The business world is shifting as it finds there are areas of marketing online that are a must. Thanks to e-commerce and search engine technology, the growth of online businesses and sales has exploded over the last decade. This has been exacerbated even more by pandemic restrictions and changes in shopping trends as the typical consumer now flocks to online platforms to seek products and services.
With this trend of increased online interactions comes online reviews. Word of mouth now goes much farther than it ever has before, and the online reputation your company has is everything. As a business owner, a customer review, positive or negative, can have a significant impact on sales and online reputation as they are unfiltered and are shared with a wider audience, especially on social media. Think about it. When was the last time you went to a restaurant, dentist, or vacation rental that had a 3.5 star rating? When a business has no ratings at all, what do you think about that business?
An online customer review is not something that can be left to their own devices. While positive reviews are beneficial, negative ones can do damage. But let’s face it. Every business will get a negative review sometimes. That’s inevitable. With a proactive review requesting cadence, you can generate enough reviews to drown out any negative reviews.
It should be noted that a negative review can be helpful in targeting company issues that need to be addressed or improved upon. Whether a company is big or small, someone needs to be monitoring these online interactions and not only watching what they are saying and replying when needed. How can this be done well? Finding the proper online review management service can assist.
What are Online Review Management Services?
Understanding what online review management services do is important when deciding whether your company needs one or not. These services are used to monitor, analyze, respond to and generate reviews of your company and brand across multiple platforms that offer product and service reviews. An online review management services’ goal is to support a company’s marketing strategy while increasing sales and overall business performance.
This is critical for any company that is online. The online world is vastly different compared to the old-school way of selling. Research about online behaviour shows that customers are looking to read reviews before they complete a purchase, especially on bigger ticket items and services. These same studies are saying that a negative review will convince over 90% of customers to avoid that business altogether.
In a business world where extraordinarily little is running the same way as it did 2 years ago, each business has to work to maintain and improve its online presence. Whether the company is big or small, online reviews mean a lot and can have a direct impact on not only your business reputation but revenue as well.
Reasons to Engage an Online Review Management Service
While there are business people who think they can handle their company’s online presence as a small area of their job, in reality, it is difficult especially as a company grows. The more interactions a business has with people, the more work has to be done to maintain a healthy and positive online presence. Running a business while trying to maintain a good online presence isn’t easy. Many online comments and replies need quick attention to make sure that negativity doesn’t perpetuate, and it can be dealt with quickly and efficiently. If you are running a business, being able to do this easily isn’t always possible, but online review management services can do that. Here are some things that can be monitored by these services:
1. Your customers will be talking online – There is no way around this. Online shopping and discussions are going to happen, and people want reassurance about brands that they can’t see or experience in person. Potential customers are going to be looking for online reviews before they fully commit themselves and their money to a purchase. They want to know about the product or service, what others think and all the details they might ask if the buy was in person. Online review sites such as Yelp, Google Maps, TripAdvisor, Amazon, and brand sites all open the door not only to customer advice but experiences both good and bad.
This particular route to market is critical, especially when looking at younger demographics. Many trust online reviews as much as they do as if someone told them in person. Over 90% say they are influenced by what they read online when it comes to deciding about their purchase. This means closely monitoring what’s being said online about your company is critical.
2. Customers want to tell their stories – When someone leaves an online review, they are telling the story about their buying journey and experience with you as a customer. This has become even more prevalent when people are trying to support local or living on limited income due to outside circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Reviews and stories offer social proof of a product or service to other potential customers. While this sounds like it may not have an impact, stories with details do.
Social proof offers credibility to products and services when people are looking online for goods or services. The greater the number of people commenting and talking, the greater the impact of the stories and statements. This becomes even more effective when a celebrity jumps in and offers a positive take on something. This can happen in the opposite way as well. Negative stories can drive people away as they don’t want to risk their money on a product or service others have had trouble with.
3. Positive reviews – This is a good reason to work with an online review management service. Positive reviews help sell your product. If you have numerous excellent reviews, people find that comforting and will worry less about buying online. Positive reviews increase customer trust and spending. It also lets customers have a direct line to the company. They offer feedback and insight into their customer journey. It allows a business to work on problematic areas while highlighting ones that work well. Having an online conversation with a customer shows that the company is responsive and takes action when needed. The third benefit of good reviews is that they will move your business up in the search rankings online. Customer reviews carry a heavier weight in organic local searches. This goes for negative reviews as well so having a service in place that can address these things quickly is imperative.
4. Negative reviews are costly – A bad review can be very problematic. Many customers will not engage with a brand that holds under an average of fewer than 3 stars and if you have a 1 or 2-star rating, your business is in trouble. A well-written but bad review can convince people to avoid a product. We all know there are people who can get irked at a company or that competitors may post false reviews and that is why it is important to be on top of those things when they happen. One glance at a review can lose the company a sale. If there are multiple poor reviews, then the percentage of lost sales rises even more.
While online reviews need consistent monitoring and management, you also need a service that understands where these reviews are being posted and what needs to be focused on. Platforms that are the most used are Google My Business (now Google Business Profile), Amazon, Facebook, YELP, TripAdvisor, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Manta, Angie’s List, Yellow pages and Foursquare. Review sites that are more specific are Facebook company pages, videos on YouTube, and more industry-specific sites such as TripAdvisor, Expedia, Airbnb, and industry sites that target hospitality, property, services, weddings, computers, and trades.
Online review management services are also pros at weeding out fake reviews. False reviews will impact your company’s credibility and lead customers to think they are real. This is bad whether the review is good or bad. A fake good review can call a company’s integrity into question and put other reviews in doubt, and a fake bad review can cause you grief as people may trust it as a solid review. Online review management will be able to see if:
- The reviewer has profile information and consistent reviews.
- Do they have links to a third-party site or their products so they can draw people away from yours?
- Are they using repeated or short messages? If so, it may be fake reviews. Non-specific details may be part of this as well.
If a service sees this, they can report it immediately and possibly get the review removed so it won’t affect sales.
More Advantages of Review Management Services
While online review management services will monitor online content, they can also encourage positive feedback. As an example, they can:
- Get customers to submit online reviews. They will encourage your customers and explain the importance of reviews to the product. If customers are asked, they are often glad to leave a review to help a company out. But you have to ask!
- They will help a company respond to all good and bad reviews. If someone takes the time to offer a review, then a response should be made. A service will help make sure that responses are measured and on-brand. Professionalism is critical. A good response to a negative review can help and offering further help off-line may reassure others that you are looking to put the customer first.
- Help with transparency. Sharing online reviews that are real and meaningful is important. Adding comments from the company helps as well so people can see that you use feedback to learn and improve service. Offering opportunities for reviews on your webpage and answering them clearly offers not only transparency but instills confidence as well. An online review management service can help with all of this.
- They can pull good reviews to be shared both in and outside of the company. Finding reviews that mention the product by name can allow you to link your site and can allow for natural endorsement. It is one thing for a company’s website to make comments about a product but is more influential if the comments are from satisfied customers.
Hope this helps! If you have any questions about this or any other digital marketing-related topic, feel free to reach out!
Online company sales can not just be a basic presence. As more and more business transactions occur online, a company has to do its best to show that it is helpful and trustworthy. If you are a small business or one that is extremely busy, finding time to make sure the business’ online persona is stellar isn’t always easy. This is where an online review management service can take over and help a company work to create a positive online presence. Monitoring multiple platforms for both positive and negative reviews needs to happen as does good interactions with all customers who leave input.
Review management services can also filter the material online allowing you to use it when it comes to recruitment and linking with other partners for greater visibility, or direct a company to work toward closing the loop on negative reviews. They allow a company to learn and highlight how they work to turn a customer’s bad experience into a positive one. Doing this humanizes the brand and works to show the company’s employees how to take action and work to improve their customer service and experiences.
While many companies will just sweep one or two bad reviews out of sight, this is not something that should be done. Customers need reassurance that good reviews are solid and that they are investing their money well. They want a good product or service that is not only worth the money but is going to be hassle-free. They also want reassurance that if there is a problem it will be dealt with in a helpful manner quickly, efficiently and politely.
Companies can do all this on their own, but it makes sense to hire an online review management service. These professionals not only know what they are doing but they understand the online market. This means they’ll be able to deal with potential issues quickly and effectively. Using these services can tie into your marketing and customer service teams. They’ll make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to addressing online reviews in a positive and healthy way.