The most effective way to manage your online reputation is to get more positive reviews
Online reviews frustrate a lot of business owners because there is a lack of balance. The problem is that most people simply don’t review businesses they deal with every day — that is until something goes wrong.
You might be a landscaper, chiropractor, or auto dealership that has a great real-world reputation, yet your online review profile is lopsided with negative comments. The happy middle of satisfied clients is under-represented.
The only way around this problem is to be proactive and ask happy customers to leave reviews. And we mean more than just casually mentioning it. You need a plan that everyone in your business understands.
Here are five tips on creating and implementing a plan that will help bring balance back to your online reviews so they reflect the quality of service you actually offer.
Tip #1: Deliver exceptional service
Before we even talk about getting more reviews, we have to mention what is being reviewed.
None of the tips listed here will work unless you deliver exceptional service your customers genuinely appreciate. It’s all but impossible to fake a positive review profile for a business with major customer service or product quality issues.
Today’s customer-centered business world is more transparent than ever. Every time you cut corners on quality, you jeopardize your online reputation. Every time you delight beyond expectations, you boost it.
When everything is said and done, the quality of your offering plays the biggest role in your reputation. Asking for a positive review is far easier when the customer feels you deserve one.
Tip #2: Ask customers for reviews
Sometimes, the most obvious solutions are the most overlooked. To get more positive online reviews, the place to start is directly asking for them.
First and foremost, this means asking in person. For example, say you run a local bike shop. One of your sales associates spends time with a customer, fitting them for the perfect bike. The customer is ecstatic to have an excellent new bike and even forms a kind of bond with the salesperson.
There is no better opportunity to ask for a review than at the end of this sale. The salesperson can even frame the request, noting how the review will help other customers find the right bike.
Train staff that works directly with customers to always ask for a review. Make it an organizational initiative. This is the best opportunity you’ll have to get an honest review motivated by nothing other than the merits of your work.
Important idea: Asking for reviews by email
If you don’t have much (or any) face time with customers, you’ll need to ask for reviews by email.
Be aware that you have to create a custom list of emails comprised only of happy customers. You can’t automate this off a list that might include customers that are upset.
The best practice is to have the email sent from an individual at your company, preferably a personal email from the person the client worked with. The content of the email can be a personal request.
You can then create links directly to your review pages, like this one for Google. Lead with a request to get a review on the platform you most want to target, but have links to other platforms as well (many people have one preferred platform for leaving reviews).
This email is a type of conversion. Test your text and design to see what elicits the most responses.
Important idea: Ask for reviews on Facebook
A fFcebook post to followers is a quick way to ask for reviews. Keep in simple and personal, with a link to the review platform so people can easily write the review.
Tip #3: Incentivizing reviews
One of the tactics everyone considers is offering rewards (discounts, freebies, or payment) for reviews. It’s certainly one way to incentivize people to act.
But you have to be careful when using rewards to incentivize reviews. Because ideally, you want to earn reviews without having to toss in incentives.
And not surprisingly, it’s against the policy of most review platforms to reward reviews. This leads to fake reviews and skewed business profiles that undermine the legitimacy of the content for users. Platforms like Yelp make an active effort to filter any reviews the business incentivized.
However, as we said, the problem here is that the people most motivated to write reviews of their own accord are those with a complaint. You just want to give your happy clients a little push in the right direction.
Start with steps one and two. If possible, it’s better not to resort to offering rewards for reviews because it’s simply not as genuine. Some customers may see it as tacky, hurting your reputation rather than helping it.
But if you’re struggling to get positive comments, you can run an incentive campaign. When asking for a review, note that you have a special offer for confirmed positive comments. In some cases, you can get the customer to write you a review on the spot and give them the reward right then.
Incentivizing is best used as a way to boost your review profile when you’re struggling to get enough positive reviews. Beyond that, let your work and straightforward requests serve as your main reputation management strategy.
Tip #4: Respond to reviews
You’ll encourage more reviews with a profile that shows you’re responsive — to both positive and negative comments.
Think of your review profile as another way to interact with clients. Instead of these being one-sided comments, they can become dialogues where you gain valuable feedback about your services.
You can do a great deal to curb the effect of negative reviews by responding like a professional. Be transparent about errors, and explain how you will remedy them so they don’t become chronic mistakes.
Also, thank people for positive comments and repeat — specifically — the benefit you delivered. This becomes a type of marketing content that can convey your value proposition. For example:
This marketing service has a dashboard that tracks the marketing activities and the results so you can actually hold the company accountable by results that are automatically tracked. Marketing efforts are tackled from every angle. Also my account manager Travis Mino is a great guy and gets things done for me when asked. We have achieved our traffic, conversion and sales goals for the last several months. I recommend this marketing services company to any company that is serious about improving its e-commerce business. – Wayne S.
Wayne, we’re ecstatic Marketing 360® is improving your e-commerce business. Tracking results so business owners understand their marketing is the primary goal of our marketing software. We love to hear clients are not only achieving goals, but that they know they’re achieving them. That’s not always easy with marketing. We look forward to helping you grow for years to come! – Travis M.
If you get a negative review, you can earn redemption by acknowledging the opinion of the reviewer and showing you value their input.
Important idea: Ignore rants
On occasion, you’ll get a negative review that’s simply an unfair rant. Some people take advantage of the removed anonymity of online reviews as an outlet for other issues.
Simply ignore these rants and move on. They’re not worth responding to, and other people will recognize them for what they are.
If you think a review is fake and/or posted by a competitor, you can flag it for removal. But don’t obsess over these. You’ll never please everyone, and some people choose never to be pleased. Life’s too short to get into it with these personalities.
In fact, some negative reviews are worth a laugh. There is an entire YouTube channel dedicated to professional actors adding drama to negative (and absurd) Yelp reviews:
Tip #5: Monitor your brand
Tracking all the customer-created content and getting a sense of your overall reputation online is becoming increasingly challenging. In some cases, there are dozens of review platforms a business needs to monitor, including social media, like Facebook.
Getting happy customers to review you online then tracking that content on a daily basis is important — but time-consuming.
Get one person at your business to be responsible for your reputation management efforts, or have your marketing company do it for you.
The one thing you can’t do is ignore online reviews. It’s said today that a brand is no longer what it says about itself, but what its customers tell each other about it. Online consumers are instinctively drawn to what people who’ve used a product or service have to say about it. They believe they’ll get a more objective view than what the business says about itself.
And they are — for the most part — correct. A positive, unsolicited review is the best measure of your fine work. But don’t just wait for your customers to do the right thing. Ask them for help, not just to help you but to help the next happy customer that will choose you because of that positive review.
This post originally appeared on Marketing 360®
Originally published 5/15/18