Reputation management has long been an important part of business, but how does it relate to online marketing? The simple answer is online reviews. Online reviews can quickly sink a company. That fear alone has kept many businesses away from soliciting reviews. But, what if you knew that getting enough reviews, and highlighting the positive ones, can increase your business by 25 percent? Would that be enticing enough for you to take a foray into the jungle of encouraging online reviews?
The Impact of Reviews
First let’s talk about how online reviews impact you. This happens in a couple ways:
- Review Site Rankings – When a person searches a key term, in amongst the results will be pages by sites like Yelp. When a potential customer clicks on that Yelp result they will see a listing of local companies and each company’s rating. They also see how many reviewers have contributed to that rating. Of course, the company with the most stars offered by the largest number of reviewers will have a higher click-through rate and more conversion into sales.
- Google Stars – When people have at least 6 reviews they will get a star rating in their listing on the Google Maps search results. One important caveat here is that you have to have enough SEO pull on your website to show up on the Google Map results. Having reviews will help you there, but it is not the only only factor. If you are showing on the maps and you have stars under your listing, you greatly increase your business. Our clients anecdotally report a 25 percent increase in business when the stars are there, over times when they are not!
Next, let’s discuss that number one fear people have: the power of a negative review. While it is certainly true that an unhappy customer will shout from the rafters about their gripe while a happy customer generally just smiles on the way out the door, it is possible (and important) to screen out those negative voices before they hit the web.
Safely Solicit Online Reviews
An online reputation management service will have strategies for mitigating negative reviews. This is often done via a customer service survey. The survey allows a customer to talk about their experience before it goes anywhere. The survey starts by having the customer rate their overall experience. The comments from a high-rated survey are driven to a review site where they can be posted. Alternately, comments on surveys with a low rating are sent to the company to be addressed, without posting to a review site.
These low-rated reviews are a great way for businesses to collect data to improve service. It also affords the business an opportunity to dialog with unhappy customers to try and improve their experience. Finding ways to improve a customer’s experience reinforces customer recovery and increases the potential that he or she will become a candidate for a future positive review.
How do you get people to take the time to fill out a survey? Again, an online reputation service will have enticing solutions. One way is to offer a potential reward for filling out a survey, such as a drawing for a Kindle Fire or an automatic coupon for the next use of your service.
Sure, but what if you don’t sell a service online? How do you get customers to visit your website? This can be done a few ways. One is by always getting emails for every customer who calls in. If they are reluctant to give it, tell them it will not be shared but does offer a chance to win a Kindle Fire or receive coupons for their valued input on your service.
A link to the survey should be on all your social media sites. This furthers the idea that you care about your customers’ experience and also promotes the incentive reward. People may even share the link and like your social media page in order to tell friends about winning that Kindle Fire. Increasing your social media presence will also help your SEO!
Another way to gather survey results is to send out snail mail flyers to customers, again explaining the potential reward and driving them to your website. Yet another way is to print the information on invoices or receipts. All of the above is even better!
Online reviews greatly impacts your reputation and your business. The negative reviews, once out there, are there to stay. They can be offset by achieving a larger number of positive reviews, thereby increasing your stars. The bummer is that it can take a long time if you are waiting around for people to find their way to review sites. The good news is that there are online reputation management services who can help you generate a larger number of reviews and weed out the ones you don’t want speaking for your business.