Why are online reviews so important for your business?
You know how great your business is. You know that you offer the best product / service on the market. But potential customers don’t. To them you’re one of many businesses competing for their attention online, so you need to give them a reason to turn to you rather than your competitors.
And besides, your competition are already collecting their reviews whilst you’re reading this article. Let’s dig in to the numbers.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses up and down the country have started to realise that the future of marketing is digital. According to IAB UK’s Digital Adpend report, 2021 (£23.5bn) saw a 41% rise on digital ad spend compared to 2020 (£16.5bn).
That’s a big jump, and it means that you’ve now potentially got nearly 50% more competition online. If that doesn’t get you running to your review platform of choice, then this should – 89% of British SME owners say they actively use reviews as part of their marketing strategy when surveyed by Capterra.
So with all this information you may be asking yourself – Where do I start?
Below we’ve put together a short guide on reviews, including where to collect them, some do’s and don’ts and how to deal with negative reviews (for if the dreaded day ever comes!).
The different reviewing platforms
There are a tonne of reviewing platforms that offer similar services with different packages, and ultimately we can’t tell you the best one – That all depends on what’s right for your business. For example, with the premium packages TrustPilot allows you to add eye-catching widgets on to your site that hook user’s attention and feature your reviews prominently in the style that you want. The downside to TrustPilot is that it can get expensive for a small business, especially one that isn’t collecting masses of reviews.
That’s where a free reviewing platform shines. They offer limited add-ons but allow you to collect reviews without spending a penny. The biggest one by far is Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) – Which by the way every business should have a profile on. If you don’t then click here and we’ll help sort you out – Google Business Profile is the reviewing platform of choice for many SMEs, including Talk To Media, and Google is actually the most visited platform for reviews with 63.6% of consumers using it to read reviews.
Some of the other options available are below, it’s always best for you to do your own research and determine which platform is right for you.
So okay, you’ve chosen the right reviewing platform for you… Let’s take a look at the do’s and don’ts.
DO – Create a consistent plan to gain more reviews
Generating a return off of online reviews is all about consistency. Create an actionable plan that you’re going to stick to. Maybe you’re an e-commerce business and want to send a follow up email to customers who’ve bought your product after a week or so (don’t send it straight away, they need time to use the product and be happy with it first!). Maybe you’re a service business, in that case ask for a review straight after the job is completed!
You want to hit the customer with the request when they’re at their happiest. That’s when they’ll be most receptible. Figure out when that is for your business and go from there.
DON’T – Be tempted by fake reviews
Fake reviews are a growing problem online and can be really disheartening for business owners to see when they’ve spent so much energy collating their reviews the right way.
Ultimately if your competitors are buying fake reviews, this isn’t a strategy that’s going to stand the test of time. Google, Amazon, Yell etc… all have very sophisticated systems that can sniff out these fake reviews and remove them. In some cases, for repeat offenders, they may have action taken against them or be kicked off the reviewing site all together.
Keep collecting your reviews from real customers and don’t be tempted to fake your way through. It will never end well.
The best thing you can do if you see fake reviews is to report them as spam / malicious to the reviewing platform, below are a couple of tips on how to spot the frustrating fakers.
- Read the reviews. It may sound simple but does the review actually reference the product / service the business is providing?
- Check the dates. A huge influx of 5-star reviews in a short space of time can be suspicious, especially if they didn’t get many before.
- Look for verified purchases. Some sites like Amazon actually flag reviews that are verified purchases. Trust these, disregard the rest.
- Where else have they reviewed. Sometimes you can see where the reviewer has left ratings. Have they left ratings in the same area? A good example of this recently was when we at Talk To Media noticed a business buying fake reviews, we realised this because the reviewers were also leaving the same 5-star reviews on different locations.
Google are now cracking down on fake reviews. They’ve taken legal action against a company that generated over 14,000 fake reviews!
DO – Reply to reviews
Interact with your customers! You’ve spent so much time and energy collecting these reviews that it’s criminal to not reply to them. Not only does it show that your business is active and cares about its reputation, but it also cements the relationship that you have with the customer who left the review.
Everyone loves to feel special. Make your customer feel special in your reply!
DON’T – Get frustrated if you’re not getting results
Look, all this sounds easy on paper, but ultimately getting real reviews from real customers can be a hard slog. You may go through periods of time where it feels that no customers want to review your business, which can be disheartening.
The only advice we have here is just to keep going. Keep sending those review requests out, keep following them up and I promise the reviews will come!
What to do if you get a negative review
We’ve saved the worst until last. We hope the day never comes for your business, or for any business for that matter, but here’s the four steps that your business should follow if you do receive a negative review.
- Don’t panic. As bad as it may seem at the time, a negative review (even a 1-star) is not the end of the world! Consumers know that things aren’t perfect every time and as long as your star rating is still a respectable number then the one negative review won’t turn people away from your business.
- Assess the situation. Read the review thoroughly and if possible, get a non-biased third party to read it. Does the reviewer have a genuine complaint or are they moaning for moaning’s sake? This step is vital as it decides what route you take next.
- Respond to the review. NEVER leave a negative review without a response, especially if you respond to positive reviews. It makes it look like your business doesn’t care. If the reviewer does have a genuine reason to be upset, then post a reply apologising for their experience and offer a contact method for them to get in touch so that you can resolve the issue (and hopefully get the review removed). On the flip side, if the reviewer is being harsh, lying in their review or just having a bad day, then call them out on it. Remember these reviewing platforms are a two way street and are meant to give an honest reflection of your business. If you truly feel that the review is unwarranted, then there’s no reason why you can’t politely state this and again leave a contact method at the bottom stating that you’d love to resolve this if they get in touch.
- Get more positive reviews. Ultimately the best way to fight negative reviews is with more positive reviews. Push that overall star rating up, collect those lovely comments from customers and show potential customers how great your business is!
We hope this article has been helpful and motivates you to either start a reviewing strategy online or pick up on one that you may have gotten sidetracked with.
If you need any further information on online reviews or would like to sit down for a marketing strategy chat to see how we can help your business compete with the £23.5bn worth of digital ad spend, then drop me an email at email@example.com or call our friendly team on 01302 613000.
About The Author
He holds a certification from and is a member of the Chartered Institute Of Marketing and has presented talks on the importance of using Google Business Profile to boost your local business ranking.
Connect with Matt on LinkedIn today.