It’s no secret that in order to be successful in business, you need to have a good online presence. As a business owner, you know that online reviews are important. A recent study found that 82% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. That’s why it’s important to make sure that you’re managing your online reputation effectively.
What if you don’t have the time, resources, or ability to manage your online reviews in a sustainable way? There’s a simple and effective solution that is both affordable and impactful. In this article, we will discuss the importance of online reviews for your reputation, rankings, and sales, and how to use an online review management service to help you get started. So keep reading if you want to unlock this lead and sales generating superpower!
What is Online Review Management?
Before we can unlock the business superpower which is online review management, we need to first define what online review management is. In essence, online review management is the process of monitoring, responding to, and generating online reviews. This can be done in a number of ways, but the most important part is to make sure that you are doing it in a way that is sustainable and scalable.
There are many platforms on which online reviews can be generated, but the three most popular ones are Google, Facebook, and Yelp.
Each platform has different criteria for how and whom can leave reviews. For instance, Yelp is the most stringent. In order to leave a review on Yelp, you have to have an account that is at least two months old and has completed a certain number of reviews. This helps to ensure that the reviewer is legitimate and not just leaving a fake review.
Google and Facebook are a bit more lenient in this respect. All you need is a Google or Facebook account to leave a review, which makes it easier for people to leave reviews but also opens the door for more fake reviews.
Review Management vs Reputation Management
Now that we know what online review management is, let’s discuss the difference between online review management and reputation management.
Reputation management is the proactive and reactive process of identifying, monitoring, and influencing conversations about an individual or organization. This can be done through a number of different channels, such as online reviews, social media, news articles, etc.
The main focus of reputation management is to make sure that the overall conversation about your brand is positive and to minimize any negative sentiment.
Online review management falls under the umbrella of reputation management. However, online review management is more focused on the online reviews themselves rather than the overall conversation about your brand.
While online review management and reputation management share some similarities, there are also some key differences. The main difference is that online review management is more focused on the actual reviews, while reputation management is more focused on the overall conversation about your brand.
Why review management is important
Review management is more than just getting reviews. It needs to be seen as connected to your SEO (search engine optimization) strategy, and not an isolated thing.
If the first thing people see about your brand online is negative, they are unlikely to want to buy from you. This can have a profound impact on your bottom line when it comes to acquiring new customers. The reason this falls under your SEO strategy starts with the term branded search.
Branded search is when someone searches for your brand by name using a search engine like Google. These customers are strongly considering your business as a solution to a problem they are having. This is almost guaranteed business. To lose this business due to anomalies in online reviews can be disastrous.
In order to combat this, you need to make sure that you are actively generating positive online reviews. This will help push down the negative reviews and ensure that potential customers see the positive aspects of your brand before the negative ones.
Catalyst Digital performed a study that showed that online search is the primary tool 90% of their responders used through the customer life cycle from discovery to consideration, and finally engagement. In just the discovery phase alone, 71% of respondents used organic search as their primary means of learning about new businesses and their offerings.
Not prioritizing your online reviews as part of your overall business strategy can literally be costing you thousands of dollars with no hyperbole.
Let’s expand on the importance of online reviews…
Reviews are all around you
Believe it or not, the proliferation of places where online reviews can be found has grown exponentially in recent years. It is not just the big players like Google and Yelp that have online review capabilities.
In fact, there are now online review platforms for just about every niche you can think of. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
– Angie’s List
– Better Business Bureau
And the list goes on and on. If you are in a specific niche, there is likely an online review site for that niche as well.
The bottom line is that online reviews are not going away anytime soon. In fact, they are only going to become more and more prevalent. This means that you need to make sure you have a solid online review strategy in place.
The presence of online reviews has a significant impact on Search Ranking
You might not know this, but online reviews are a ranking factor for where your website shows up in most major search engines. This means that if you have positive online reviews, your website is more likely to rank higher in search results.
This is a relatively new development, but it is one that you need to be aware of. Search engines have realized the importance of online reviews and have started to use them as a ranking factor.
A study by Moz showed that online reviews have a moderate correlation to organic search results. This means that online reviews can directly impact your website’s ability to show up in organic search results.
This is a big deal because organic search results are the primary way that people find new websites. If you can get your website to show up higher in organic search results, you are more likely to get new visitors that generate more leads and can lead to a greater number of conversions.
Online Reviews Are About More Than Quality, They Are Also About Quantity
When it comes to online reviews, one of the most important factors that search engines look at is popularity. This means that if you have a lot of online reviews, you are more likely to rank higher in search results.
This is because online reviews are seen as a sign of popularity. If you have a lot of online reviews, it means that people are talking about your brand and that you are relevant.
Relevant businesses get priority placements in placement in local search results.
Reviews can help increase clicks from Google Business Profiles
One of the most important metrics when understanding the health of your online marketing initiatives is the click-through rate from your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) to your website.
A higher click-through rate means that people are finding your business online and then taking the next step to visit your website. Having positive reviews can have a direct impact on your bottom line when it comes to generating leads and sales. Remember, your sales funnel strategy can’t start if potential customers don’t click through to your website.
Got Social Proof?
If you have been in business for any amount of time, you know how important social proof is.
Social proof is the idea that people are more likely to buy from a business if they see that other people have already bought from them. This is why online reviews are so important.
Online reviews act as social proof that your business is worthy of doing business with. If people see that others have had a positive experience with your business, they are more likely to do business with you.
This herding bias is a naturally occurring phenomenon when it comes to our purchasing decisions and online reviews provide the perfect opportunity to take advantage of it.
Trust = Conversions
The amount of trust a business is able to create is one of the most important elements that influence whether or not a potential customer will purchase from one business over another.
It cannot be stated enough that online reviews increase trust and confidence in a potential customer’s mind.
A study by BrightLocal showed that 49% of respondents believe online reviews as much as they would a personal recommendation and 55% of respondents will not purchase from a business with less than 4 stars.
This means that online reviews have a direct impact on whether or not people will do business with you.
If you don’t have online reviews, you are missing out on a valuable opportunity to increase trust and confidence in your potential customers.
Manage your Brand’s Online Presence
We’ve covered a few of the reasons why maintaining an up-to-date internet reputation is critical. While many company owners may agree, the problem begins with how to get more online reviews from consumers, monitor consumer feedback on review platforms and social media alike, and respond to compliments and complaints in equal measure.
For many business owners, the prospect of managing their online reputation can be daunting. The good news is that there are online review management services that can help you to take control of your online reputation.
These services will help you to get more online reviews, monitor feedback, and respond to reviews in a way that protects and enhances your brand. The nicest part is that these solutions provide consistency, saving businesses time by taking care of the review management process for them.
Here are some tips for managing reviews effectively
Whether you decide to have this process managed professionally or prefer to do it yourself, here are some useful tips to help you get the most out of online reviews:
Positive Reviews Begin With Encouragement
If you want to increase online trust and conversion rates, there’s no better way to get that ball rolling than to actively encourage happy customers to leave positive reviews of their experience with your brand or business.
As we discussed earlier, reviews are an important component of online marketing, as they have the power to influence a person’s buying decision.
In order to encourage customers to leave reviews, you need to make it easy for them. Add links to your review profiles on your website and in your email signature. You can also ask customers to leave a review after they have made a purchase.
If you have a physical location, you can put up signs asking customers to review your business online. No matter what direction you choose to go, be consistent about it. Many studies show that the difference between a business that receives a high percentage of online reviews and those that do not is as simple as asking for them from customers as part of your transactional process.
Why should you reply to online reviews?
When it comes to online reviews, one of the most important things you can do is reply to them. Whether they are positive or negative, responding to online reviews shows customers that you care about their experience with your business.
If you have a lot of positive reviews, replying to them is a great way to show your appreciation. A simple “thank you” goes a long way. When done in a timely manner, it shows prospective customers that you are active in responding to customers’ feedback and that your business is one that cares about its online reputation.
Having a strong online review management strategy in place is essential to the success of any business in today’s digital world. By taking control of your online reputation, you can build trust and confidence with potential customers, which will lead to more conversions and sales.
How Can You Respond To Negative Reviews In An Effective Way?
One of the worst things a business owner can experience is a negative review. While it’s true you can’t please everyone, it still hurts to see somebody say something negative about your business online.
The first thing you need to do is take a deep breath and remember that a negative review is not the end of the world. In fact, it’s an opportunity to show potential customers how you handle customer service issues. Think of it as a way to collect valuable feedback that will help you avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
Answer Promptly and With Empathy
When you receive negative feedback, the best thing you can do is respond in a professional and constructive manner. Thank the customer for their feedback and try to resolve the issue they had in a prompt and efficient way.
A prompt response will be viewed as a sign that you’re taking the customer’s feedback seriously and that you’re committed to providing a great experience for everyone who does business with you. The positive impact of responding quickly and effectively to a negative review can far outweigh the damage of the review itself.
Your goal should be to turn the negative experience into a positive one for the customer. Not only will this help improve their opinion of your business, but it will also show other potential customers that you are a business that cares about its customers and is willing to go the extra mile to resolve issues.
Every business will have unhappy customers from time to time, it’s important to explore their experiences for actionable insights that can help your business improve. Address the root cause of their dissatisfaction and work to prevent it from happening again in the future.
Own Up To Your Mistakes
The worst thing a business owner can do when confronted with a negative review online is to try and dodge responsibility. This can be tough in certain situations where the customer, in all likelihood, is wrong.
I’m not saying that business owners should always capitulate in every situation, but you have to be very careful when it comes to online reviews. The customers always have the upper hand when it comes to online reviews because their voices can be amplified to a much wider audience with just a few clicks.
Remember, your response to a negative review isn’t just about that customer, it’s also about potential future customers. If you come across as unprofessional or dismissive in your response, it will reflect poorly on your business and turn potential customers away.
The best way to handle a negative review is to take responsibility for your part in the situation, apologize, and try to make it right.
If all else fails, you can always offer a refund. This shows that you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is and back up your commitment to customer satisfaction.
Fake Reviews – An Insidious Strategy
If you didn’t have enough on your plate when it comes to managing your online reputation, let me introduce you to the insidious strategy of fake negative reviews.
That’s right, in addition to having to worry about real customers leaving negative reviews, you also have to deal with the possibility of fake ones.
Why would someone create a fake negative review? The answer is going to shock you.
Oftentimes, businesses will create fake negative reviews for their competition in order to try and damage their reputation. This is an incredibly unethical thing to do, but unfortunately, it happens more often than you might think.
Worse yet, businesses will hire professional reputation assassins who will create a steady stream of fake negative reviews to try and take down a competitor.
The best way to combat this is to first learn how to identify fake reviews.
A fake negative review will usually be short, generic, and lack any specific details about the reviewer’s experience.
It’s important to remember that not all short or generic reviews are fake, but it’s definitely something to look out for.
Another tip-off that a review might be fake is if the reviewer seems to be excessively angry or if they use language that is overly negative.
Of course, there are always going to be some legitimately unhappy customers who will leave bad reviews that meet these criteria, but it’s still something to be aware of.
If you do come across a fake negative review, the best thing you can do to protect your online image is to report it to the site where it was posted.
Most reputable review sites have strict policies against fake reviews and they will usually take them down once they’ve been reported.
If you’re the victim of a fake review campaign, sometimes the only option is the weather the storm.
It’s important to keep in mind that most people are smart enough to see through fake reviews and they will usually discount them.
As long as you’re producing quality products or services and treating your customers well, the fake reviews will eventually be exposed for what they are and people will see them for the frauds that they are.
Regularly Perform an Audit of Your Online Reputation
The best way to protect your online reputation is to regularly perform an audit of your online presence.
This means that you should Google yourself and your business on a regular basis and see what comes up.
If you see any negative customer feedback, take steps to address it immediately.
The longer you leave negative information online, the more damage it can do to your reputation.
Putting It All Together With a Comprehensive Review Management Strategy
Building up to this point we have covered :
– What online review management is and how it’s different from traditional reputation management.
– The benefits of online review management services.
– Why online review management is so important.
– How to address negative reviews.
– How to encourage customers to leave positive reviews.
– The dangers of fake negative reviews.
– How to perform a regular audit of your online reputation.
Now it’s time to put all of this information together into a comprehensive online review management strategy.
With an audit completed, you are ready to tackle the first step in developing your online review management system, how to properly solicit customers to leave online reviews in a way that won’t feel forced or fake.
How to Get Your Customers to Write a Review
This is the one step out of all the steps that tend to scare business owners the most. The most common fears customers have when soliciting customers to write a review are:
1) Asking customers to write a review will feel forced or obligatory.
2) Customers will only write a review if they had a negative experience.
3) Customers will be put off by having to write a review and will take their business elsewhere.
All of these are rational concerns that truly come from a good place. The reality is that when done correctly, asking customers to write online reviews can be a very positive experience for both the customer and the business.
Think about it from the customer’s perspective. When was the last time you were truly wowed by a product or service?
Chances are, it doesn’t happen all that often.
So, when a business goes above and beyond to provide an exceptional experience, the customer is likely to want to write a review to share their experience with others.
It’s the same principle as to why customers write online reviews in the first place – they want to share their good experiences with others in the hopes that it will help someone else have a good experience as well.
Here are some tips on how to properly solicit online reviews from customers:
1) The best time to ask for a review is when the customer is already happy.
This could be immediately after they’ve made a purchase, received their product, or completed a service.
2) Make it easy for them to leave a review by providing a link directly to your review page.
3) Don’t be afraid to ask! The worst thing that can happen is they say no.
4) Thank them for their review, whether it’s positive or negative.
The right time to ask for a review is going to vary depending on the services provided or the products purchased. Understanding the customer experience map for your business is key to knowing when the best time to ask for a review is.
Make asking for a review a part of every finalized transaction, whether it’s asking if they would like a receipt emailed to them where you can provide a link to leave a review on a specific platform, shouting out good experiences with customers on the social media platform of your choice (with their consent of course), or if you have a physical location where a purchase is transacted, you could provide a link to a review platform directly on the receipt.
The important thing is to make this a part of your regular process so that it doesn’t feel out of the ordinary for either you or the customer.
Monitoring Brand Mentions Online
As a business owner, it’s important to be aware of what people are saying about your company online. This includes monitoring social media posts, online reviews, and any other online mentions of your business.
There are a few different ways to go about doing this:
Manual monitoring: This is the process of manually searching for online mentions of your business. This can be done by using Google Alerts, set up to email you anytime your business is mentioned online.
Social media monitoring: This is the process of using a social media listening tool to track online mentions of your business on social platforms.
Online review monitoring: This is the process of using an online review tracking tool to track online reviews of your business. Being diligent here can help to address any bad experiences a customer might have had with your business in a timely manner.
Feeling Overwhelmed? What About Automating Online Review Management?
As a business owner, you know better than anyone that time is money and perhaps the most valuable thing you own. Many business owners like yourself often feel overwhelmed by the day-to-day operations of their business. Throwing in a new set of responsibilities, such as online review management, can feel like too much to handle.
But here’s the good news – online review management doesn’t have to be a burden.
Business owners can use online review management software to get individual reviews as well as customer reviews.
Many of these software solutions provide review widgets that allow you to place a review form on your website, making it easy for customers to leave a review. These software solutions also make online review monitoring easy by collecting online reviews and storing them in one central location.
This can save you countless hours of manually combing the internet for online mentions of your business.
Some online review management software solutions also offer social media monitoring as well as online reputation management services. These additional services can help you proactively manage your online reputation, saving you, even more, time and energy.
Review Marketing – The Final Step in the Process
The final step to any successful online review management strategy is review marketing. This is the secret weapon to building a successful online business.
Review marketing is the process of actively promoting your online reviews to increase brand awareness and drive traffic to your website.
There are a few different ways to go about marketing online reviews:
Including online reviews on your website: This can be done by adding review widgets to your website or by manually adding reviews to specific pages on your website.
Sharing online reviews on social media: This is a great way to show potential customers that your business is reputable and trustworthy.
Email marketing: You can include online reviews in your email marketing campaigns to provide some much-needed and welcomed social proof.
As you can see, online review management is a critical part of any online business. By being proactive in managing your online reviews, you can ensure that your business is putting its best foot forward online.
In order to take advantage of the benefits of increasing your number of positive online reviews, you need to be strategic in your approach. Use online review management software to make online review monitoring and marketing easy and be sure to take the time to promote your online reviews.
By following these simple steps you’ll be well on your way to increased brand awareness and online success.
To learn more about our online review management services, fill out the form below. We will send you a fantastic guide that walks you through how the software works and you’ll be able to see it in action.