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The Importance of Online Reviews (And How to Get Them)
The way your customers feel about you is more important than it’s ever been. Thanks in large part to online reviews, your customer’s feelings not only inform their opinion — they can inform the views of countless others.
These statistics provide a sobering perspective on online public opinion. It turns out that people are talking about you. Market research firm GWI reported in 2019 that nearly half of all internet users review a product, service, or company at least once a month. If you’re not paying attention to the chatter, you can lose control of the message.
It gets better. According to a survey from BrightLocal in 2020, online reviews are enjoying their widest acceptance ever. Just under 80% of people report they trust them. More impressively, online reviews made by strangers are rated as highly as personal recommendations.
If you’re still not impressed, try this one on. A full nine out of ten people read reviews before making a purchase or hiring a service. That’s 90% of consumers checking what other people say about you before making a decision.
The things people are saying about you (and not saying) start a critical conversation that could end with a new customer, but only if you create an ecosystem of frequent, positive reviews. We’ll discuss the importance of this practice in a bit more detail and then provide a few tips for building your reviews.
SEE ALSO: How to Get More Referrals
ONLINE REVIEWS CAN MAKE OR BREAK YOUR BUSINESS
People, your customers and prospects included, trust online reviews. They’re turning to them for guidance and rating the relative merits of the brands they’re considering. Businesses with a significant number of positive reviews find it easier to convert prospects. Their reputation precedes them.
But maybe you’re thinking it’s better to have no reviews than risk bad ones. It’s an understandable position. After all, a few bad opinions would seem to scream much louder than no opinions at all. But the truth is that having few or no reviews can be nearly as bad as negative examples.
Simply put, sparse reviews says that no one is talking about you. People assume you don’t warrant a mention, negatively or positively. In the eyes of a consumer, whether B2C or B2B, no reviews mean your service is forgettable and worse — a complete unknown.
Consider the implications of the last statistic. 90% of people check online reviews. If they don’t find any, they won’t be able to form an opinion. They won’t be leaning away from you, but they won’t be moving toward you either. They’ll simply pass you by, lured by competing companies and the active conversations they’ve spawned online.
Of course, you’ll want to avoid negative reviews. A few profoundly bad ones can sink your brand. But this points to the importance of good customer service. If you’re communicating effectively with your customers, you’ll head off most issues before they fester into bad reviews. These complaints can be dealt with if you respond quickly and work to improve the customer’s problems.
This all points to the final benefit of having a large number of positive reviews. They crowd out and overpower the occasional bad one. People are far more willing to forgive even overwhelmingly bad reviews if they’re surrounded by loads of good ones. Consumers will simply assume the poor examples are a blip.
Do you still think it’s safer to avoid reviews?
A STRATEGY FOR BUILDING HEALTHY ONLINE REVIEWS
The following statement might sound obvious, but the practice is far less common than you might expect. If you want your customers to start reviewing you online, you simply need to ask.
Business owners and managers often won’t request reviews because they’re afraid to offend their customers or presume to tell them what to do. This isn’t something you need to worry about. If your customers like you, they’ll be happy to spread a good word online. And if they’re not your biggest fan? Asking them for a review isn’t going to change that.
But if you’re offering stellar customer service, most of your customers will love you. Certainly more than enough to outweigh the occasional detractor. It can be an uncomfortable conversation for some. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to ask for reviews that aren’t face to face.
USE THE COMMUNICATIONS YOU’RE ALREADY SENDING
Make a habit of asking for reviews at the end of your emails, social media posts, direct mailers, and even your business cards. The more often your customers see the request, the more frequently you’ll receive reviews.
Leverage Handwritten Cards
Handwritten cards are warm and approachable. You can use them to thank your customers for their business and ask for a review. This most personal of mediums provides an open door for your customers to sing your praises. Check out how Simply Noted can automate the handwritten process.
Create a Landing Page
You want to make it as easy as possible for your customers to post good things about you. One way is to create a landing page that promotes the importance of reviews and includes a simple web form for submitting them. Add the page’s URL to all of your review requests.
Links to your profile on various review sites, like Yelp, Foursquare, and Yellow Pages are worth adding to your page. And of course, you’ll want to point your reviewers to your Google My Business account.
Haven’t Set Up Your Google My Business Account Yet? Do It Now!
Your Google My Business listing is an essential addition to your online review strategy. If you haven’t claimed yours, do it soon. Be sure to fill out your profile completely. Google rewards thoroughness and may ding you for missing information. Then direct your customers to your listing. My Business reviews offer multiple benefits:
- They provide positive word of mouth
- They boost your overall SEO scores
- They drive local search results
Profiles that are chock full of reviews give Google extra grist for search results. If someone says, “I love the cheeseburgers at this place!” and another person searches for cheeseburgers in their area, you’re more likely to show up in their results.
HOW TO USE YOUR REVIEWS TO PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS
Having a large number of reviews on all of the major platforms is a benefit by itself, but you can actively promote yourself with them as well.
Place your most glowing reviews somewhere conspicuous on your website. Testimonials are an excellent way to build credibility. While you’re at it, add them to promotional brochures and other marketing collateral. Social media is another great venue for showcasing customer praise. If you have a physical location, there’s no reason you can’t turn some of your best reviews into attractive posters.
You should leverage reviews to build trust everywhere you encounter prospects and customers. They provide social proof that you are what you say you are and that you’ll keep your promises. That is worth its weight in gold.
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