Your business should also be present on Google My Business—a site now visited by roughly 8 in 10 consumers before they visit a business.
When you set up a Google My Business profile, you’re not just placing your information in one location. Entering it there will also allow it to appear in the sidebar within Google Search, in Google Maps, and on Google Shopping. Users can see and make reviews within any of these spaces.
To set up a Google My Business profile, create an account through the Profile Manager, then add your business if it isn’t already in the drop-down menu. Just like for Yelp, add great photos and videos. Physical businesses will need to verify their address by mail, while ecommerce businesses can verify through email.
You’ll want to get started on this right away, as companies who have more reviews are more likely to show up higher in local results. For example, a search of “Insurance companies near me” will pull up a business with 25 reviews before one with just five.
Strategies for collecting reviews
The easy part of this process is complete once you’ve set up your online review profiles. Sure, you could sit back and hope customers are inspired to share their great experiences with others, but considering the extreme value of online reviews, we encourage a more proactive approach that harnesses your existing audiences and brand advocates.
Here are a few tactics you can’t easily add to your existing marketing and sales operations to attract more customer reviews—although the list is really only limited by your imagination.
Strategically incorporate links to your review profiles in your regularly newsletters and eblasts, complete with persuasive call-to-action buttons or text encouraging customers to share their feedback with others. If you have a robust CMS like HubSpot, consider setting up automated workflows that send emails to contacts at a preset time after a purchase or service.
Display review links in areas where customers frequently engage with your brand and products, such as product pages or checkout confirmations. When you’ve built up enough reviews, consider adding an entire page dedicated to the positive testimonials you’ve received.
Share review links every so-often in the form of posts or stories. If you’ve built a strong following, consider running review-focused contests or giveaways to incentivize participation. For example, you could enter customers who leave you a review into a monthly gift card raffle.
There is perhaps no one closer to your customers than your salespeople. Task them with soliciting reviews and testimonials from clients in their day-to-day conversations. While some salespeople feel like that’s an awkward ask, the truth is your most loyal clients will appreciate being asked to offer their perspective to others in the industry.
Remember, satisfied customers are typically more than willing to share their positive experiences, so focus on building a great customer experience they’ll actually want to talk about. If you need help taking your reviews to the next level, we can help you every step of the way. Reach out to our marketing team today to supercharge your online reputation and grow your business through word-of-mouth.
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