If you’re new to the concept of the online reputation and how reviews impact your business, watch this video and read this post. It may save your business someday.
Why are Reviews So Important?
This is actually a fairly easy question to answer. Just think of your own experience as an online consumer.
You find a product or service that fits your needs and seems like a good value. But there is something else you’d really like to know. Will I be happy with this after I spent my money?
The business assures you that you’ll love them, but you know they’re trying to sway your opinion. You want to hear from someone with no agenda. You want to hear from fellow consumers who experienced – first hand – this product or service.
That’s why you go searching for reviews – like most everybody. Recent data shows 86% of people will search for “business name + reviews” before they make a final purchase decision.
Online reviews are like the jury. They often render the final – and most influential – verdict on the quality of the offer.
Reviews are today’s version of a referral. You need this content, and you need it to speak positively about what you do.
Here are six tips to help you build a reputation and review profile so your happy customers will enlighten prospective ones about how excellent your work is.
Tip #1: Capture Reviews from Past Customers
This is obvious yet often overlooked. If you need to build your review profile, you must ask past customers to take a moment and write a review.
We suggest using your email list with a template like this:
When someone clicks “good” it links to a review platform. If they click “not good”, it opens a feedback form. So this tactic somewhat funnels reviewers so you get more positive reviews.
However, as JB points out in the video, it’s okay if people leave you some lower ratings with constructive criticism. In fact, studies show that having some negative reviews actually increases conversion rates because you avoid suspicion. When you have nothing but 5-star perfection, people start thinking you’re “too good to be true”; they might assume you’re gaming the system.
It helps to respond to reviews if you have something relevant to add, including how you correct issues. When you make things right, you can turn a negative into a positive.
Your excellent work is the most important component in getting positive reviews. Beyond that, what you want is an authentic message about your work, including how you remedy issues and always strive to improve.
#2: Keep Asking for Reviews
Our first tip works well for capturing reviews from past customers, but you can largely automate this process by having a review request be a call to action on most (if not all) of your business materials.
Ask for reviews on:
- Your email signature
- Invoices, receipts, or other correspondence
- Newsletters (email and print)
- Business cards
- Window stickers, shirts, or other branded chachkies
- Trade show materials
In other words, ask for reviews all over the place. Put the request on your business collateral, and it will automate the process for you.
#3. Ask Face to Face
Don’t be shy. When you’re talking to customers after completing good work, ask for a review. Make it a habit for you and your staff.
Since virtually everyone you deal with today will have a phone on them, it’s easy for them to leave a review, particularly on Google, Facebook, or the Top Rated Local® app.
For example, I recently ate at a restaurant that had a no-tip policy. After our meal, the waiter told us no tip was expected, but that in lieu of a tip he’d appreciate a review. In fact, if we mentioned his name in the review he’d get a bonus. They even had an iPad available, ready for us to log-in to Google.
We left him a review, and as JB notes, since we were still at our table, we felt obliged to make it extra good.
#4. Respond to Reviews
Whenever you have anything relevant to add to a review, leave a response. This shows you care about the feedback you’re getting, and it will also help your rankings, particularly on Google Business listings.
You’ll want to respond to negative reviews so you can share your side of the story and detail how you rectified the problem. Make sure you’re positive, professional, and concise. Never rant or insult anyone in a review response, even if the review is absurdly negative. Remember that the point here is to make a positive impression on prospective clients.
If the review is a nonsensical rant, no need to dignify it with a response. People will see it for what it is.
You can also thank people for positive reviews, but this works best when you expand on what they’re saying so it’s clear why your work was so excellent. Many people writing reviews are vague, so your response is an opportunity to detail the value you delivered. Then the review – as a whole – will help other consumers with their buying decision.
Be honest, humble, and concise in your responses. Avoid throwing in your sales pitch. Instead, share new things about your business that both existing and new customers might not have been aware of.
Reviews are an opportunity to have a conversation with your customer base. You can learn a lot from what they say and how they say it.
#5. Don’t Ignore Reviews and Reputation Management
This tip should be getting pretty clear by now. You can’t ignore your online reputation. You’ll have one whether you manage it or not. This content is too important to be passive about.
If you can, generate reviews and monitor your reputation internally. As the business owner, keep at least a cursory eye on your reviews, checking them at least weekly.
If you can’t get this done internally, hire a reputation management service like what’s offered by Marketing 360®. If you don’t exercise some control over this content, you’ll have to live with how the cards fall. That’s not a sound strategy for anything related to your business, least of all something as important as your reputation.
#6. Watch for and Manage Fake or Unfair Reviews
The scary thing about reviews is that a couple of real bombs can have a serious – even fatal – impact on your business. We’ve seen it happen.
If your service is resulting in poor reviews, you know what you’ve got to do. Improve your work and start getting better reviews.
If you get hit by a fake review you suspect was left by a competitor, you can petition (on most review platforms) to have it removed.
However, reviews are user-generated content, which means it’s likely you’ll have some less than flattering things said about you. Some people take advantage of the anonymous nature of review platforms as a place to go off the rails.
In these cases, the best thing you can do is keep the good reviews coming so they bury the occasional rant. Also, it’s better to have recent reviews. If your last good review was more than 6-months ago, many people will disregard it.
Work hard to keep your review profile updated and positive. And most of all, work hard so you earn your excellent online reputation.