Online reviews - a powerful form of marketing.
For years people have been using word of mouth to recommend good businesses or complain about poor products and services. Whereas once this feedback was confined to just family and friends, today - thanks to the power of digital - these thoughts and recommendations can reach a much wider audience. The good, the bad and the ugly, it all gets shared online. In fact, customers are more likely to talk about a negative experience than a positive one, putting your online reputation at stake.
Your brand is defined by those who experience it, and with such a small window of opportunity between someone reading your review and making a purchasing decision, each positive review that you receive can make all the difference.
And it’s not just consumers who love online reviews, search engines love them too.
Let’s take a closer look at why online reviews matter:
It’s all about trust
Online reviews are considered to be a trustworthy source of information, with over 88% of consumers using them just like personal recommendations. Therefore, if your reviews are favourable, customers will see you as credible and are more likely to purchase your products or services. If you don’t include online reviews, you may be missing out on the chance to let others sing your company praises.
It is important that you leverage the positive reviews you receive across all marketing channels, to further influence potential purchasing decisions. But remember, don’t just focus on the good and ignore the bad. It is possible to turn a negative review into a positive one when you directly respond to a customer complaint or offer a gesture of good will.
But just how easy is it to obtain an online review?
Verifying your business
The first step to obtaining online reviews, should be to verify your business on Google. This is a simple process whereby you provide information to Google so that your business is eligible to appear on maps, within search terms and via other Google services. To register for a free Google My Business account all you need to do is apply and authenticate your business location.
Google have incorporated their own in-house review system, so that your customers can leave a comment about you within the business and map listings. As you have access to this information yourself, you can engage directly with your Google reviewers.
A quick Google search for a local business will result in a list of businesses that match your required description, often alongside their website are the customer reviews. These will be shown as gold stars within the Google map pack and results listing. These reviews are essential for building trust for an unfamiliar business and have been proven to provide a great boost to click through rates from search. If you want to have stars after your name and be the envy of your competitors, it is vital that you get your customers advocating you online.
Once you have been successful in getting online customer reviews we can use them to create something called 'rich snippets'. This is a type of HTML code that we can develop on your website which search engines use to display more information about your products or services. This can include specific information such as star rating, product and comment. An example can be seen below as we have developed on our own website:
Your public has spoken
If you really want to push your online reputation, then don’t be shy in asking your happy customers for feedback. You can do this at various points throughout their customer journey, and our top tip would be to make it as simple a process as possible. This can be done through using direct links to review forms, follow up emails or by housing a specific page within your website. Most satisfied customers will be only too happy to help and will often wax lyrical without too much prompting.
Please ensure that you only ever use genuine reviews and are never tempted to purchase misleading ones. It’s dishonest and there is every chance that you could be found out. Once you lose customer trust, it’s almost impossible to get it back.
Don’t just let potential customers take your word for it, add a testimonial or two to your homepage and let others sing your praises. Over 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, so by showcasing your client reviews you are not only boosting your credibility but having a direct influence on how people view your business.
Working Feedback - Online Reviews
There are many industry-specific companies who are dedicated to obtaining online reviews on your behalf, such as Working Feedback. They can save you precious time and resources by converting your customers word of mouth into tangible online feedback for your business.