Let’s talk about how reviews can build your online presence.
Some businesses are still reluctant to embrace online reviews posted on sites like Yelp, Google, Facebook, and TripAdvisor for a number of reasons.
Maybe one of the previous comments they saw had caused a little PTSD. Perhaps there aren’t enough reviews coming in for management to make a fuss about. It could also go the other way: there can be too many reviews to manage, and make sense of, or maybe the business simply doesn’t see the value of trying to care about reviews.
This shouldn’t be the case for any brand. If you want to build your company’s online presence, market your brand effectively, create a loyal community of customers, and drive business performance, you must recognize that reviews help your business grow, and should therefore be part of your strategy.
Use Reviews to Build Your Online Presence
The customer’s first point of contact with a brand is most likely online.
With the exception of special business categories like gas stations or convenience stores, consumers today prefer to use online tools to discover a new product or service, or to find relevant information about a business.
- According to the Online Reviews Survey, 63.6 percent of consumers check reviews on Google before visiting a business.
This is why you need to build your online presence on as many digital channels as possible. A website is a great place to start, but to truly stay competitive, you also have to be present on business review sites, local listings and directories, social media sites, and other related channels.
Reviews Influence Purchase Behavior
Few customers will consider your business if you don’t have reviews at all. People today rely on reviews to validate their purchase decisions. 72 percent won’t take any action before they read reviews. 94 percent say a negative review convinced them to avoid a business.
Industry research suggests that there are four primary factors that consumers consider when they’re reading reviews:
- Recency: How recent are the reviews?
- Consistency: How consistent are the reviews? Do the comments touch on similar themes and patterns?
- Supporting materials: What additional information is available? Are there photos, videos, and other explanatory material that accompany the review?
- Authority: Is the review website itself authoritative and trustworthy?
Use Reviews to Improve Your SEO
If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with traditional search engine optimization (SEO) tactics like keyword research and link building. But did you know that you can also leverage reviews to build your online presence and improve search performance?
According to Moz, online review signals — quantity, velocity, and diversity of reviews — are considered one of the top seven factors influencing how and where a business appears in organic local search results. Reviews matter even more in determining Local Pack/Finder rankings: they’re the top 3 factor.
When embedded or displayed on your website, reviews contribute to SEO by improving your on-site content density, increasing triggers for search engine crawlers, and improving your ranking for long-tail searches.
The more high-quality reviews you have across multiple business review sites, the higher your rankings will likely be in search engine results.
Reviews Convert Your Best Customers into Brand Ambassadors
Having a community of happy customers vouch for your business is the best (and most cost-effective) way to build your online presence and generate the kind of exposure that you might not be able to get through traditional marketing strategies.
That’s why it makes sense to embrace reviews and develop a strategy for managing them.
Put your best reviewers in charge of your brand. They can become ambassadors who will help you build brand trust and authenticity. 45 percent of people will unfollow a brand if they do too much self-promotion, but you can be more effective if you implement reviews as user-generated marketing content, which 79 percent of consumers say highly impacts their purchase decisions.
Even Negative Reviews Can Be Good for Your Business
Any business owner will tell you that a one-star rating or an unfavorable customer review can feel like a punch in the gut, and it’s totally natural to feel that way. But remember: online reviews (even the bad ones) serve as valuable feedback from customers who want to share with you their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. You can use this feedback to accelerate improvements and solve customers’ problems.
Maybe a negative online review will make you realize that the wait times at your office are too long, that the furniture in your hotel rooms really do need a 2020 update, or your showroom team really needs more product training.
Whatever customer issue is at hand, you won’t know its full details until you embrace online reviews and truly listen to what customers are saying.
How to Build Your Online Presence and Reputation Using Reviews
Let’s explore the ways you can use reviews to create awareness and keep your business top of mind.
- Claim your review profiles
- Respond to reviews
- Analyze reviews for insights
- Promote your reviews
Claim Your Review Website Profiles
Getting listed on online review sites is one of the most effective ways to build your online presence and reputation. It also brings you closer to nearby customers:
- 53 percent of searchers typically visit a business within 48 hours of performing a local search. Photos (24 percent), reviews (21 percent), and position on local search engine results pages (SERPs) are the three things considered “most important” by local searchers.
By claiming your listing on business review sites and local business listings, you improve your search engine performance and increase your business’s visibility to new customers. Greater visibility brings higher local search rankings, which leads to more store visits and sales.
Respond to Reviews
When customers take the time to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences via a review, the least you can do is respond. The worst thing you can do is ignore the review.
According to research, 53 percent of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week, but 63 percent say that a business has never responded to their review. Moreover, 45 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to visit a business that responds to negative reviews.
Use Review Insights to Improve Customer Experience
Similar to how brands are extracting insights from social media comments, your business can analyze reviews to gain insights on what customers really think. By tapping into your precious review data, you can gain a better understanding of your online reputation and make smart decisions that will help your business grow.
You can tap into your review data using customer experience analytics. This enables you to understand, in seconds and at scale, what customers really mean when they share their thoughts in their own words. With instant insights, your organization can make actionable changes.
Promote Your Reviews
“Like us on Facebook” and “Follow us on Instagram” messages can grow your business presence and reach on social media. But don’t forget to let your audience know that they can find and review your business on online review sites, too.
This helps improve your online visibility, while also demonstrating your openness to customer feedback. Some effective promotion strategies include:
- Adding links to your review site profiles and business listings in emails, newsletters, and printed literature
- Utilizing review widgets and social media integrations
- Placing review site collaterals (TripAdvisor certificates, Yelp stickers and window clings, etc.) in your business locations
Your Customers are Looking for Reviews
It makes sense for every type of business to take advantage of, instead of ignore, online reviews. New brands and fledgling businesses, in particular, need to build their online presence and grow their reviews in order to be discovered and considered by customers.
Traditional marketing and advertising tactics can still be effective, but they are not enough to make a business stand out. You need to effectively grow your online presence and reputation, and customer reviews can help in the long run.