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Hand touch on mobile phone to add five yellow stars to customer evaluates products and services. Customer satisfaction and marketing survey rating concept.
8 min read

How do I manage customer reviews and online reputation?

A business’s online reputation is extremely important, with online being the principal way we discover and research products/services. This article will look at how you can build this into your marketing strategy and incorporate online reputation management into your day-to-day operations.

Why are customer reviews important?

The world of online shopping can feel busy and confusing. Online reviews give power to customers to tell their side of the buying story, providing social proof that reassures (or warns!) other customers before committing to a purchase.

  • They influence consumer decisions. (93% of consumers claim online reviews influence their purchase decisions)
  • They can strengthen a company’s credibility
  • They gain customer trust for a brand. (88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations)
  • They encourage people to interact with a company and build a relationship
  • They shorten the time to make a purchase
  • They can improve your SEO positioning. Online customer reviews gain more weighting (6.47%) in organic local searches. What customers say in their reviews also matter – ‘Negative Sentiment in Google Reviews’ is a negative ranking factor
  • Encouraging, monitoring and replying to customer reviews helps enhance your online reputation, which can lead to a loyal customer base and increased sales
  • Products with five reviews are 270% more likely to be bought than a product without, according to Speigel Research Centre. For a higher priced product, this likelihood increases to 380%
  • According to Statista, 90% of UK consumers check online reviews before buying from a business. 94% often avoid businesses below a 4 rating.

Where can customers leave reviews?

Customer reviews can be left in a variety of places, not just on review forms or sites. 

  • Facebook on smartphone
    Facebook

    Facebook is a popular choice of platform for people to get quick information about your business. Users can read reviews and even view pictures that people have tagged your business with. Ensure your Reviews option is turned on within your Facebook business page and keep a close eye on posts and comments that mention your business as these also act as reviews.

  • Twitter mobile
    Twitter

    Twitter isn’t necessarily the place to go for reviews, however it’s great for providing fast information to followers. A lot of businesses use Twitter as their customer service base and, if used effectively, it will help establish the relationship between you and the customer, encouraging positive reviews on other platforms.

  • Close up of Instagram on smartphone
    Instagram

    Instagram is much more visual and provides an environment for customers to post long, detailed reviews that are provided with good quality images. Most brands will choose to re-gram users that have posted something about their brand, creating more of a community feel.

  • Google
    Google My Business

    Every business should have a Google My Business listing. It’s one of the most important directories to be part of. If someone Googles your business, they’ll be able to view key business information within the search results such as your address, contact details and link to your website. It’s also a place where customers can view other customers’ reviews of your business. Your Google My Business profile is where you can access a link to share with customers to review your business.

  • Google Maps

    Anyone with a Google account can leave a review and add ratings of places they’ve visited on Google Maps. Ensure you monitor your reviews on both Google Maps and Google My Business. Replying to positive ones and addressing negative comments shows you’re a responsive business that cares about its customers.

  • Hand touch on mobile phone to add five yellow stars to customer evaluates products and services. Customer satisfaction and marketing survey rating concept.
    Review sites

    Trustpilot, Tripadvisor, Reviews.co.uk, Yelp, Checkatrade… Keep a close eye on relevant review sites to ensure you’re responding to both positive and negative reviews. Actively creating, and engaging with, positive online conversations about your brand can encourage others to participate in that conversation, and generate more buzz and visibility for your business. This engagement can also impact search rankings as Google will be more inclined to list reviews in search that receive high engagement. If a negative review is ranking for your brand term in search results, you must ensure you’re visibly addressing the review to show consumers you’re on the case and (if appropriate) clearing up any misinformation.

Is it worth using review sites?

Review sites have an incredible amount of persuasive clout when it comes to encouraging or deterring consumers from making a purchase. For example, on average, a one-star increase on Yelp leads to a 5-9% increase in a business’s revenue.

Having a presence is important; however, ensure it’s the right fit for your business before commencing, as some industries receive more reviews on these sites than others e.g. hotels, restaurants, etc. If you’re a specialist B2B company, you might find a number of these consumer-driven review sites aren’t appropriate for your offering, and your time might be better spent writing business growth case studies from current clients and marketing them to prospects via LinkedIn ads.

How do I get customers to leave reviews?

Positive reviews remain a key way for companies to sell their products, with customers willing to spend 31% more on a business with excellent reviews. Encouraging regular reviews from customers should be part of your ongoing marketing strategy. According to Statista, 48% of UK consumers only paid attention to reviews written in the past two weeks.

Often, people are more likely to leave a review in bad circumstances – so how can you proactively get them to review your business when things go well?

  • Newsletter notification
    Marketing

    Don’t be shy to ask for reviews in your marketing channels. It shows confidence in your product/services. (77% of consumers would be willing to leave a review if asked.) Set up automated emails to request a review a week or so after purchase when it’s fresh in a customer’s mind. Schedule regular social posts, clarifying how quick and easy it is to do, providing the link for ease.

  • Ecommerce Website
    Ask for reviews on site

    Don’t be shy asking for a review while your customer’s in store – have tablets available with your preferred review site or social platform open and ready so it’s quick and easy. Position it as part of your strive to ensure you have happy customers, whose feedback you value. Good reviews need encouragement.

  • Teen girl doing homework on her laptop
    Utilise review site tools

    Spend time understanding the most popular review sites that are relevant to your business offering. Many work with businesses to encourage reviews (and therefore sales!) as a result – a win-win for both. For example, you can create a company profile page on Trustpilot (they tend to rank well in your brand search terms), and set up automated review invitation emails, making it easy for your customers to leave feedback.

  • Tired freelancer working at home
    Remember: Keep it real and be prepared not to please everyone

    Gaining your customer reviews organically will be time-consuming, but, in the long-term, much more effective. People don’t trust perfect reviews, because no one is perfect, so don’t be too concerned about 5-star reviews all the time. Reviews made by real customers will contain grammatical and spelling errors, suggestions, and negative opinions. The point is, real reviews will be written by real people, not bots or trained professionals. 

How do I use reviews and testimonials to improve sales?

  • Marketing

    The more you promote your reviews, the more prospective customers will trust your brand to make a purchase. Previous customers will also be encouraged to make a return visit (and hopefully leave a review themselves!). Here are some marketing tactics you can employ:

    • Promote positive reviews across your channels in an engaging way, such as a designed, eye-catching image or video
    • Keep promotion consistent to show your company isn’t a one-review wonder
    • Take advantage of social media hashtags such as #TestimonialTuesday and #FeedbackFriday to widen reach
    • Add reviews to your website (details below), email marketing and pay-per-click advertising
    • Have a strong relationship with a client? Would they take their review to the next level and agree to a case study that you could promote? (Subject to industry / offering.) 

    Don’t forget to keep a close eye on Google Analytics to see how your review content is impacting your traffic and goal conversion on your website. It will help you understand whether your audience is responding well to your review content.

    Top tip: Never forget the marketing power of your email signature. Why not include a review here, linking back to the reviews page on your website or preferred review site?

  • Highlight reviews on your website

    Consider placing a couple of reviews right on your homepage. If you have reviews for specific items, publish them on each product page including eye-catching star ratings. You can even add an entirely new page dedicated to housing glowing testimonials with a link in your top navigation bar. Ensure you feature them on your site in a way that works best with your offering.

    There are also a number of widgets you can employ to integrate reviews instantly into your website, such as Elfsight Google Reviews and EmbedSocial. While it’s possible to link to review sites, you’re directing consumers away from your website. By integrating your reviews, you’re keeping them on your platform and taking them through the purchase funnel. Utilise your marketing channels to promote the review sites you’re looking to increase reviews on, they’ll then be pulled through onto your website via your integrations.

    Top tip: If you have reviews on your site, ask your web developer to look into Schema.org Review type – adding this to your website encourages Google and other search engines to add your review/s as rich snippets within search results (and even the Google Knowledge Panel).

  • Claim and respond

    According to a large-scale study by small business SaaS provider, Womply, businesses that didn’t claim their listings on key sites such as Google My Business, averaged $72,000 (approximately £53,000) less in annual revenue. Claiming listings on key sites enables consumers to find and engage with businesses more readily. Another finding is that consumers appear more inclined to buy from businesses that respond to online reviews. This may be because they assume those responding to reviews offer better service. According to the study, 75% of businesses don’t respond to their online reviews. But those that do earn considerably more revenue.

  • Local reviews

    There’s also evidence to suggest that online reviews are the primary way to choose where to shop locally. Nearly all consumers (97%) now use online media when researching products or services in their local area. If your business relies on local customers, keep in mind local marketing tactics that inspire engagement and reviews that can encourage footfall.

What do I do if I have a poor online reputation?

Things don’t always go to plan. What is best practice when it comes to managing bad reviews and online feedback?

Studies show that a customer is more likely to leave a review after a negative experience than a positive one. Negative reviews can have a dramatic, and sometimes detrimental effect on a business.

45% of UK consumers are more likely to visit a business that responds to negative reviews. But how do you go about it, without rocking the boat, publicly?

  • Take a breath. Never respond in frustration – think about your words carefully
  • Respond promptly and acknowledge the complaint
  • Apologise and empathise
  • Take responsibility and provide an explanation if needed
  • Correct inaccuracies 
  • Highlight your strengths
  • Write like a person, not a corporation
  • Take it offline
  • Make it right. Provide restitution if it’s warranted
  • Ask loyal customers to share their experiences
  • Be consistent
  • Understand how Rating and Review sites work in order to respond quickly

Establishing an emotional connection with customers is shown to provide 23% more revenue than with a non-engaged customer. You might have an unhappy customer in the first instance, but consider what they could become if you handle their situation fairly – including in front of those who are reading your reply on a public platform. An opportunity to display excellent customer service.

The amount of time you dedicate to managing online reviews is very much determined by the type and size of your business. As discussed, B2B companies might find a case study outreach campaign that’s marketed on LinkedIn to be more effective in reaching their target audience, compared to a Google Maps or Facebook review. However, your online reputation, no matter what your industry, must be monitored and managed with clear guidelines on how to respond to both positive and negative reviews. How you handle difficult situations within public forums is just as important as promoting positive messages as part of an effective marketing strategy.

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