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While I’m not that old yet, except maybe in the eyes of my kids, I still remember the days of looking in phone books to find a business. I remember searching through the yellow pages section trying to sort through the seemingly endless amount of businesses all with the same layout and monochromatic fonts.
Fast forward to today where virtually every business is right there online with in your face, easy to find reviews. Facebook, Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Angies List, Zillow, Glassdoor, and virtually all social media and Web 2.0 out there, both generic and industry specific, have a review capability on them.
So, why does this matter? Why should you care that so many platforms have reviews?
Simple: reviews can directly effect your online local rankings as well as heavily influence people’s purchasing decision!
Here’s some quick stats:
84% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust a personal recommendation
90% of customers say that online reviews effect their buying decisions.
Okay, okay… so how to you get more online reviews then?
Will getting more online reviews to get you more business?
And… how to you deal with the bad ones?
Whether you are a brand new fledgling company with zero marketing history or a large corporation with an entire marketing department, working on your online review and reputation is a critical part of your businesses success.
Ready to get more online reviews?
In this article, I’ll walk you through our 4 Pillars of Online Reviews and how focusing on these will give you clarity and direction for what really matters to make an impactful difference in your business. Then, I’m going to show you how to implement these pillars with some easy tips to get you started! Lets get going!
The 4 Pillars of Online Reviews
Through years of marketing experience and some trial and error, we found 4 simple pillars linked to your online review success. These 4 pillars are what matter to Google… and, just as important, your customers! When you start building your campaign, focus on these as your baseline and you’ll do great!
Pillar 1 – Quality of Reviews
So, first one is pretty common sense: quality of reviews. 5 stars is always better than 4, 4 is better than 3. Easy peasy right? What’s important to note here is that the quality of (star rating) actually matters MORE than the order of the lists.
Yes, you heard that right! In traditional SERPs listings, the #1 rank is king.
But, in the Google 3 pack, the order doesn’t matter… the star rating does. Take a look at this:
I did a search for “beer bars near me” and this is what I got. Ignoring the fact that it’s the middle of the night and these places are closed, what would you pick? Most people would choose the bottom one because it has a higher star rating, even though it’s the last of the three!
So, pillar #1 is focus on quality ratings.
Pillar 2 – Quantity of Reviews
The next pillar is almost as important as the first, quantity. Think about this….
You are searching and you find two similar businesses. One with a 5 start rating but only 2 reviews. The other has a 4.8 star rating but has over 100 reviews. Which do you choose?
If you’re like most people, you will go with the one with more reviews, even though it’s slightly less star ratings.
Point is, both quality and quantity matter for your online reviews!
Pillar 3 – Diversity of Reviews
While the top two are pretty obvious, the next two are not for most people. So, pillar #3 is diversity!
But, what does that mean to have diversity of reviews? After all, every person that left you a review is different!
Diversity here means diversity of reviews across channels. Take a look at this:
This is one of the same businesses from above and I got this when I ran a search (on Google) of their business name. This is the interesting part… this is a Google search, but you can see at the bottom it is showing their Facebook reviews.
More specifically it says “reviews from the web”. This means that Google is now pulling in reviews from sources outside of Google and using that information to display and potentially effect rankings based on your reviews on other channels.
In other words, you can not simply focus on just Google reviews, or just Facebook reviews, etc. You must build reviews across multiple channels for the maximum effect!
Bonus, not only will this help your Google rankings in the 3-pack, but it also can get you found directly on those other reviews easier too!
Pillar 4 – Consistency
Last of the pillars, #4, is consistency.
Simply put: consistent online reviews are better and more believable than all in a short period of time.
Why? Because when you have a bunch in a short period how did you get those? You probably asked, maybe even bribed some friends to leave you reviews.
Bottom line, if it’s not consistent, then it’s not as trustworthy!
Okay… so you now know the 4 Pillars of Online Reviews… What’s next?
Tips on How to Get More Online Reviews
Now that you know what to focus on while building your online review marketing, lets talk about some specifics.
Quick pitch: for those that understand that building your online reputation is key, but don’t have the time, we actually have an online review & reputation service that’s super affordable and we just do all of this for you! Learn more about our online review service here.
Okay, back to our regularly schedule blog post… lets get into some tips!
Tip 1 – Claim/Create your listings
Most online profiles these days will create themselves, if you don’t do it first. Google, Yelp, and others will simply create a profile for your business so that people can leave reviews on your business.
So, if you have ABC Roofing Company and you’ve never signed up for a Google My Business account, but Google found your business information elsewhere, it’s very likely they will simply create a listing for you. The same happens with Yelp, Yellow Pages, and many others.
However, you don’t want to leave these be.
Ideally, you should create these profiles before they get auto created when you start your business, but if not, that’s okay.
So, you need to either claim your profiles on these sites or make one if one doesn’t exist yet.
Pro Tip: please search each network before creating one. You may go to Yelp thinking one doesn’t exist, but it could, then you create one and now there are two. This is confusing for the customer and is much harder to solve later.
Pro Tip #2: Regardless of your business type, you should probably always create a Google, Facebook, and Yelp account. Then, you should also consider creating many more like Angies List, City Search, Tupalo, Glass Door, and many others. Lastly, if your business niche has industry review sites like Zillow or Zoc Doc, do those as well.
Tip 2 – Have good customer service
It’s surprising to have to say this, but I’ve seen just about everything in this line of business.
You can not, or rather should not, expect to have good online reviews if you have bad customer service skills. If you find yourself blaming customers for things, being short and rude, not greeting with a smile, and things of this nature, unfortunately these tips won’t help you.
Really important here… people are far more likely to leave a negative review over a positive one.
So, lets start with some basic customer service skills, then the rest gets much easier. Here’s a few quick ones:
- Smile more – there’s a really cool psychological trait called mirroring. Basically, we mimic what others do so if you smile, your customer is more likely to be happy.
- Listen to understand, not to respond – Selfishly, most people listen with the intent to formulate their responses and not to actually understand. Stop and truly listen to your customer, hear them out fully and openly BEFORE formulating your response.
- Be Empathetic – One of my favorite quote is this: “people don’t care what you know until they know that you care”. While no one knows who said that first, it’s a timeless truism that you need to know and use. Show empathy and truly to understand and help your customers.
These are just a couple tips that I focus on. For more in depth customer service, check out this article on psychology of customer service.
Tip 3 – Ask for reviews after purchase
There’s an old cliche I first heard from one of my high school science teachers… “if you never ask, then answer is always no”. He’s was an older guy with loads of silly cliches, but for some reason, this one stuck!
The reality is that most people will not seek out to leave a good online review, but they will if they have a negative experience. This means that you could have a few negative reviews and a poor online review profile but loads of happy customers.
Provided you are actually a good company and providing good customer service like I mentioned above, then you just need a system to ask for review!
The most common way it to email or text after a payment and provide them an easy way to leave a review. You can also use stickers, counter displays, QR codes, and more. Point is, find an efficient and preferably automated way to continuously ask for online reviews from all of your customers.
Tip 4 – Provide a link to leave online review
People are lazy, myself included. You have to make leaving a review dead simple.
If you say, hey can you leave us a review online? Just go to Facebook, then search for [insert company name], then ignore the one that looks similar, then once you’re there click the review tab, then you can leave a review.
You want to know who leaves reviews like that? Aside from maybe your parents, spouse, and a couple close friends… just about no one!
If you want more online review, you have to make the process super simple!
If you’re asking for Facebook reviews, go to your FB page, navigate to the review tab yourself, then share that link in an easy way.
If you have a review system like ours, this part handled. If not, you can use URL shorteners and the like or save preset messages in your emails to do this.
Tip 5 – Ask, But Don’t Incentivize
Okay, so asking for reviews is almost always okay, but you do need to be aware of the rules in place for the sites you use and some generally non-kosher things to do.
First, never incentivize any request to leave a review. Not only is it a conflict of interest and disingenuous, but it can also get you banned from many sites.
Things like, leave an online review and get a $5 gift card… yeah, that’s incentivizing and you shouldn’t do it!
If you get discovered that you are incentivizing reviews, there’s a good chance that you’ll loose your SEO rankings from it, you will likely get banned from the offending review site, and generally other bad things can happen!
Tip 6 – Dealing with negative reviews
We already know you’re a great business and offer fantastic customer support right? But, no matter what you do, you will never please everyone 100% of the time.
It’s inevitable that you will have at least some less than perfect reviews. Having these aren’t always bad, but it’s how you deal with them that make the difference. Here’s a few quick tips!
- Don’t blame the customer – Rule #1… do not blame the customer. Ever!
- Listen, truly listen – Give them an opportunity to speak their mind and truly listen; do not interrupt! If you need to speak, it should only be questions to help you understand their position. People want to be understood and feel like you care and listening is the quickest way to help this.
- Take responsibility – Don’t blame external things, your employees, the weather, your situation, etc. You need to own it before you can move past this. A simple statement like, “I can understand where you’re coming from here and I think we definitely could have done a lot better”.
- Apologize sincerely – a sincere apology goes a long way and can make significant improvements to the situation. You should apologize even if you didn’t cause the situation. Say things like, “I am so sorry that you’ve had such a bad experience with us. Let me see what I can do to make this better”.
- Respond not defend – you do need to respond to negative online reviews, but do not defend. See above! Your responses are public and you should always be composed and never rash.
- Ask them how to solve – The goal here is to help make this situation better for them, so why not just ask? After listening, of course, you can apologize them simply ask, “what can I do to make this better for you?” Then, do you very best!
- Use the feedback to help you improve – Lastly, we want to learn from our mistakes. We should never be in a position of repeating the same failures over and over again. Pay attention to your feedback and use that to help you guide and improve your systems to make your business better!
Tip 7 – Do Online Review Checkup
One of the most powerful things you can do help you get more online reviews and build up that reputation, is to do a check to see where you are.
We have a free online review checkup app that allows you to do just that. Just click on the link and enter your business name, zip code, and phone, then hit scan.
Next, it’ll pop up your business listings and you’ll need to confirm the are right. Then, you’ll get a simple and easy to understand review report that will show you a review grade for your businesses and what you can do to help improve your online reputation.
By now, you should know that online reviews are huge in how your business is ranked and how decisions are made based on your reviews.
Follow this article’s steps to help you build more online reviews as well as focus on the 4 pillars mentioned above. Implement these pillars and follow the tips here and you’ll start seeing positive results very soon!
The great thing about online reviews is how fast they work and how cost effective of a marketing strategy they really are.
We also have a fully managed review & reputation service if you want the results without the headache of having to implement these things yourself.
Do you have any other tips, tricks, or thoughts on online reviews? Let me know in the comments below!