45 percent of customers say they’re more likely to visit businesses that respond to their reviewsOnline Reviews Survey
According to EmailExpert, for every dollar spent on email marketing, businesses have a return of $44.25. This is not a laughable amount by any reasonable measure. It can be further optimized by using your email campaigns as a means to optimize other marketing facets of your business organization, from ongoing promos to encouraging social media and review site engagement.
In fact, studies conducted by McKinsey & Company found that email marketing is 40 times more effective than Twitter or Facebook when it comes to securing customer engagement, making it the ideal tool to push parallel campaigns that are meaningful to your business. (Not yet using emails as part of your marketing arsenal? Learn the basics from VerticalResponse.)
If you already have an email marketing campaign in place (and we hope you do), then we want to share a few tips to help you leverage your reach and add value by using it as a platform to further your online reputation-building efforts. Expanding your presence and popularity on review sites is no longer a nice-to-have. A strong profile across all third-party review sites is a must-have to organically and affordably increase your marketing reach and overall revenue.
Let’s look at how the experts are leveraging email campaigns to boost their online reputation:
Invest in Technology or Implement Processes to Personalize Your Pitch
Many studies point toward increased effectiveness in engagement and conversion when merchants utilize a highly customized email (average lift in engagement hovers around 20 percent) that takes into account the way a customer has interacted with a brand.
Why not consider sending a follow-up email for your guests, visitors, patrons, or shoppers that highlights the most popular services or products during the season they engaged with your brand? You can include snippets of reviews for said products or services to further your brand, or you can talk directly to the customer about his or her own experience, and ask for internal feedback through a brand survey while encouraging external engagement through review sites.
If your business is not large enough to justify the investment in personalization technologies, then consider selecting your top customers from your CMS and manually crafting a follow-up email. This can be done internally by using your own email-marketing platform or through tools like Review Express by TripAdvisor. When crafting a manual solicitation, you can work on including experiential prompts to ensure you secure a text-rich review.
Include Excerpts of Great Customer Reviews to Boost Confidence
Let existing reviews help you sell the best that your organization has to offer. When designing email marketing campaigns, spend time mining your reviews, and pick the best of the best.
By including snippets and quotes, you can provide prior customers and potential future customers with peer insights that add dimension to your product and service, and boost confidence and brand credibility. Including user-generated content adds dimension to your email-marketing efforts and provides readers with fresh insights that better reflect what your business truly delivers.
Alternatively you can incorporate customer opinion in copy by using descriptive language such as “Yelpers love our secret recipe for spicy fried chicken wings… and so will you.”
Encourage Customers to Review You When Allowed by the Third-Party Review Site
When third-party review sites allow it, go to the heart of the matter. Don’t be shy when it comes to securing increased customer engagement on the review sites that matter the most to your business. Popular review sites like TripAdvisor and Cars.com encourage businesses to engage with their customers through direct review solicitation.
Do not miss out on this game-changing opportunity. Make sure every customer receives a prompt to engage with your profile on popular review sites that allow it. Be cordial, personalized, intentional, and timely in encouraging review engagement; and make sure you take the time to tackle any possible customer-service concerns prior to sending a request.
The bulk of negative reviews for businesses are in direct relation with escalations gone wrong. A well-managed escalation can result in a great review even when the actual product delivery was less than perfect on the first try.
Include Contextual Links to Popular Review Sites
Even when review sites like Yelp frown upon review solicitation, you can still comprehensively incorporate them as part of your email marketing pitches. This is especially true if you already have well-ranked and popular profiles. Look into including links that point to your profile, either through contextual text or by using a brand-authorized badge (Yelp has a variety of marketing tools you can incorporate to your online marketing strategy).
Contextual links to popular review sites can be extremely helpful in giving customers a full picture of what you have to offer, boosting your credibility and giving them a platform to voice their own points of view. Identify which review sites matter the most for your business, and look at ways to integrate them to your email-marketing strategy.
Additionally, you may want to include a footer or signature to all your email communications that strategically includes buttons or links to third-party review sites where your business is highly ranked. This type of call-outs can significantly increase both review acquisition for your business and conversion by exposing the reader to highlights that make your business special and unique.
Commit to finding new avenues to elicit online engagement and keep your current customers excited about your brand. When customers feel vested and part of the overall brand community, you will see how they will take it upon themselves to advocate on your behalf through reviews, word of mouth, and increased online social engagement. Invest not only in securing new reviews but also in effectively managing the reviews you receive by tracking them, engaging with your customers, and using the insights to make your business better. After all, that is what reputation and review management is all about.