Successful business owners know that online reviews are more important than ever because reputation and brand trust is so critical in the age of mobile searches and online comparisons. That’s why they’re often willing to make a concerted effort to increase overall reviews and highlight those good reviews that they’ve earned.
Large brand names don’t necessarily need to go to extraordinary lengths to ensure survival. They have deep pockets and years of brand recognition, so no one usually bats an eye if a guest posts a 1-star review and writes corporate about a botched hamburger order.
However, imagine what the average customer is going to do if the first review they come across for a local business reads: “The food and service were terrible. I won’t be back.” or “They never even followed up on my phone calls.” on Google or another review site.
That business is going to struggle! Even if they fix the problems that lead to the negative experience, that first bad review will haunt them for a long time if they don’t quickly get new, positive reviews to show that things are improving. Staying on the right track in terms of overall ratings requires constant monitoring and getting new positive reviews as a sign of social proof.
What the Statistics Show
According to one survey, 93 percent of online users say a negative review changed their mind on whether or not to buy a product or service. For that matter, up to 87 percent of shoppers wouldn’t even consider buying a product with a star rating lower than 3.3 stars.
The Spiegel Research Center further reported that product buys increase by 270 percent when businesses have at least five great-to-good reviews.
Even a few good comments are better than none, and Search Engine Land / Bright Local listed several more surprising surveys about customer reviews:
- The first one to six reviews are what a customer remembers most
- Reviews older than three months have less priority
- 80 percent of potential customers take anonymous reviews just as seriously as personal recommendations from friends
Why wouldn’t they? What do people have to lose by being brutally honest about the product or service they just spent money on?
Online reviews are not just for educational purposes (although studies show detailed reviews are by far the most valued) but are also an example of community reputation.
An even more provocative survey showed that major search engines consider “legitimate reviews” a significant ranking factor in SERPs. That means the number of reviews, diverse types of reviews, and even the timing of online reviews should play a part in SEO strategy. Meaning, if you want to be found in online searches, you should have a steady flow of mostly positive and complete reviews.
It’s Not About Buying Fake Reviews!
Big stores like Amazon scour products for fake-sounding reviews and get rid of them. Furthermore, Bright Local states that an estimated 54 percent of buyers aren’t influenced by reviews that sound too fake.
The answer is not in over-posting glowing reviews but managing the good reviews you get and trying as much as possible to eliminate or bury the bad reviews. You’re not actually after 100 percent glowing reviews. What you want is credibility with your target audience and independent confirmation of what your sales copy promises.
Ways to Solicit Good (and Honest) Reviews
The solution seems challenging; you need more and very frequent good reviews. By nature, real reviews are honest, not glowing. People describe their expectations and then discuss how the product or service succeeded or stumbled along the way. As long as the company delivered on its promises, then even objective or slightly negative reviews could still lead to sales.
One way to get more positive reviews is simply asking your customers who have been silent to leave feedback. Many people don’t remember this step and will appreciate a reminder. You may get a four or five-star review out of simply asking in an email signature or social media post.
Furthermore, even if your request for feedback gets negative feedback, it won’t necessarily be a bad thing. Requesting feedback shows you are willing to adapt to your customer’s needs and alter the product or sales copy to meet their expectations.
Some companies will send replacement products to customers who shared an honest opinion, even if it was negative. They can’t “exchange” a product for a review, but they can hope that a gesture of goodwill goes a long way in repairing the issue.
Some companies offer an incentive for leaving reviews, good or bad, such as a discount for future products, coupons, or other free stuff. They’re not soliciting reviews; they’re encouraging community interaction—and that’s what gets attention.
Besides, controlling the narrative (you taking charge of consumer complaints and negotiating a compromise rather than ignoring them) is the best way to repair a damaged reputation.
What Sites Are the Most Important for Reviews?
While having your own store reviews is not a bad idea, and addressing negative reviews on your blog does help, the best way to handle reviews is to target high-traffic and high-domain-authority sites.
Google My Business reviews, Yelp, Facebook Reviews, and industry-specific sites like DealerRater or TripAdvisor—these are the sites that matter most. While it’s a nice idea to monitor these sites “live” whenever possible, realistically speaking, it sounds like a full-time job.
The best way for the busy entrepreneur to handle these responsibilities is to invest in an automated review-collecting system.
Using special review software, you can collect good reviews automatically and even distribute them to all of your social platforms, from Facebook to Google to Yelp, Trip Advisor, and dozens of other high-profile sites.
Social media presence is another major factor in determining SERPs. Posting good reviews to your pages and accounts without the need to invest hours daily is one of the best reasons to try review software.
The Benefits of Review Software
The right reputation management program for your business may offer some or all of these features and benefits:
- Automatically send review requests via text and email
- Provide a QR code for customers to scan and leave a review
- Connect with multiple social media platforms
- Run a contest-based review incentive program
- Automatically follow up with emails or texts
- Categorize and customize types of reviews and for multiple products
- Kiosk capability with a tablet or mobile device to provide assistance
- Embed review widgets on your site
- Integration with popular CMS or website platforms
- Import past customers into the system as well as existing reviews
- Compile statistics for online reviews for research purposes
- Dispute or request removal of negative reviews that go against TOS
- Improve overall star ratings with a constant flow of reviews
A bad review here or there probably won’t ruin your business, but learning how to manage negative reviews and promoting good reviews will most definitely improve your business.
But you may think that handling online reviews sounds like yet another thing you don’t have time for. The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone! There are a number of good reputation and review management platforms that you can scale to meet the needs of your business.
Our Customer Voice review request system and Reputation Management software can easily do the trick. Why not try us out for free and see how easy it is to get more and better reviews for your business today?