Local Business Owners: 5 Tips to Take Your Online Reputation to the Next Level

March 25, 2015

45 percent of customers say they’re more likely to visit businesses that respond to their reviews

Online Reviews Survey

Reputation Management

Oftentimes, the never-ending stream of tips, ideas, and game-changing marketing tools that promise to make our business model better, more efficient, and more profitable overwhelms us.

Today, we want to slew from big-picture thinking and spend a little time talking to local business owners who have sole responsibility of every aspect of their business operations. Multi-role leadership demands creativity and laser focus to be able to successfully juggle every facet without dropping the ball, and to maintain constant forward motion. Because we here at ReviewTrackers are privileged to serve thousands of business owners by providing scalable reputation management tools, we know that small wins can make for big changes when aggregated over a period of time.

We looked into a large sample of highly successful local businesses that have demonstrated resiliency and growth in popularity and revenue, and identified small operational changes that deliver significant impact on how customers perceive the quality of their goods and services. Join us as we discuss five key business process improvements that could potentially give your online and offline reputation a significant boost.

Tip No. 1: Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk!

One of the most common and damaging errors made by new local business owners is feeling defeated by a singular instance of negativity. Negative reviews will happen, and you must learn to embrace them as an asset that provides the feedback necessary to do things better in the future.

Dwelling on a negative review, instead of managing the feedback, results in a discouraged and poorly focused leader, and triggers similar behaviors among the workforce. If and when you receive a negative review, it is essential that you are agile, responsive, customer-focused and, most importantly, ready to move forward with a new and improved approach to business. Do not dwell in the past. Successful businesses are constantly in the here and now, looking for ways to deliver outstanding services and create “wow” experiences by starting afresh every single day.

Crying over spilled milk does not fix anything. Saturate the work environment with radical positivism, always pointing your team and your operations toward the next five-star review. Embrace every single customer as one who has the potential to make or break your brand, and through your actions convert him or her into an advocate and loyal customer.

Tip No. 2: Celebrate Short-Term Victories with Your Team and Customers

The most successful businesses are those where the leaders have adopted an esprit de corps culture. One of the main reasons many businesses are eager to implement review management and monitoring software is to maintain a real-time feedback loop that allows the business to capture glimpses of how customers perceive them, and be able to establish business policies that immediately reward and recognize positive behaviors.

Be on the lookout for victories, and take the time to celebrate them. To further leverage a victory, engage your customers in celebrating your small victories. We know of a small but popular bar in DC that makes it a point to display five-star reviews on their screens during happy hour and pass out complimentary, celebratory appetizers to their most loyal customers.

By engaging customers as well as staff in celebrating positive feedback, leaders are changing the mood of their operation and encouraging additional reviews from customers who get to partake in their celebration. Positive vibes are contagious. Make it a central part of your marketing strategy offline and online.

Local Business Owners: 5 Tips to Take Your Online Reputation to the Next Level

Tip No. 3: Embrace Review Sites That Allow You to Request Reviews 

If you are a small local business, it’s not always within your power to increase review volume or generate new reviews enough to be in par with huge and more experienced organizations. You are limited in terms of traffic and overall capacity, and that is okay. After all, we have found that steady always wins the race.

If we may digress for a moment, it is worthy to note that TripAdvisor ranking by popularity is not necessarily driven exclusively by review volume. Furthermore, when Yelp selects their yearly faves for restaurants, they utilize an algorithm that considers volume as just one of the many factors that push businesses to the very top.

But getting back to the main topic, one of the easiest and most effective ways to get additional reviews is to include in your review portfolio third-party review sites that allow and encourage review request, sometimes even giving you the tools to make it happen. For medical practices, you can look into Healthgrades’ complimentary postcards. For those of you in the hospitality and restaurant industries, begin by incorporating Review Express by TripAdvisor to your monthly or weekly marketing outreach. You can also sign up for ReviewTrackers’ award-winning review management platform, which includes a feedback and review request tool to help you generate more reviews. 

Tip No. 4: Take Advantage of Free Widgets

One of the simplest and most practical ways to increase recall in association with third-party review sites is to incorporate said sites to your own site and social media profiles. Many popular review platforms, among them TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google My Business, provide businesses no-cost resources to create seamless integrations that point consumers from your site or Facebook page to your review profiles. You can also use third-party review widgets to display reviews from all your review sites in one place.

This type of interaction is incredibly helpful in increasing recall and conveying trust through community-based engagement. Businesses that integrate their review profiles to their main sites and social environments always see an increase in review volume as well as improved conversion, provided they have a superior online reputation.

Tip No. 5: Leverage Great Reviews by Bragging

You’ve earned it! Brag about it! If you have great reviews, then you can gain significant leverage by using the content or accolades present in your reviews as a means of reinforcing your marketing message. Include awards such as the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in your online and offline marketing collateral, and quote from your best reviews when creating marketing pieces such as flyers and menus. The use of testimonials to reinforce a marketing message has a long track record of success. A little effort can go a long way. If you are due for a revision or reprint of your offline collateral, then make it a point to include review-based snippets highlighting what customers are saying about you!

These five moves are simple, free to implement, and can be done with minimal effort. Paired with a hands-on review management strategy, you will likely see tremendous results in engagement and give your online business reputation a significant boost.

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