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by Kathryn Good

Your Guide to Online Reviews

The importance of online reviews is coming up in most of our client meetings these days. Everyone wants to know how to get more stars in front of their business name in search engines and how to make sure potential new customers read good things about their business. 

It’s not difficult to wonder why these questions are coming up given recent stats from BrightLocal

  • 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
  • 7 out of 10 consumers will leave a review for a business if they're asked to
  • 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business
  • 54% of people will visit the website after reading positive reviews
  • 73% of consumers think that reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant
  • 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
  • 58% of consumers say that the star rating of a business is most important

Let’s face the facts - people are reading reviews before they ever meet you or come to your business. They are judging you online before you get the chance to do so in person. So, it is important to make a good impression. How do you get started? Let’s cover some of the basics.

What are online reviews?

The opportunity for a customer to leave their positive or negative opinion of your business online. Popular reviews spots are Google, Facebook, and Yelp, but there are lots of other review services. 

Why are they important?

  • Increase search engine rankings
  • Increase search click-thru rate
  • Increase trust in the business
  • Increase number of potential clients

How can my business get reviews?

  1. Provide excellent customer service. Give them something they want to talk about … in a good way, of course. 
  2. Reach out to very loyal clients and friends. If you don’t have any reviews, it can be harder to get them rolling in. Explain the importance of reviews to a few very loyal customers and friends and ask them to leave a review. 
  3. Follow up a purchase or service with a survey. Develop a survey that asks three questions: What did you buy? What did you think? Would you buy again?  Email after service or purchases and ask them to complete a survey. Communicate that you value your customers’ feedback and want to improve their experience with your business.  Make sure to open and close with appreciation. 
  4. Take feedback one step further. When someone gives you positive feedback, say thank you and ask them to take it a step further by leaving an online review.
  5. Set up a reviews page on your website. This URL should look something like www.yourwebsite.com/reviews. On this page, leave instructions for writing a review and links or feeds to current reviews. PRO tip: use this fantastic tool to give people a direct link to your Google reviews: Grade.us
  6. Design and print in-store signage and handouts. If you have a store presence or are regularly meeting with your customers, consider creating print materials. Even a business-card size handout can give the URL of your reviews page, a message asking for feedback, and your company logo.
  7. Add calls to action to your digital marketing. On your homepage and maybe in the website footer, add a call to action that says “Give us Feedback” or “Let us Know What You Think” and link to your reviews page. Add similar calls to action to social media and email marketing.

A few don’ts:

  • Don’t buy fake reviews. Test for fake reviews here: http://fakespot.com/ 
  • Don’t offer incentives for reviews. It’s against the guidelines of Google and Yelp. 

How should I respond to bad reviews?

  • Solve the problem early. Be sure to listen to dissatisfied customers before they ever turn to leave a review online. Often complaints will come over the phone or in person before online. 
  • Take a chill pill. Relax about the bad reviews, and be sure not to take it personally. Every business deals with dissatisfied customers at some point; a few bad reviews make your business look more authentic. 
  • Respond quickly. Be sure to offer a response as quick as possible after the review is posted, but make sure to not respond out of anger. Put yourselves in the customer’s shoes and try to be understanding.  
  • Go offline. Often it is necessary to take the matter offline by asking them to call or email you or private messaging them. Avoid back and forth conversation on your review platforms.
  • Do your best to solve the problem. Once offline, try to resolve the matter in a positive way. The customer will often remove or update the review after a successful fix. 
  • Respond to all reviews. We find that replying to both positive and negative reviews can decrease the number of negative reviews. If people know you are reading it and will respond, they are typically less angry or won’t post at all. 
  • Get more reviews. Bury the bad reviews with positives one. Again, a bad review here and there isn’t bad because no business is perfect, but we want the positive ones to outnumber the negative. 
  • Get better. Improve your business or product to stop new bad reviews from coming in. Take the opportunity to listen to the feedback and get better. Often negative reviews with the same subject are helpful in revealing an underlying business problem like bad customer service or high prices.

A few more tips for online reviews...

  • Start now. Don’t wait until you have negative reviews that you are trying to bury. Now is the time to develop a reviews strategy. 
  • Repurpose your positive reviews on your website, in social media, email marketing, etc. 
  • Monitor reviews regularly. Missing one is easy. If you need help in this area, Keystone has services that can make review management a little easier. Contact us to learn more.