Why Online Reviews Are So Critical
Online reviews are a key factor in the success of any business. They reflect the quality of your products and services, shedding light on your overall customer experience. Reviews reveal the true nature of your culture and ethics by how you respond to positive and negative feedback. Reviews even influence search engine rankings by rewarding companies with higher user-generated content and web engagement, thus increasing visibility. But perhaps the two most important reasons you should take reviews seriously is they help you build trust with potential customers and dramatically impact conversion rates. For example, a recent study found that listings with positive reviews increased conversion by 51% compared to listings with no reviews. What’s more, consumers trust online reviews as much as trusting a family member’s or friend’s recommendations.
Companies that implement a strategic review campaign ultimately have superior brand visibility, increased profit, and jump ahead of their competition. At See Deep Local, we specialize in providing our clients with a comprehensive digital marketing plan, including reputation management. We are proud to work with businesses of all sizes, from ma-and-pa shops to large entities with thousands of locations. Don’t hesitate to contact us today to learn how we can help grow your business.
Review Quantity, Velocity, and Diversity
There are three vital components your company should focus on to build a successful review campaign: quantity, velocity, and diversity. Each is equally important and, if implemented correctly, will equate to a larger digital footprint and higher conversions. As a best practice, your company should create its review strategy based on the following:
Review quantity refers to the total amount of reviews your company has across all reviews platforms. Studies vary, but the general consensus is consumers read a minimum of five reviews before making a purchasing decision. This means, at the very least, your company needs a handful of reviews to give consumers enough information to make a favorable purchasing decision. It’s important to remember that each business varies in size, so larger companies need more reviews, especially those with multi-locations.
Review velocity refers to the frequency at which your company gets new reviews. Consumers tend not to read reviews farther back than three months, which means current reviews matter. So, if you need at least five reviews to influence a purchasing decision (as detailed above), you should, at a minimum, get approximately two reviews per month to make sure they are fresh. Again, depending on the size of your company, you will need to adjust your strategy, especially if you have numerous locations and products. It is as simple as asking at point of purchase, a follow-up email or text message.
Review diversity refers to the type of reviews or number of stars. A common misconception is consumers only trust businesses with a five-star rating. Interestingly, some studies suggest consumers find five-star ratings untrustworthy because they seem manufactured, and perhaps a 4.5 – 4.9 rating is more effective. Therefore, when building a successful review campaign, ask for quality feedback from your customers. They will appreciate your desire to learn more about your business. Some customers will provide five stars while others four stars, giving you a more balanced and natural-looking review portfolio.
Which Review Sites Should You Focus On?
Consumers rely heavily on reviews to make decisions about products and services. If you are viewed as a trusted industry leader, customers will continue to purchase your product and refer you to others. However, with so many online review platforms, which should your company focus on to grow your review base?
There is nothing wrong with getting reviews on as many platforms as possible; however, your company should aim for reviews on sites that convert. Conversions can mean different things. Sometimes they refer to customers directly purchasing your product or service, but they can also mean increased visibility. Google, Yelp, Amazon, and Facebook are the four major review platforms you should focus on (detailed below). It’s important to note that all major platforms are now penalizing companies with fake reviews, so make sure your review portfolio is organic.
Google My Business
Your review quantity, velocity, and diversity on your Google My Business profile will help increase the chance for higher local search rankings. According to a 2018 study by Moz, reviews were the third highest-ranking factor for local map packs and 7th for organic. This means high-quality Google My Business reviews boost the probability of ranking in two places on the first page of search results.
According to ahrefs, Yelp is the 10th most visited sight in the U.S., with 139 million visitors per month. Although Yelp is not a search engine, it is critical to claim and optimize your business profile on their directory and get as many positive reviews as possible. Yelp is also considered a trustworthy review website because they frequently delete reviews deemed to be fake.
With 2.9 billion monthly users, as of July 2021, Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world. By setting up a Reviews Tab on their business page, you can easily gather reviews from anyone with a Facebook Profile. Facebook is not a directory and certainly not a search engine; however, it is a place where people regularly check reviews before purchasing. In a study by Statista, Facebook ranked third on the list of online review sites, only after Google and Yelp.
Amazon reviews only apply if you sell products on their platform. If you fall into this category, it is crucial to bolster your Amazon reviews. Consider a consumer deciding between two products on Amazon. One has multiple negative reviews, while the other has a 4.5 Star rating. Which are you going to choose? Reviews also boosts your search ranking within Amazon per their A9 Algorithm.
How Do You Get More Online Reviews?
Now that we’ve determined reviews help bolster brand visibility and increase conversions, it’s imperative to implement strategies to gain high-quality reviews. It’s important to remember that building reviews is difficult and takes time. If taken seriously, actively pursuing reviews from happy customers should be on the top of your marketing department’s to-do list. Below are several strategies we recommend at See Deep Local to gain more online reviews.
Engage With Your Customers
Too often, we let clients walk out the door without having a meaningful engagement with them. If you are sure a client has had a positive experience, you do not necessarily have to ask them for a review every single time. Simply implementing better in-person and online engagement techniques will naturally turn happy clients into reviewers. Small things like training employees to refer to customers by name upon checkout create a more personalized touch (FYI, their name is on the credit card). If a client purchases a product online and you happen to have their email address, send a customized thank you. By implementing a better customer experience, people will be more inclined to want to help promote your business by leaving positive reviews.
Share Your Reviews Links
Often, customers don’t want to leave a review because they find it complex or too time-consuming. Make their life easy by emailing or texting the review link. The big four review platforms, as detailed above, each have unique ways of sharing the leave a review link. Typically there are different ways of finding the link depending on mobile versus desktop. Here are Google’s instructions on how to share your Google My Business review link. You can also put all of your review links in a personalized email or text and send them to customers whenever appropriate. If you regularly send a newsletter blast to your customer base, you can also leverage email marketing to share the links, as well.
To incentivize customers to leave reviews, you can create special coupons, discounts, or gift cards in exchange for their feedback. Sometimes you can offer a promotion for leaving a review even if they didn’t purchase something. For example, if someone decides not to buy your product because of the price, you can offer them a complimentary item in exchange for their feedback. However, some platforms like Yelp, frown upon stimulating review volumes unnaturally.
Why You Should Regularly Monitor Reviews
How and Why You Should Reply to All Reviews
Monitoring review is only half the battle; now, it’s time to take action. When customers leave a review, the tone is either positive, negative, or a combination of both. Each type of review deserves a dedicated reply to address the content within the review. Also, by engaging with reviewers, you have the unique opportunity to build customer engagement and let them know you care and want them to feel heard.
Positive reviews should always be met with gratitude and appreciation. Ultimately, the goal is to establish customer loyalty. Remember, a repeat customer is as important as a new customer.
Negative reviews should always be addressed with respect. Their experience with your business might not have been positive; however, there is an opportunity to save the relationship and perhaps get a second opportunity at earning their trust and future business. Additionally, by addressing the customer’s concerns and taking an apologetic position rather than defensive, there is a chance the customer will remove their review. Also, remember above how we mentioned potential buyers read five reviews on average before purchasing. Well, they read negative reviews also. So, if a new, potential customer reads a negative review that you replied to respectfully, they might find it appealing.
Mixed Reviews tend to be the most honest and objective. Whereas one and five-star reviews typically carry a single narrative, two, three, and four-star reviews usually have the best feedback. They, therefore, have the most opportunity to learn from. Be sure to address both the positive and negative, and thank the customer for their business.