How an Online Review Strategy Can Win You More Business

Your Customers Are Probably Already Reviewing You Online

“Critic” used to be a paid position. Newspapers hired out restaurant and movie reviews. Their readers relied on these professional opinions to make buying decisions.

The internet democratized the job of the critic. Platforms sprung up to collect everyone’s opinions on things including products and services. Humans have always relied on social proof and marketers know it is a powerful tool to persuade people to buy things.

Establish-trust-with-reviews

By encouraging your customers to leave reviews, you are establishing trust and building up a reserve of buying demand for your services. Smart small business owners use these reviews to gain an advantage over their competition and to overcome objections in the sales cycle.

With some consumers claiming to read ten online reviews before choosing to do business with a company, if you don’t have a review strategy, you’re ultimately hurting your profitability.

What Can You Do To Take Advantage of the Business Benefits of Online Reviews?

Before consumers make purchases, they “check in” at popular review sites to confirm their decision and to discover all they can about a product or service they’re interested in. And people can review your business on platforms without your knowledge.

It’s critical that you claim your listings on popular review sites, like Yelp and Google Maps so you can monitor what’s being said about your company online.

If your key demographic is under 34, you can’t afford to ignore the powerful role reviews and other customer’s experience contributes to buying decisions.

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Nearly 92% of 18-34 year olds trust faceless online reviewers over personal recommendations from friends and family.

What Makes Customers Take The Time To Leave Reviews?

With so many consumers in key demographics seeking out reviews to make their own buying decisions, it’s only logical that they see the value in leaving online reviews to benefit others.

People like being able to share their experiences. They see social proof as a necessary component of making a purchase and they want to enable others to make good choices. When people see other people enjoy and get results from a product or service, they’re more inclined to make a purchase.

Online reviews put the power in the hands of the consumer. While positive reviews and endorsements are powerful social proof signals, negative reviews are equally as effective at driving customers away.

And reviews don’t just influence purchases on Amazon or TripAdvisor. Reviews also play a key role in signaling to customers where the best places are to shop and do business in their local communities.

Online Reviews Have Other Business Benefits, Too

If you’ve earned excellent reviews online, you’re surely reaping the benefits at the cash register. Positive reviews generate more sales for your products and services.

But online reviews convey other benefits to your business – whether you are a B2B or B2C company.

B2B-businesses-benefit-from-online-reviews

B2C companies earn more consumer trust and loyalty with every 4 star (or better) review they receive. But B2B businesses also benefit from online reviews. Reviews are part of buying cycle for personal and professional purchasing.

Reviews also give you information and insights that can help you improve your offerings or respond to common objections effectively.

By studying your reviews, you can pinpoint places in the customer journey where things are smooth and touch points that could benefit from a little polish.

By reading and responding to reviews, you can open dialogues with your customers and help them close a loop on a frustrating experience. How you handle negative reviews is just as important as getting a positive review right off the bat.

With everyone online consuming reviews, you can be sure that people want to see how your company handles less than “perfect” customer experiences. Showing in public how you resolve problems graciously goes a long way to neutralizing negative reviews.

Online-reviews-have-SEO-benefits

There’s also search engine optimization (SEO) benefits from online reviews. In fact, online reviews are one of the most prominent factors in local ranking. So in addition to creating trust and driving purchases, online reviews increase your online traffic and visibility.

The Right Way To Ask For Reviews (And The Danger Of Fake Reviews)

Customers may have already been reviewing you on sites like Facebook, Yelp, and Google Maps, but it’s a smart strategy to ask for reviews, too.

The truth is, a lot of people aren’t wordsmiths and while they’ll leave reviews, they may not say what you need them to say about your products.

“It was great.”  “She helped us.”

Reviews like that kind of leave you wanting more…and they leave your customers wanting more as well.

If you want to get online reviews that highlight special attributes of your products or services, try asking your happiest customers these five questions:

5 Questions To Ask Your Happiest Customers

Questions-to-ask-your-happy-customers

  1. What problem were you experiencing before you tried our product or service?
  2. What were some of the biggest results you achieved?
  3. What things did you try before you tried our product?
  4. What did you like most about our product?
  5. Would you recommend our product or service to a friend?

Make review gathering a part of your everyday process. Remind customers how important reviews are to them, and by extension to you in growing your business. If you have reason to email your customers after a transaction, make a testimonial gathering email a part of the post purchase follow up. Don’t feel you’re being pushy or forward in asking for reviews.

Most people will willingly leave a review when they’re asked.

Just don’t ever risk your reputation by creating fake reviews. All credibility is lost when consumers spot fake reviews. And protect yourself from review bots that spam legitimate business listings to draw customers to their products by piggybacking off your good online reputation.

If you ever spot a fake review on one of your business listings, report it to the platform immediately and request that it be removed.

Just one fake review can undermine the trustworthiness of all your other legitimate reviews.

Pro tip:  Lots of businesses request reviews with enticements like free gifts or discounts. While this isn’t a “fake review” consider the reviewer’s motivation. Is it really to help a fellow customer or to get a freebie?

It’s a “your mileage may vary” thing. You’ll need to decide if gifting for reviews makes sense for your business. Definitely never buy reviews with offers of payment. That’s always a wrong move.

Use Your Online Reviews As Trust Signals On Your Website

When customers see you have no reason to hide reviews, you demonstrate you’re a transparent, customer centric company that cares about what customers say about your services.

Supplement-sales-with-real-reviews

You can promote reviews and testimonials right on your homepage of your website or on a page dedicated to customer testimonials. Supplement your sales efforts with real reviews from satisfied customers.

Make it easy for customers to review you by providing direct links to your preferred review platforms. When you show your willingness to be reviewed, customers know you are confident in the quality of your products and services and that generates more qualified leads that lead to bigger sales.

Reviewing The Power Of Reviews For Increasing Business

Online reviewing of your business is already happening. Savvy business owners know how to take advantage of the power of online reviews to drive more sales and customer loyalty.

By leaning into the social proof benefits of reviews and creating a strategy about getting better quality out of your customer’s natural desire to help other make good purchasing decisions you can get your business out in front of the competition.

If you haven’t taken advantage of the reputation and bottom-line boosting power of online reviews, now’s the time to start. By harnessing the power on online reviews, you can improve your overall customer experiences, increase online visibility, and raise profitability.