A company’s online marketing strategy should be proactive and multifaceted. Do you have a program in place for handling customer reviews? If not, you should. People are communicating online 24/7 — and making purchase decisions too. Reviews, negative or positive, have a powerful impact on the way your customers behave online. Consequently, this behavior inevitably affects your bottom line.
Customer reviews are definitely a crucial part of your online marketing strategy. Here are the reasons why, and things you can do, starting today, to improve your brand and propel your business goals.
Why Do Businesses Need Reviews From Clients?
The unknown can be scary, intimidating even. When people are deciding where to spend their hard-earned money, they want to know that they can trust not only the quality of the product or service but also the reputation of the company. Customers want to know that you’ll stand by what you sell. This garners invaluable loyalty and trust. On websites and social media, nearly everyone has an opinion about something — and is more than willing to express it. The number of people who trust online reviews is swiftly increasing.
What Impact Do Reviews Have on Business?
Customer reviews have a powerful effect on brand performance. Recent surveys suggest that only about 12% of users online don’t read reviews. Think about the last few purchases you made. What did you do? Whether it is your own site/social media channel, or an external source, don’t you want to interact with that 88%? Either side of the spectrum (good or bad) can yield a significant effect on sales as well as your overall reputation.
What Effect Do Online Customer Reviews Have on SEO?
The basic goal of online marketing is to expand your reach as much as possible. Search engine optimization is a powerful tool to use to expand that reach. Customer reviews do have an impact on SEO. If you have an option on your site for customer reviews, this added original content increases your authority and relevance, leading to a higher ranking in search engines. In fact, you can even micro format your reviews, helping them to appear higher in the results on queries for a particular product or service.
How Do You Get Good Reviews?
On your own site, make sure to have a dedicated and prominent place for reviews. Make it easy. Create a system in place to prompt reviews after purchase too. Most major retailers list their websites right on receipts and even offer customers a chance to win prizes if they go online and rate their service.
On exterior sites, make sure you have a presence. Even though the popularity of Yelp is declining, it is still a valuable resource. Claim your business page as soon as possible if you haven’t done so yet. If you are a services company, register with Angie’s List. Get BBB accredited. If you own a restaurant, register it with OpenTable. If your industry has a specific site or app where business partners and customers can find you, be active and pay attention to the site on a regular basis. And certainly, above all, place emphasis on quality products, services, and full cycle customer relations.
How Should You Respond To Bad Reviews?
Engage with them as soon as possible. The time has passed where business owners can ignore bad reviews. With 24 hour social media, you can no longer “sweep them under the rug.” Employ a dedicated person or team — a best practice would be an individual or group from your company branding or human resource team. Address the complaint with honesty, transparency, and do your best to resolve the problem swiftly is there is an ongoing issue.
Depending on the situation, it may be best to deal with it through other communications. I.e., if you offer gift cards or replacement products or services in a public arena, you could be placing “blood in the water” for other individuals to post bad reviews.
What Else Can You Do To Get Customer Reviews?
Promoting your company through a well-thought-out and dedicated online strategy, with a focus on customer engagement is key. Yes, you definitely have to be reactive for bad reviews. But you should also be proactive to get people talking. Do you have a social media team? A dedicated team is important to have for many reasons, but they can also help to keep your customers active and motivated to talk about your products and services online.
Interactive social media campaigns can be an effective way to get your customers excited. Track your top interactors and facilitate their momentum and impact to the rest of your audience by communicating with them, reposting, retweeting, liking and more. The more they feel you care about them — the more they are going to feel motivated to take the time to write a nice review for you.
It really comes down to good old-fashioned customer service. The game certainly has changed, and people around the world are communicating in entirely new ways. But people want to be treated well and have confidence that the money they spend will be worth it. The easy access of interacting online has projected the power of the bad review, but it can also propel the abundance of a good review too.
Creating a full cycle of care for your customers is necessary for a truly effective online marketing strategy. Represent your brand in the best light before, during, and after purchase and give your customers plenty of opportunities to pat you on the back. You certainly can’t afford to ignore customer reviews, and you can absolutely help to propel your business development goals with an active and concerted plan.