Competition is tough, bad news spreads much faster than good news and most entrepreneurs try their luck online where it’s hard to stand out. How can one succeed in this tough market?
The old recipe of combining quality services with traditional marketing, search engine optimization and social marketing still works, but actually obtaining results takes a lot of time and effort or some customer reviews.
How Do Online Customer Reviews Help Businesses?
Nowadays, online reviews make or break businesses and it is easy to understand why. It is obvious that buyers will stay away from any business with bad reviews, but how do positive reviews help?
- They draw potential buyers. Internet users are more likely to check out a business with a four- or five-star rating than one with no rating.
- They turn prospects into buyers. When people read about other buyers’ positive experiences, they gain confidence in the business and the products or services it offers. The buying decision follows naturally.
- They help improve the business’ position in the search results. Businesses with positive reviews are listed with priority by the search engines.
Otherwise put, good reviews guarantee quality products and services, they inspire buyer confidence and they consolidate a business’ position in search engine results pages (SERPs). Businesses with poor reviews or no reviews will either go unnoticed or be ignored by their target customers.
Now that the value of positive reviews is clear, the most important question is how to obtain them.
Three Steps to Obtain Positive Reviews
Getting customer reviews isn’t hard, but it is hard work. You are most likely already doing a lot of the work, so you’ll just have to make small changes to see big results.
1. Ensure Customer Satisfaction
Positive reviews are obtained from satisfied customers, so the first thing every business needs is a few satisfied customers. The funny thing is that satisfied customers are far less likely to post reviews than unsatisfied ones.
This is why it is important to identify not only satisfied customers, but unsatisfied ones as well. This could be accomplished through periodical online and phone surveys. The results will reveal what aspects of the business need to be improved and can be used to counteract client dissatisfaction.
Finding the Best Review Websites
With so many review websites out there, covering all would be impossible and ineffective. It is better to identify the most important ones for each business and focus on them, at least in the beginning. How to identify them?
- Company and Brand Name Search. It involves searching for the name of the company and of the brand online, with and without the words “review” and “reviews” in the search query. The purpose is to identify any existing reviews and their character. Websites with several reviews are a great starting point for anyone trying to build more reviews.
- Non-Brand Keywords Search. Searching for keywords relevant to the business and its location online will reveal, among others, the most important review sites covering businesses in that field.
- Industry Leaders and Competitors Search. The search should lead to websites hosting reviews of the competition. These, again, could be the starting point of any review-building campaign.
The results of these three searches can be compiled in a short list covering the review sites on the first positions in the search results for several queries, as well as the sites already hosting reviews of the business.
The next step is to drive customers toward those review sites, but, before that, it is important to make sure the company profile is up to date.
2. Get Customers to Post Reviews
Because some review websites do not allow businesses to request reviews from their customers, the terms and conditions of each site should be reviewed. Assuming that the review site does not prohibit requesting reviews from customers, the next step is to get those reviews, and here are a few of ways to do it:
- Creating a Webpage Linking to the Most Important Review Sites. The webpage can include links to the company’s profile on those review sites and a call to action, a message encouraging customers to check out the existing reviews on the company.
- Including Links to the Review Sites in the Company Website and Email Signatures. The same message encouraging customers to check out the company’s reputation can be added on the company website and in the email signatures.
- Handing Over Business Cards and Flyers. Make sure they include the URL of an important review site. Customers will most likely reach the site in search of reviews and end up leaving theirs.
- Asking Clients. Clients can be asked to submit reviews by phone or email.
3. Turn Negatives Reviews into Positive Ones
All businesses get negative reviews sooner or later. In fact, a business with lots of positive reviews and no negative reviews would look suspicious. The trick is to keep the number of negative reviews under control and use those reviews to improve the services or products offered.
Try to contact unsatisfied customers and address their issues. Sometimes the best and strongest advocates for a business’ service are unsatisfied customers who become satisfied after you’ve given them personal attention and solved their problem.
Customers will treasure a company that cares about their satisfaction, admits its faults and goes the extra mile to improve its services. What matters is to show commitment to client satisfaction and progress as far as the number of positive reviews vs. negative reviews is concerned.