Cole Dalton
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A Guide to Online Reviews

One of the challenges of online reviews is that happy customers tend to keep quiet and unhappy customers want to tell the world. The unfortunate result can be that your prospective customers end up seeing more of the bad than the good.

Why else are online reviews so important for your local business? Online reviews are today’s word-of-mouth marketing, and if people see too many bad reviews about your business, or if you respond inappropriately, it can keep them from becoming customers.

It is possible to deal with the damage that comes with a bad review, but you must know a bad review is there to deal with it effectively. Your business needs to invest in a smart, efficient online review workflow that will not only leverage your reputation, but that will also enhance your rankings and visibility in the search engines.

The good news is that you can manage your reputation so you can have more control over the perception prospects get of your business.

Assess and Respond

Before you start implementing any online review strategies, it’s a good idea to take a look at what people are already saying online about your business. Comb through reviews on sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp, and keep a mental note of what the feedback looks like. There’s a good chance that not every review will be worthy of 5 stars — but that’s ok.

The truth is that these not-so-great reviews can actually give you a chance to wow customers with your service. Respond to these reviews, either publicly or by reaching out in an email. Find a way to make things better and avoid risking customers leaving for good.

Do’s and Dont’s 

Did a conversation get out of hand on one of your social media business pages? Are followers leaving en masse because of a content blunder? Resist the urge to delete posts or go radio silent on social media. Worse yet, don’t delete your business pages! By hiding, your business is giving off the impression that you’ve done something wrong. The root of the issue could be a simple misunderstanding so step up and take accountability. Continue to build up their trust by turning the situation around gracefully. 

There are some circumstances when platforms like Google will remove a review if it violates their terms and conditions. If the review is unfair, from a competitor, uses foul language, or intimidates the business owner or employees, you can report it and Google should remove it.

You should always encourage customers and clients to leave reviews whether it’s through promotional materials, emails, or simply in conversation. However, you should never offer rewards or incentives for leaving reviews. Besides being highly unethical, it’s also illegal to do so as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) prohibits undisclosed paid endorsements which include online reviews. In a similar vein, employees should never leave reviews either.

Be Pragmatic and Realistic

Throughout your journey as a business owner, you’ll likely read, see, and hear feedback about your business that you don’t’ like — and that’s okay too (see above). Take your emotions out of it and don’t make it personal. When you jump to conclusions and respond in anger and frustration, it will inevitably backfire.

Be realistic about what you can control, too. You can’t force anyone to leave a good review or change a bad one, but you can work hard to provide stellar customer service. Not only should your everyday business processes reflect this, but so too should your online interactions.

Dive Into Insights

Online conversations about your business can also offer plenty of insight into your customers’ expectations or how their shopping behaviors might be changing. Look closely at the conversations that others are having about your business and focus on keywords to zero in on how you can meet shifting demands.

Where your customers are spending more time talking about you is also a factor. Have you noticed more reviews coming in on Yelp? Prioritize that platform for advertising and monitoring. Are your social media comment sections on fire? Maybe it’s time to invest in paid ads on that channel.

By building a full-fledged reputation marketing strategy for your company, you can harness the power of what your happiest customers have to say on your behalf. Getting great reviews and knowing how to use them is how you leverage your good reputation and help more prospects get to know, like, and trust you – and ultimately recommend you to their friends and neighbors, too.

One way we help our clients garner new reviews is through our online review campaigns. We identify happy, satisfied customers and encourage them to leave a review on Google, Facebook, or whatever platform is relevant to your business. We do this in a timely and uniform matter so as not to cause a dramatic spike in reviews because platforms might flag the reviews as spam and remove them.

Our online review campaigns ensure that you stay on top of your reputation, get your name out there in positive ways, and deal with any negative reviews appropriately as they show up to minimize their damage.

Do not leave your online reputation to chance – contact us today to start an online review campaign that keeps your business looking great to prospective customers.