Everybody understands the concept of reviews. People try products like eye glasses, interact with local businesses, or remodel their homes (for example), and then they share that experience online. As consumers, reviews are extremely useful when we’re doing product research – which 81% of shoppers do before making any major purchase, such as replacing a roof or building a new addition onto the house.
As a society, while we still give more weight to the opinions of our close friends and family, we have come to rely on the Google- or Yelp-style rating systems to help us decide everything from which dentist to choose to which plumber to call for a quote. We’ve learned to sift through the information and search for verification and group agreement. After all, if 200 people said the business owner was friendly, smart, and trustworthy – he probably is. This system aggregates all of the available consumer reviews into a star rating that saves us time and aggravation as we scroll through the internet.
As a business owner, reviews can take on a slightly more sinister quality. Especially when you’re just establishing your brand or when you’re working to build your online presence, it feels like one bad review can make or break your business. After all, even if it’s just one bad review, if you only have 5 reviews, that’s 20% of the visible opinion of your brand!
Luckily, there are several online review management strategies you can implement to combat a negative or non-existent online presence. The most streamlined and effective way to manage these strategies is to use a well designed online reputation management software. But first, let’s talk about the value of reviews.
The Value of Reviews
You know that reviews are important to your business. An electrician with a 5-star rating is much more likely to get a call from a new customer than one with a 3-star rating – you get it. But for many business owners, it can feel like they have no control over the review process or outcome.
For small businesses especially, the reputation management process can start to feel time-consuming and ultimately fruitless. There are so many platforms to track, reviews to respond to, and people to reach out to! And often, while angry customers are quick to write a nasty 1-star review, your delighted, happy customers don’t seem to be as motivated to write a glowing 5-star review.
But even when it feels like an endless, unrewarding slog, online review management is a key part of your brand’s reputation management and growth strategy. Proper online review management can help you learn from your customers, give you new insights about your business, improve your local ratings, and help you attract new customers while retaining your current ones.
Reviews by the Numbers
According to the 2018 Online Reviews Survey, 94% of consumers say an online review has convinced them to avoid a business. On the flip side, 94% of people will use a local business if it has at least a 4-star rating. And 90% of people say that their decisions are influenced by positive online reviews. These are staggering numbers that, as a business owner, you just can’t ignore.
Even more staggering is this number:
For every +1 star increase in your rating, there is a 5 to 9% jump in revenue.
That’s the equivalent of one negative review costing you 30 customers.
So now you understand the full power of your reviews…but how can you take control of them?
Online Review Management Strategies for Success
There are three major steps you can take to get control of your online reputation and increase your number and quality of reviews:
- Respond to reviews – positive and negative
- Put a process into place for collecting new reviews
- Leverage social proof in your sales and marketing efforts
Responding to Reviews
Businesses that respond to reviews see, on average, a ¼-star increase in their average rating. There are actually multiple reasons for this increase, but they are all based on simple human psychology.
Firstly, people are less inclined to leave negative reviews for businesses that respond to reviews. It makes the people who work there more real and takes away some of the anonymity that comes with being on the other side of a screen. Basically, it’s harder to be nasty when you know someone will read and respond to it.
On the flip side of that same coin, people leave 12% more reviews for businesses who take the time to respond; notably, they leave more positive feedback. This is why it’s so important to say “thank you” and respond to your positive reviews as well as address your negative ones! People like to feel important and like their business matters. Let them know that it matters to you, and you’ll reap the rewards ten-fold.
And, most interestingly of all, 67% of people who leave negative reviews will update or delete them if they receive a response. That’s HUGE. If you have three bad reviews out of ten and two of them are erased, your rating could increase by an entire star just like that. And all you had to do was respond! Often, offering to fix the problem or an apology was all that person wanted in the first place. People want to feel heard. So listen to them.
Create a Process for Online Review Management
When you are creating a process for online review management, you have to take into consideration how you will track all of the review platforms for your industry, who is accountable for responding to those reviews in a timely manner (preferably same day) and how they will respond, how you will track and follow up with your customers to request more reviews, and how you will aggregate and interpret the analytics and insights these reviews provide.
That’s a lot of work, especially for a small business where the person accountable is usually the one-person marketing department – if not the business owner themselves. This is where a well-designed, fully fleshed out reputation management software like Surefire Local’s all-in-one local marketing platform comes in handy. The Surefire Local Marketing Platform cuts a lot of this workload out for you by:
- Gathering all of your reviews across multiple platforms on one, easily accessible dashboard
- Giving you your average star rating across your entire online presence
- Allowing you to send first-party (your website) and third-party (Google and Facebook) review requests to one or multiple customers
- Letting you send friendly reminders to those customers to whom you’ve sent requests
- Gathering and displaying insights about how customers view your business through word-cloud visualizations and other analytics
You can save a tremendous amount of time and money by consolidating your online review management processes into one cohesive program. You can set up triggers for email or text campaigns that request reviews from your clients, set up alerts so you can respond to new reviews in real-time, and watch how your efforts impact your overall SEO score and local rankings.
Leverage Social Proof
Now that the 5-star reviews are flowing in and you no longer fear the negative reviews, you have real control over your online presence. And that means it’s time to leverage all the results your hard work has won! Your good reviews and star rating are what’s called “social proof.”
Social proof is a phenomenon in human psychology where people tend to conform to the actions of the group. The reason we do this is simple evolutionary logic – if everyone else is doing it, it must be safe and/or good. In marketing, we use social proof to ease the minds of worried or undecided customers. They are trying to decide what business to use, and you help them make up their mind by advertising your 5-star ratings.
Use snippets and screenshots of your 5-star reviews on your website, on social media, in your email newsletter, in videos and commercials, on flyers and pamphlets – anywhere you’re marketing physically or online. High ratings are reassuring for consumers – they are proof that they are making a wise decision.
Make sure that you are their next good decision by leveraging your social proof precisely and relentlessly with the tools that the Surefire Local Marketing Platform provides.
Using Surefire Local’s Online Reputation Management Software to Level Up Your Brand
Surefire Local is an all-in-one marketing platform that can help you develop and maintain efficient, effective online review management strategies, boost your SEO and search engine rankings, increase your social media presence, clean up your business directory listings, manage your content, organize your lead generation, and provide you with meaningful digital marketing analytics.
Online review management is just one part of your overall digital marketing strategy, but it’s a vital one that touches and affects every other component. Taking control of your reviews means taking control of your brand’s online presence – setting the tone of your company’s voice and how you interact with your customers. Surefire Local is here to help you ensure that one bad review doesn’t define your company’s reputation. Grow your influence and your revenue with our online reputation management software. Contact us to find out more, today.