Did you use Yelp to find the right spot for a business dinner the last time you were traveling? Have the Facebook reviews you’ve seen for a local business ever inspired you to take your business elsewhere? Research indicates ninety-one percent (91%) of people read online reviews and eighty-four percent (84%) of those online review readers trust what they read as much as they trust recommendations from friends. So, is your business actively soliciting online reviews as part of its digital marketing strategy?
Regardless of whether or not your business is actively soliciting online feedback from customers, you likely have reviews floating around the internet. It is critical for businesses to actively search the internet for online reviews to ensure misleading information or comments/questions that should be addressed aren’t sitting unattended. It is critically important for brands to demonstrate awareness and responsiveness to those who are leaving online reviews. A negative experience that went unaddressed or blatant misinformation can be damaging to your brand and it is important to proactively address these instances if or when they occur.
So, what makes online reviews so powerful?
Online reviews are authentic. Be they negative, positive or neutral, online reviews are unapologetically authentic. From the loyal customers who dine at your restaurant twice each week to the tourist who happened upon your museum during vacation, what these stakeholders have to say matters. Online reviews are a powerful form of peer-to-peer communication that delivers commentary about a product or service outside of the lens through which a brand communicates about itself. Losing the “filter” can help stakeholders to build trust in brands. Unfortunately, it can also erode trust, in some instances, unnecessarily.
Online reviews come from like-minded consumers. When it comes to niche audiences in particular, an online review often offers the perspective of a like-minded consumer. For example, if you are a young parent looking for a summer camp or preschool for your child, it is likely those leaving online reviews for providers of these services share similar wants and needs. The power of this concept stems past online reviews and over to influencer marketing, where bloggers and social media influencers often impact consumers’ decisions to try and buy.
How do you encourage people to leave online reviews?
Remind people without badgering them. Whether it’s a sentence on their receipt or a sign in your waiting room, find ways to remind people that you appreciate online reviews without being pushy. Something as simple as “Did you have a great visit? We want to know about it. Share your feedback on Facebook or Yelp.” can have a big impact on helping to generate online reviews.
Time your “ask” accordingly. Did your association recently finish offering a training program that attendees really enjoyed? Is there a seasonality to your business that makes September the right time to solicit client feedback? Identifying and seizing timely opportunities that surround positive experiences that people have had with your brand can both make asking easier and yield a higher number of reviews because people are still “in the moment.”
Are online reviews really that important?
As mentioned earlier in this post, of the 91 percent of people who are reading online reviews, 84 percent trust what they are reading. In addition to being the equivalent of a peer group’s seal of approval, online reviews are also among some of the first matches that are returned when someone runs an online search for a brand. If a low rating makes the first impression, it may deter people from clicking through to your website or taking the time learn more about your products and services.
When implementing an online review strategy for your business, focus on finding loyal stakeholders who understand who you are, what you do and the value your product or service provides. Then, take the time to identify the best way and time to approach them to solicit their feedback. Lastly, ensure you are consistently monitoring online reviews for any false or unflattering commentary and taking the time to respond appropriately. It’s also beneficial to acknowledge positive online reviews to show clients and customers that you appreciate their feedback and the time they took to share their perspective.
Now, is your business ready to secure some online reviews?