The Rising Value of Online Reviews

 In online marketing, online reviews

5 StarsThere is an online currency that’s value is increasing at such an exponential pace people doing whatever they can to get their hands on them.  “Oh yeah, that Bitcoin stuff” you say? Nope. 5 Star Gold Reviews for Businesses.  It’s true.  And now that you are aware of their value, surely you will notice them more.

Why Should I Pay Attention to Online Reviews of My Business?

Starred reviews have become more prominent on Google as of late (especially now that you can use schema coding to highlight them to anyone searching your brand). Additionally, Facebook has also joined in the act, pushing Business ratings and reviews front and center on Facebook Business Pages.  Other sites, such as Yelp, ZocDoc and Angie’s List, have been around a long time, but are enjoying a new level of importance as social sharing tools have helped these sites grow, and businesses cave in to pay for better search rankings – it’s a vicious circle that will only get worse – or better… depending on how you manage your business reviews.

You may not have time to chase down every review of your business, but you should, at the very least keep close tabs on a few.  Google, Yahoo, and Facebook are the sites that are of high value for good reviews.  If you have time to track your reviews on Yelp and Angie’s List terrific.  But if you can only concentrate on a handful, pay attention to Google, to Facebook and to Yahoo.

4 Steps To Making the Most of Your Online Reviews

Once you’ve decided to make a concerted effort in tracking (and hopefully even improving) your online business review ratings….

Step Number One:  Brace Yourself

The first lesson you will learn is that people are very quick to leave a bad review if something annoys them about your product or service, but very few people take the time to leave a good review unless you have gone over and above the call of duty.  It hardly seems fair, but you can’t really argue against human nature.  You can only adapt your strategy to it.

If you haven’t been keeping an eye on how many stars you do or do not have on Google or Yahoo or Facebook, then be prepared it isn’t always pretty.  If you haven’t been paying attention, it is entirely possible that your competition has taken advantage of this and hired people to post bad reviews.  It’s also possible that bad reviews are legitimate complaints of things that you thought were not that bad or important.

What Do I Do About Fake Reviews?

Hopefully the ongoing saga between a Yelp Reviewer and a Washington DC Contractor (read more here) will help make it more difficult (or at least discourage) false reviews that are sometimes facilitated by rival businesses, or personal enemies, or maybe even just someone bored and surfing the web.

Fortunately, more sites (including Google) are taking drastic measures to make it harder and harder for people to post fake reviews, but as of yet, there is no perfect system. (See more HERE)

In the meantime, the worse thing you can do if you see bad reviews is to react with negativity – no matter if you know them to be fake or not.  Public Relations 101 dictates that you can turn this opportunity into a chance to turn around perception of your brand simply in the way that you approach the reviewers who have given you a less than flattering review.  If there is a way to reach out to them and make an offer for a discounted return trip, or to delve further into their experience to try and “right” things and have them reconsider giving you a better review then do that.  But remember, do not be baited into reacting negatively.

Step Number Two:  Campaign For Strong Positive Reviews

You have a solid, steady clientele that returns year in and year out to your business.  These people are in your corner, and appreciate the work you do for them.  Do not be too shy to ask them for a review.  You will find that most people will be happy to give you a review, and simply haven’t because they either didn’t think of it, or did not realize how important it could be for your business.

If you feel as though asking for a review would be bothersome, then make it a simpler process.  Invest in a small tablet computer and allow people to use it while on the premises in order to give you a review.  Depending on your business you might ask clients directly, you may ask your receptionist to ask them if they are willing to give you a review before they leave, and then to offer them the tablet on the way out (this is great for doctors and medical offices – provided people have not been in your waiting room already for an unreasonable amount of time).

Some people may not want to log into their own private account in order to give you a review (they would have to in order to give you a Google or Facebook review).  So solicit on multiple fronts.  Feel free to use your social media accounts to solicit reviews (make it easy and give people a link of where you want them to go).

If you have a monthly or weekly marketing email – ask people for reviews in an email.  Include a “call to action” button with a link that will take people directly to the page to leave your review.    In fact, you could keep this permanently in the footer or a sidebar of your email template so that people always see it.  You could also include a polite request for reviews in the signature of your email.  Something along the lines of “Have I done a good job?  Please leave me a review here: “ and then the link to your Google Local business page.

Step Number Three:  Make Those Reviews Count

Now that you have a solid number of positive reviews, and your 5-star rating is solid and you are proud of it, leverage those online reviews.  You can use schema coding to make sure that they show up if someone searches your brand name.

Love looking at those 5 star reviews?  Put a snippet of code on your site so that everyone who visits can see that you have great reviews from your client base!  Take a screen shot and post them on your Facebook page for everyone to see.  Tag the people who left you good reviews (if you know them) and thank them!  Social media is the perfect place to share the fact that you now have 5 star reviews from your adoring public.  The best thing about social sharing your review rankings?  You may inspire other happy clients to give you reviews, or to share your good rankings via a shared post or a comment on your post.

Step Four:  Be Vigilant in Tracking Your Reviews

You have worked hard and taken time to ask clients for reviews, and to make the most of your status as a great local business in your area.  Make sure you set a reminder on your calendar once a week to check your listings across the most important sites and monitor your rankings.  It is surprising how quickly even one poor review can affect the status of your 5 stars. For more information on online reviews, reach out to our experts at Premiere Creative. Call (973) 346-8100!

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