As you begin to embrace reputation management as an essential element of a smart online and offline marketing strategy, you may find a few surprises. Having a comprehensive view of the most popular review websites as a result of implementing a review monitoring tool may point to weaknesses on some sites and strengths on others.
Significant discrepancies in average overall scores across review websites can be attributed to many reasons. But regardless of the root cause, it is important that businesses tackle discrepancies to maximize lead generation and improve overall brand image. The goal, of course, is to bring up your lowest score and have it match or surpass your average score on your best performing profile.
The amount of time or resources you invest in correcting discrepancies can be determined by the overall performance of your competitors on the review websites in question. If a business that you consider to be part of your comp-set has better and more reviews than your business on a particular review website where you happen to be underperforming, then tackling the trend becomes a high priority. On the other hand, if overall review volume, traffic, and scores for your competitors are low or non-existent on a review website, you can then prioritize using your marketing dollars and time on other online business reputation-related tasks.
What Are the Root Causes for Erratic Scores Across Websites?
Before you set out to fix a problem, you need to understand what is causing it. In the case of erratic reviews across multiple review websites, the following are the most popular potential causes:
Low Review Volume: Low review volume gives one bad review a higher weight when it comes to tipping the scales of your overall score. Generally speaking, low review volume is the primary root cause of a low average on most review websites.
(Check out: “Ethical Ways to Generate More Positive Online Reviews”)
Failure to Own Your Profile: A poorly managed, unclaimed, or neglected profile is unlikely to receive customer engagement. When it does, it is usually from a disgruntled customer who happens to find the review site and takes the first opportunity they find to vent discontent with your products or services.
Failure to Engage Offline: If you are not seeking ways to secure reviews by promoting the review platform via offline collateral and social promos, then you are likely to have a higher ratio of negative reviews. The bulk of your reviews may originate from customers seeking out a channel for a rant, without the balance of positive reviews triggered by great customer-centric promos or other forms of enhanced customer engagement specifically designed with review acquisition in mind.
How Can You Work on Correcting This Trend?
Implement a Strong Review Acquisition Strategy: Your goal is to generate both volume and quality of opinion. This is achieved by implementing programs focused on the delivery of superior customer experiences in tandem with marketing strategies conducive to online engagement. Engaging fully in the usage of hybrid review sites such as OpenTable will help increase your review acquisition due to the way the website engages in review generation by reaching out to qualified leads while their memory is still fresh. Encouraging reviews is permitted on some review sites and frowned upon by others. Become familiar with their specific policies, and maximize your opportunities to encourage reviews when applicable.
Take over Your Profiles: By taking active ownership of your profiles for the most popular review sites (TripAdvisor, Yelp, OpenTable, Superpages, Yahoo Local, Facebook Reviews, Foursquare, etc.), you will be able to create an interactive environment that furthers your credibility with current and potential customers. Additionally, it equips you to solicit the removal of reviews that are in violation of the standards set forth by each review site.
Finally, by engaging in review responses, you are able to speak to a wider audience, reassuring future customers of your commitment to make things right and willingness to take initiative in delivering superior customer experiences.
Engage Online and Offline: It is a well-known fact that people are using reviews to make buying decisions. In fact, more than 90 percent of people refer to reviews before making a purchase. Take advantage of offline collateral such as stickers and banners. Use your printed material (menus and brochures, for example) to mention your presence on a variety of review sites. If you have access to a review widget, then by all means take advantage of it to flaunt your positive reviews on your own site.
Study Your Competition: If another business directly within your competitive set appears to be doing better on a particular review site, then make it a point to conduct a marketing deep-dive to try to understand what behaviors or strategies are triggering increased engagement. Learn from their practices, and implement similar business moves when appropriate.
When you are an intentional and focused manager of your online reputation, you will quickly begin to see how to make corrections when it comes to erratic scores. Do keep in mind, however, that your reputation is mainly based on your performance and ability to deliver what the customers want, when and how they want it. No reputation management strategy will ever work unless your business is constantly seeking ways for improvement and overall excellence.