Picture this – it’s Friday night and my husband and I are trying to decide where to eat dinner. We are rattling off the names of our favorite restaurants before I remember a new pizza place just opened in Old Town.
Before we finalize our decision though, I instinctively reach for my laptop to check the online reviews. If the place has 4-5 stars, I’m sold; anything less than 2.5 stars and I will probably reconsider.
And it’s not just me. A 2013 study from Search Engine Land shows, not only do “85% of consumers say that they read online reviews for local businesses, but 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.”
Reviews are important and they are everywhere.
Have you noticed when you visit a Facebook business page a star rating is featured below the company name? Or when you Google a restaurant, rating sites are among the top results?
The truth is, customers are searching for reviews and, to have a successful marketing campaign, online reputation management is a must.
So, to help introduce the world of online reviews, here are a few basic facts every business needs to know:
1. There are multiple online review platforms.
2. Review pages are not optional.
Even if you have not created review pages for your business, assume someone else has. Review websites allow customers to create company pages if they do not already exist.
- For example: If I had dinner at ‘John Smith’s Restaurant’ and wanted to write a review on Yelp, I would use the restaurant search tool. If the results show that no one else has written a review and the restaurant has not created a page yet, Yelp gives me the option to make one. Not only can I write my review and enter in the business name, but I can also upload photos, business hours, address, etc. And this is true for most review sites. In order to ensure your correct business information is listed, consider posting your business on all the major review websites for when a customer decides to write a review.
3. Review pages can be claimed and managed.
Almost every review website has a business manager portal allowing businesses to take ownership of its pages. This gives a business the opportunity to respond to reviews, quickly update business information, and receive email updates when new reviews are posted.
4. Consider responding to reviews.
While it may seem overwhelming to engage with angry or overly satisfied customers, it is important. People are reviewing your business because they either had an amazing or terrible experience and it’s important to acknowledge them. Once you claim your page, you can respond to reviews via private messages or public comments. This not only helps the reputation of the business with past and current customers, but with new customers as well. Nothing looks worse on a review website than a bunch of angry comments with no outreach from the manager.
Remember, reviews are an important part of developing an online presence and we are here to help! Stay tuned for future posts addressing questions such as: How do I get my customers to write online reviews? How do I claim and properly manager my review pages? and How should I respond to reviews?
In the meantime, if you need help with marketing your business, including online reputation management, please contact our marketing department.