The Power of Online Reviews for Local Businesses
Online reviews are one of the most trustworthy signals to any potential customer making a purchase decision; even one review has the power to drive sales like no other marketing strategy. In this post, I'll look at why online reviews are so important, share some tips on how to get more reviews for your business, and look at how to respond to negative reviews.
The Importance of Online Reviews
Most consumers today look at online reviews before making a purchase. Basically, people want to read about what other consumers think about a product or service before making any commitment. Just take a look at Amazon. Its review system is arguably one of the main reasons for its continued popularity with consumers, and it's a model that many other ecommerce sites have replicated.
According to a study by Nielson, around 88 percent of those surveyed trusted online reviews as much as they'd trust a recommendation from a friend or family member. Most people read several reviews before they make a purchase decision, so the more reviews you can get, the more likely you are to get a more rounded opinion of your business or products.
How to Get More Reviews
It sounds obvious, but the most effective way to get more reviews from your customers is to simply ask. Start from the initial contact with customers – when they first arrive on your website, or walk in through your door. Let them know that you appreciate their feedback. You could even offer an incentive for leaving a review, such as automatic entry into a prize draw.
Another time to ask for a review is after the sales transaction. If customers make a purchase from your physical store, put reminders on the receipts. If you're an ecommerce business, include a slip of paper with every shipment, reminding people that you appreciate their feedback.
Finally, find out where your customers are already posting reviews online. Use search engines or social media monitoring tools to discover where people are already talking about your business or products. You can then focus your efforts on encouraging reviews on these sites, providing it's within the rules of the site.
Quick strategies to get more reviews:
- Post more reviews on your website, and display them in-store
- Include a call-to-action on every web page encouraging user reviews
- At the end of the check-out process, state that customer feedback helps to improve your business
- Display signs at your business location, encouraging feedback on social media
Why You Should Respond to Negative Reviews
Whether you like it or not, people will talk about your brand online, and you're likely to get the occasional negative review on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google My Business, or another platform. If you ignore these reviews, you're missing a huge opportunity to put the record straight or give your side of the story. Respond more to customer comments and it shows you care about what people think about your business, and that you want to put things right.
Responding to Negative Reviews
- Authentic complaints should be addressed as quickly as possible. Acknowledge the problem and look into the situation. Let customers know what you will do to resolve the situation.
- Dubious complaints (ones you think may not be genuine) should also be responded to. Politely ask for more details, or tell your side of the story.
- If you can put right a situation because of a genuine mistake, do it as soon as possible. Apologize, explain how you will put it right, and say that you value customer feedback to improve your business.
- If a review makes you angry, wait until you've calmed down. Angry responses only make you look unprofessional and uncaring.
- If a review is on social media, don't let the comments get out of hand. Once you've acknowledged the issue, try to steer the conversation away from the public domain. In other words, invite the customer to contact you directly.
- Learn from bad reviews. Keep records of negative reviews, so you can identify recurring complaints and take action to mitigate future problems, therefore keeping future customers happier.
The Bottom Line
For any business with an online presence, the power of customer-written reviews cannot be underestimated. By now, you should realize that developing a strategy for responding to online reviews can make a big difference to your online reputation and future sales. It may seem like a daunting prospect initially, but with planning and dedication any local business can reap the rewards from online reviews, identify problems, and maintain a largely positive online reputation.
If you want help with online reputation management, or you simply want to strengthen your online presence, I have the knowledge and experience to help your business. Get in touch today, with no obligation.