Online reviews posted on sites like Google, Facebook, Yelp, and TripAdvisor play an important role in consumers’ purchase decisions. This makes it critical to have online review management as part of your overall marketing strategy.
By managing reviews, you can protect and improve your business’ online reputation, boost your search engine performance, and foster brand trust among existing and potential customers.
What is Online Review Management?
Online review management is the business process of monitoring, analyzing, responding to, and generating reviews across multiple online review websites, usually with the aim of supporting a company’s marketing strategy and improving overall business performance.
Research found that 72 percent of customers won’t take action before they read reviews. According to the Online Reviews Survey, 94 percent say a negative review has convinced them to avoid a business.
Whether you’re managing a small business or an enterprise-level organization with hundreds of locations, it’s clear that online reviews have a direct impact on your business reputation and revenue.
3 Action Items for Managing Online Reviews
We came up with this beginner’s guide to help you discover actionable strategies and approaches in online review management. Here are the four most important action items:
- Respond to online reviews
- Use the reviews that you get as marketing assets
- Ask customers for reviews
Respond to Online Reviews
Success in managing online reviews starts with the commitment to becoming a responsive business.
Make sure you respond to negative and positive reviews. Thank positive reviewers for taking the time to share their feedback, and make sure to personalize the response and reinforce the customer’s positive experience.
As for how to respond to negative reviews, remember to address valid feedback and remain empathetic to show your business cares about its customers. Avoid delays in responding. The sooner you can get back to your customer, the greater your chances of improving the situation. It’s also useful to guide the reviewer to your customer support resources, which can help you solve issues immediately and protect customer relationships.
44.6 percent of consumers are more likely to visit a local business if the owner responds to negative reviews (ReviewTrackers Online Review Survey).
For companies with multiple locations represented by multiple listings and profiles across multiple review websites, responding to reviews presents a challenge — especially without an effective online review management program in place.
Online review management software can solve this problem and help your business stay on top of what customers are saying. You definitely don’t want to have to log in and out of every review site manually. Once reviews are posted, the clock begins ticking, and customers are eager to hear back from you.
Use Reviews as Marketing Assets
Online review management can work in perfect harmony with your overall marketing strategy. That’s because reviews can help inspire trust in consumers who go online to discover businesses.
- Reviews can help your business rank higher in search results. In fact, they’re top 3 in the list of Local Pack / Finder ranking factors.
Incorporating reviews into your marketing materials — whether it’s on your website, Facebook business Page, or search ads — can have a major impact on the results of your efforts. Using review widgets to embed or display online reviews from your review profiles to your own website can even improve your conversation rates, decrease bounce rates, and improve your ad quality scores.
Ask Customers for Reviews
Many businesses think reviews will generate themselves organically over time. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
Your online review management strategy can make a much bigger impact if you have effective ways to proactively reach out to customers for reviews.
If you’re just getting started with ways to ask, email should be at the top of your list of channels. As much as 70 percent of reviews come from post-transactional review request emails. Other channels used for review requests include: SMS, customer surveys, review landing pages, and review request automation software.
Make sure you keep things simple and make it easy for customers to write and publish their review.
- Learn how to create a Google review link
- Ask the right survey questions
- Use SMS text survey templates for your review requests
- Avoid incentivized reviews, and don’t buy reviews
Important note: not all review sites allow businesses to request reviews from customers. Ensure that your efforts are in compliance with each individual review site’s guidelines.
Online Review Management is Your Key to Marketing Success
Successful brands and marketers have learned to manage reviews in ways that attract customers instead of drive them away.
You’ll notice that based on the action items listed above, the essence of online review management really lies in your ability to engage with customers, listen to what they’re saying online, and show appreciation for their feedback. With the right approach, you can use online reviews to support your marketing strategy, outperform your competitors, and make a positive impact on the bottom line.