It’s time to deal with that monster hiding under your bed — online reviews. It seems like a monster because it’s powerful, unpredictable and can occasionally attack. But according to BrightLocal.com:
Reviews will happen whether or not you make them a priority for your business. We live in an age where consumers treat online reviews as the norm and rely on them to make purchase decisions.
Online reviews can have a big impact on sales. Research on every level consistently shows that most consumers look for, rely on and trust online reviews. Positive reviews can increase sales, and negative reviews can hurt them.
Most people don’t realize that online reviews can also affect local search engine optimization. According to the Moz Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, review signals — including quantity, velocity, diversity and star rating — make up the third-most important local ranking factor.
Simply put, online reviews can be a key element in your marketing. And getting more and better reviews should be two of your marketing goals.
If you have a good product or service with average or above-average customer satisfaction, it pays to seek and secure MORE reviews. An abundance of reviews makes the legitimacy unquestionable and also increases local search rankings.
So you need to encourage your customers to leave a review and a ranking. Here are some ways to accomplish that:
ASK your customers for a review
Do this in person, and also on your website and other outlets. Urge them to do this sooner rather than later, as it will increase the legitimacy of their purchase and their opinion.
Get buy-in from your employees
Stress to your staff the importance of asking customers for reviews and mentioning where they can leave them. This should be a part of every transaction.
Thank customers for their feedback
Thank customers in advance for their feedback, regardless of how or where they leave it. In the course of thanking them online, use keywords about your business — this can improve your SEO.
Provide your customers with options
Provide many different opportunities for your customers to place their reviews. Establish a presence on platforms such Facebook, Yelp, Angie’s List, Google Local or Trip Advisor (if applicable).
Make leaving a review as easy as possible
Link from your website to multiple review platforms, and include these links on any emails you send to customers.
Give an incentive to leave a review
Give customers an incentive to leave a review. Don’t pressure them to leave a good review. If you’ve treated them well and fairly, the review will be a favorable one.
Surveys can also demonstrate to your customers that you value their opinion. Display survey results on your website and on social media.
More types of social proof — use testimony from experts or celebrities. Ask for an evaluation of your products or services from an expert in your industry. Anyone with a large social following is also a good candidate for this. Take whatever steps you can to get your business in front of them.
What about negative reviews?
According to Search Engine Journal, the best ways to handle negative customer reviews are:
- Answer quickly
- Answer thoughtfully
- Give each review a custom response
- Take it offline and follow up with the negative reviewer.
- If they end up happy, ask them to remove the negative review.
I’d recommend you start dealing with the Online Reviews Monster now. If you do it well, that monster won’t be as scary as it was when it was still under your bed.