Why Businesses Absolutely Need An Online Review Strategy

Why Businesses Absolutely Need An Online Review Strategy

Is your business engaging customers online through review sites? If not, you’re missing a BIG opportunity to promote your brand and secure sales. Just take a look at these stats:
  • Nearly two-thirds of customers read online reviews on a weekly basis.
  • About 4 in 5 consumers consult reviews before buying.
  • A whopping 9 out of 10 buyers say online reviews directly influenced their purchasing decisions!
The benefits of online reviews are plentiful. Done correctly, your online review strategy can help you:
  • Establish trust and promote customer loyalty.
  • Make more money. In fact, about 70 percent of customers would gladly pay up to 15 percent more for your products or services if they believe they’ll have a positive experience.
  • Increase sales and reduce costs through free marketing. Basically, your customers are selling your products for you.
  • Improve your business practices or offerings through customer feedback.
The local review ecosystem: which review sites should your business focus on? There are A LOT of review sites, both general and industry specific, but you don’t necessarily need to pay attention to all of them to get the most out of your strategy. The customer feedback sphere functions much like an ecosystem, with smaller sites syndicating or feeding reviews to larger ones. For example, both TripAdvisor and Yelp send reviews to Bing. CitySearch is a major syndicating site, providing Bing, Yahoo, InsiderPages, Kudzu, MerchantCircle, YP.com, UrbanSpoon, and then some with customer reviews. Google+, on the other hand, doesn’t really share reviews with other sites - but Google is Google, i.e. the dominant search engine, consuming nearly 73 percent of the market share. So, which review sites will benefit your business the most? Yelp, CitySearch, and Google+ Local ought to serve as your foundation and then industry specific sites (e.g. UrbanSpoon, healthgrades.com, lawyers.com) relevant to your business. The dos and don’ts of getting and responding to reviews Once you’ve figured out which review sites serve your business best, there are some important rules of online etiquette you should follow: DO
  • Link to review profiles from your website.
  • Make giving reviews as easy as possible. More than 3 out of 4 customers are willing to leave a review if asked so long as the process is straightforward and not time-consuming.
  • Train your staff to politely ask for reviews at the end of service or through follow-up calls.
  • Send follow-up e-mails, a process that can easily be automated.
  • Check the review sites’ policies as some are stricter than others. For example, Yelp prohibits soliciting customers for reviews on their site.
  • Provide incentives, such as giveaways or contests, for leaving reviews given they adhere to site guidelines.
  • Thank customers for great reviews and try to remedy negative ones by showing you’re willing to go above and beyond to rectify a mistake or bad experience.
DO NOT
  • Write or pay third-parties to write fake reviews. All sites have proprietary filters that are triggered by certain suspicious signs, such as IP addresses, too many reviews at once, overuse of keywords, presence of links, or even brown-nosing adjectives.
  • Go on a rampage defending yourself against negative reviews. Criticizing or demeaning customers who’ve related a bad experience will only make you look unprofessional.
People love sharing their experiences online either to help others or to be heard. Word of mouth is still a business’ bread and butter; however, given today’s highly connected customer, bad experiences can travel like wild fire, scorching hard-earned reputations. To protect and promote your brand’s image through consumer engagement, contact our social media marketing experts at Social Spice Media today! We’ll ensure no voice goes unheard.