The Chair 10 Marketing Guide to Online Review Strategy
The world of word of mouth advertising has moved to the internet. According to Search Engine Land’s Study “79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.” Reviews have become an important piece of the internet marketing puzzle. It’s important to understand how they work, what you can do as a business, and how to win the online word of mouth advertising game.
The Magic Numbers To Get Visibility
Take a look at this search engine results page from the query “Mexican food Seattle”
The featured businesses on the carousel at the top include the Google review rating as well as the number of reviews. In order to have the orange star infographic, you must have at least four to five reviews. Google will rank your business higher if you have at least 10-20 reviews. In the example above three of the four top organic results are from review sites: Yelp and Urbanspoon. Reviews are playing a key role in getting clicks and customers. In fact, MOZ.com estimates that reviews account for roughly 10% of the Local Search Ranking Factors. It’s a large slice of the SEO pie that warrants any business owner’s careful attention.
Reviews and your Reputation
Reviews make or break your online reputation. Consumers expect to be able to see a review for every kind of business. This may be a scary thought, especially if one unhappy customer decides to write a novel about how you’re a terrible guitar instructor.
Now, your entire online reputation has been defined by one client’s experience! However, hope is not lost; you just need a clear review strategy!
Don’t be shy. Ask for reviews!
Chances are if you’re still in business, you have some satisfied, happy customers out there. It’s not awkward to ask for a review; customers know how important they are. The reviewer doesn’t have to be your #1 fan to write a review. The important thing is to get a large number of reviews. You will be pleasantly surprised to find many customers would be happy to write you a review. The unfortunate reality is that most people who will proactively find a place to write a review are the unhappy campers. For this reason, it’s important to suggest happy customers write reviews as well.
All Talk, No Reviews
You may be asking away for reviews and nearly every customer is enthusiastically agreeing to write you a review! Great! That was easy! And then they don’t write one.
People are busy and forgetful. You may need to do any or all of the following:
- Ask them many times
- Call them
- Email them
- Give them an informational handout on how to write a review
- Remind them that you really value customer feedback the next time you see them
- Have links to review sites on your website or email signature
- Consult with an internet marketing company to get help monitoring your online reputation
Of course there’s a fine line between being an awesome review advocate and being really annoying. Most people don’t mind a reminder, but trust your gut: if it feels like you’ve called too many times, you probably have.
Don’t Let the Filter Get You Down
There’s nothing more irking than getting an awesome review and watching it waste away in the “Filtered Reviews” section. Many review sites filter out suspicious reviews if they’re biased (made by the owner, for example), spammy, made by a user with no review history, or made by someone who is not local. For example if I live in Chile, this is my first review, I’m reviewing my brother’s window business in Omaha, and I violate a few Google Local Review Policies, I’m probably going to get filtered.
It is a well-intentioned effort by the review sites to weed out reviews, but they occasionally get it wrong. There’s not much you can do about this once they’re filtered. But there are some ways to avoid the filter in the first place. The best approach is to focus your energy on consistently getting more reviews.
Which site is the best?
The list seems to keep growing of sites where people can review a business. Entire blog posts have been written on the subject. While Yelp and Google seem to have the most pull, getting a review anywhere is a good thing. Don’t be picky about the review site they choose. Let them use whichever site they use the most. If they have an established and active profile the review has less chance of being filtered. If they ask which site to use find out if they have a Facebook or Google+ account, then point them to a site that will use that account.
Embrace the Reality of Reviews!
When you get a negative review, it’s easy to become frustrated and wish this world of online reviews didn’t exist. The fact of the matter is: reviews are here to stay.
Luckily, there aren’t that many people on a mission to ruin honest, good businesses through bad reviews. Having nothing but perfect 5-star reviews looks fishy to review sites and consumers; variety is good! Reviews give a voice to any and every one. Use that to your advantage and simply outnumber the bad with the good. Make a constant effort to obtain reviews and in time you’ll have a star rating that reflects your customer satisfaction. It’s important to grow your number of reviews on a steady and gradual basis. Review sites pick up on spikes in review numbers. If all of the sudden you ask every customer and family member to review your business on one weekend, all those kind words in the reviews are headed straight to the filter.
Interact with your reviewers!
Respond to reviews you receive, both good and bad! It may seem like a good idea to ignore negative reviews and hope viewers just look at the good ones. However, according to a Dimensional Research study “86% of negative reviews have a direct, negative impact on purchase choices.” View a negative review as an opportunity to showcase your excellent customer service skills. Be sure to promptly apologize for the negative experience and offer a clear way to fix the problem. This will show any future customers viewing the review that you value customer feedback and make an effort to acknowledge the reviewer. In the same way, responding to positive comments shows that you appreciate the time and effort they put into promoting your business. Be sure to promote positive reviews on your social media sites as well. I recently reviewed one of my favorite restaurants. Within two hours of posting the review I received this:
Is it an automated response? Maybe. Do I care? No. I feel appreciated!
Chair 10 Marketing Will Help You Learn To Love (Online Reviews) Again
Reviews bring you leads! It’s not uncommon for business owners to hear “I found you guys on Yelp.” Or Citysearch. Or Trip Advisor. Or Facebook. Some review sites may even reward you for having the best ranking on their site! It’s free advertising for you and if you don’t take advantage of it, a competitor will.
They say 80% of success is showing up. In the review world, 80% of success is asking for reviews. If you’re making a consistent effort to obtain reviews, you’re doing your business a huge favor. Of course, your primary goal should be ensuring your have a healthy business with great products and excellent customer service. If you have that, the reviews will follow. And you can always get help and consult with Chair 10 Marketing to discuss our many reputation management options. We can help with claiming your profiles on review sites, calling and emailing customers to get reviews, responding to reviews, and setting up notifications so that you are always in the loop. We can help you adopt a 5-star review strategy and win the online word of mouth advertising game. Click here to get in touch with us and learn more!