In today’s speedy-digital world online presence is the key to a business’s success within a short period of time. From the very beginning all kinds of business had to manage their reputation. But the medium, the speed and the number of people that are reached by that information has been changed gradually. In previous times the advertisement and customers had via word of mouth was the only medium of business’s reputation with very limited reach. Now, the customers provide real-time feedback through online reviews, social media, forums and other channels to define any business. Having positive online reviews on those platforms can play a defining role in the success of your business. The consumers trust the reviews just as much as they trust personal recommendations as they came from the real buyers with real experiences.
It’s really very hard and time consuming job to manage a successful online reputation. Using products, services or people to cut down on time expenditure but the most worthwhile investments you can make by maintaining online presence with great reputation. Getting, monitoring, responding to and amplifying online reviews should be the most vital aspects. To drive potential customers to your business Online reviews can be the most effective way. Trying to shoot your business to the top of the Google search engine results page (SERP) may be possible with thousands of dollars but it’s very expensive and risky too. Only the online business review can establish your businesses authenticity and brand trust that SERPs cannot do except wasting a huge amount of money. You can find a full guideline about online reviews here below.
What is Online Reviews
Online review is a kind of feedback by a customer or user gives after using any product or service. These online reviews are super duper important not only for any business owners but also for customers. Online reviews are a kind of common platform where the customer and business owner can share their point of view about a particular product of service. If any consumer was not pleased with the service they can share his bad feelings through any social platform and on contrary they can give positive feedback also. In the same way the business owner can respond to that feedback and show gratitude for good products and apology for bad ones. Customer experience is the new way of marketing mainly got biggest hit in 2015 and counting. Having reviews for products maybe not new but is a return to grassroots in the form of digital media. Responding to customers could not be more prevalent in this online business world. Audiences are now segmented across multiple platforms and companies that are authentic in their communications and great product and service will definitely win. Having a wide range of online reviews in Google, Facebook, Trustpilot or Yelp may turn the business growth overnight for any online business.
The Impact of The Online Reviews
Compared to traditional media networks about business communication have dramatically changed the way through social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google and Trustpilot. What a business says about itself is not any more important than what customers say about a business. Only the customers have the right to determine the reputation of a business. Review sites are a two-way conversation having an equal voice in a shared space. Today, the reviews sites have created a world of opportunities where consumers can converse with brands and vice versa. Responding effectively to negative reviews and amplifying positive feedback is essential for success though some people think this as a scary chore or a daunting task. As thousands of people witnessing the neglect in social sites so not responding to customers on review sites can be worse for any online business.
We can take Trustpilot for instance as it is a global online review community that helps to build trust and transparency between consumers and businesses. The impacts can be seen on the given image that Trustpilot has set new global standards in the value of trust by empowering businesses to directly engage with their customers through a reliable platform. The impact is so huge with 200,000 businesses registered on Trustpilot with 40 million reviews, and 72 million visitors a year. So, just imagine having a reputation in such platforms will affect your business in great manner and can help customer satisfaction, and further innovation.
Necessity and Importance of Online Reviews for Business
In recent survey run by Oxford School of Business a shocking truth revealed that about 97% percent of consumers find local business info on the web pages. At the same time around 90% make decisions to buy or not based on what online reviews given by other customers. The result was published after every business was constantly being put to the test of online reviews.
Famous review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor combined produce more than 270 million reviews every year. And on close observation there’s a good chance your local business clients are the subject of much online chatter like on Facebook and Twitter. So the necessity of online reviews knows no bound for any online business that serves product and services.
Just imagine you are going to try a new restaurant for supper, so how do you pick a spot? Or as if your car breaks down, how do you find a mechanic? Of course you will turn on your mobile or computer to search the nearby restaurants or mechanic. But wait! How will you choose while you have plethora of options? Here comes the importance of reviews. Nearly 9 in 10 consumers will go through the online reviews about those restaurants then decide whether to go or not. Even though you can find “Alex motors” is way cheaper than “Bikers king” you will go to repair your car in Bikers King only because they have average 4.7 Star ratings but Alex Motors has 3.8 Stars. So, having a number of positive reviews determines the quality of a local business and also responsible for the better customer flow.
The Value Of Online Customer Reviews
Due to technological advancement social recommendations and review sites are more trustworthy than traditional advertising systems. These reviews are considered as the mirror of the actual customer experience so they are more genuine and authentic in the eyes of customers. So having and maintaining a reputation in online review sites is getting increasingly more important. Having a recognizable reputation and being present always go hand in hand. Having negative reviews is as bad as not being listed on any review site. User generated content like reviews can drive tangible results for any online business. Building the genuine customer experience by any means should be the first priority by a business owner to maximize visibility and reputation simultaneously.
According to Samsung the numbers of customers have looked for local information online before purchasing Smartphone and it’s nearly 95%. Google has reported that the amount of those searches lead to action is 9 out of 10 and 57% lead to sales accordingly. Some customers decide to purchase before even entering the store because of online search. If your business has a good web presence then their competitor customers will come to you eventually. This process goes through a series of processes like local listings, reputation management and social products for word of mouth. More than 79% Smartphone users use their Phone to look at reviews, compare prices and other metrics and surprisingly 72% end up making a purchase. The trend significantly changed the buying habits over years.
The statistics make only one statement: gain online reputation, get people in the door and make sales.
How Effective Online Customer Reviews Are?
The effectiveness of online customer reviews are something that cannot be described in words but can be seen on your business. To gain trust to consumers and search engines it’s very important to maintain a consistent online presence and a positive reputation. Some of the most important aspects of the online footprint include:
• Maximum number of listings on local sites
• Maintain consistency of listing information (name, address, phone)
• Overall sentiment in reviews (Positive and Negative)
• Velocity of new reviews (Frequency of current ones)
• Overall volume of reviews (especially positive ones)
• Social activity and engagement (Feedback to reviewers)
According to a renowned website around 69.5% of consumers would take the time to write a review or give feedback if asked by business owners and prefer to leave it via: Comment Card, Text Message, Restaurants website or App or on any Review Site.
This graph illustrates the number of people of different age groups who respond to online reviews through various tools. In case of comment card 24.4% people deliver their feedback and the highest number of them belongs to the 55-64 years age group. On the other hand only handfuls of young lads from 18-24 years old are interested on this one. The next line indicates the text message response and here the maximum numbers of customers are from 25-34 years age group but in contrary the lowest responses came from 55-64 age groups. The following line is for the 20% customers who use Restaurants websites and Apps for feedback. Here on an average about half of the customers are from 35-44 and 45-54 years age group and the rest are combined another half. The second last is for the users who use review sites like Yelp, Google or Trustpilot and the amount is almost 19.8/%. In these platforms the maximum numbers of feedback givers are from 25-34 years age and the least is from 65+ year’s age group. The final line shows how many people are not interested in giving any feedback or they don’t have time for this. And this amount is likely 30.5% all together.
Various Types of Online Reviews:
There are various types of online reviews that can serve as blessings or maybe curse for your online business. Though these reviews vary from platform to platform but the purpose of those are all the same. They are given as a feedback to share the experience one person has after buying a product of service. Due to different platforms and their review system the reviews got different shapes or formats. Here we will discuss the most primary classifications of online reviews.
Positive and Negative Reviews: The most common and effective review system is positive and negative reviews. One customer can choose a review platform like TripAdvisor, Yelp or TrustPilot and then he can express his feelings. If the words written by the customer brings some positive vibes or if he is happy with the product and service ten it’s called the positive review. On the other hand if they are unsatisfied with the product and use some bad slang to express feelings then obviously it’s a negative review. Positive reviews can be very helpful for the growth of business but at the same time negative reviews can be devastating.
First-Party Reviews: Most online business have their own place in the website or app to receive feedback from the customers. Any customer can visit their website and left a feedback. This actually called the first party review as businesses are receiving words directly from their customers. This is the most effective system of reviews because here all the reviews are genuine. Business owners must take these ones seriously and respond according to the situation.
Third-Party Reviews: Third party reviews are those came from a different website not directly on the business website. There are many platforms which allow customers to share their experience about a product or service from any company or website. Google, Glassdoor, Amazon, TrustPilot are some of the third party websites they allow customers to write feedback and give stars to any product from any company. This is most popular among the customers as they feel safe and no pressure.
One Star-Two Star and 3 – 5 Star Reviews: Giving stars to any product or service is very popular to the customers. This features firstly introduced by Google as they used it to get feedback from their customers about their own services. But, nowadays almost every site has these features because it takes less time and easy to use. If your business has most one or two star reviews then its likely indicates that customers are not satisfied with your service. But, if you get more than 3 stars and if the amount is huge then you have a pleasant service. Having a maximum number of stars means the greater chance to get a maximum number of customers.
How Reviews Affect SEO Credibility and Trust
Those golden days are gone when all business used to throw their Keyword all over their website to score high in local search rank. But the scenario has been changed. More than thousands factors that affect search engine ranking (SERP factors) including the online business reviews. Some of those are:
• Third party diversity where reviews are present
• Having the authority of third party sites
• Control over the pages where reviews are present
• Quantity of Reviews by Authority Reviewers (Yelp Elite, Google Local Guides, etc)
• Positive Sentiment in Reviews by consumers
• Altogether velocity of reviews including native and third party reviewer
• Quality and quantity of Third-Party Traditional Reviews
• Product/Service Keywords in Reviews and search engines credibility
Among the factor within Google’s local algorithm Click-through-rates (CTR) are the most effective ones. With increases in yellow stars online companies tend to receive more engagement from customers. Your business will be displayed near the top of the search engine results if you have a higher quantity of online reviews and higher CTR translations. The amount of positive reviews and a high CTR for your site indicates that you offer the best user experience and serves the correct type of content and this is what Google believes. For instance 71% of searches on Yelp came from mobile devices that means while they’re checking reviews they are ready to buy.
Credibility and Trust: Related to SEO there is another aspect what I call click-ability responsible to build credibility. These things are more likely talking, laughing and conversing with others as simple as that. Only those are more likely clicked by the customers with a great volume of reviews. Consumers think there must be some good sides as many people use this product or service.
So if you visit someone in Las Vegas near the sea and they want to head out for Seafood dinner what will you do? Of course you will do a quick Google search: “Seafood Restaurants in Las Vegas”. The star ratings will pop up immediately on the top level search and which you will choose, definitely, the one with the highest ratings. So, thus Reviews and ratings contribute on Trust and credibility.
Why Do You Need 4-5 Star/Positive Online Reviews?
Obviously everyone here comes to shine, make profit, earn respect and everything in this can be possible when your products will create a crazy impact on customers to buy them. This will become possible when your current registered products have a good number of 5 star ratings or Positive reviews than your other competitors. You need 5 star ratings and positive reviews because your product will become out of the box, more attractive and more search engine friendly. To rule this online business listing your products or services on different selling sites is not enough but to ensure your product is getting good ratings and reviews. As Online review platforms have become the unbeaten authority so obviously consumers are depending on those before making any purchase. In this case, those who have positive 5 star rating and reviews are tend to get more visitors and opportunity to get more order.
- You need Good ratings and positive reviews to take your business in the line of success not to dive in loss.
- Many face problems after listing their product on selling websites like Amazon or Yelp but not getting enough sells but a good number of reviews can solve this problem.
- Good reviews will increase your SEO ratings and check-ability. About 90% of the purchases on online products come from search results.
- The ratio of buying products from first page result is 8 out of 10 and it can happen only if you have Good ratings and reviews.
- To compete with other sellers you should care about 5 star ratings and reviews you’re your customers. The ratings can also help you to give a kick start of your product.
- Online review sites track of which products people end up buying after searching for a given keyword. They help them decide which product is most relevant to the original search and display the item first.
- Your products will reach maximum no of customers through positive online customer reviews.
How to Respond to Negative Online Reviews
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” ― Albert Einstein
So it’s very obvious that you will make mistakes and for that you can receive the odd bad review. But, the bad ones can be good for your business if you respond appropriately and sprinkle a little marketing magic on it. It is said that about 1 out of 25 people only tend to give negative feedback though they have bad experience. So, it’s a little hard to handle but can be a gift. Negative reviews should be taken as a quick criticism from someone who has tried the business and gives you the opportunity to make your business better.
Here are a few things to remember when responding to negative online reviews:
- Take Time: whenever you get a negative review take a little bit time not a lot of time. While replying make sure you don’t react purely on emotion as people are able to rely on your response again. It’s really hard not to take a bad review as a personal attack as everyone tries their level best. It is very serious that you should write with sincerity and ensure you don’t let your emotions take charge. If your response sounding sarcastic or disingenuous it can make the situation worse.
- Be kind and Genuine: Be very careful when you respond to one person and your response should come across in a gentle way. Remember that the audience is potentially much larger and far-reaching. Other people while visiting your review site can see the response also possible that they could share the review and response with their own networks.
- Be Specific: If any particular thing is mentioned by a customer about the business, use that specifically in your reply. It will demonstrate that the complainant feels heard and understood and you are not a robot.
- Criticism Can be Helpful: Even, if you do not agree with a negative reviewer, thank him because he has taken the time to invest in the business in an attempt to make it better. Negative reviews are the best way to understand the customer experience. There may be some lacking about the business so it’s important to consider the content without going on any defensive. So take this criticism as positive things for your business.
- Take The Conversation Offline: Do not go on any argument with an unhappy customer in a physical store or online as there are other customers around. So as there are more watching eyes online try to offer the customer an offline discussion like offering phone number. By this, you can connect privately and ensure the reviewer to fix the situation for them far from the digital audience. You can offer an apology and a special discount for him as per the bad experience. You know who doesn’t love free stuff? Me you and everyone else.
- Never Ignore It: As a business personnel you must have many competitors but they can post negative reviews intentionally on your products. Never ignore any review because more relevant people will be reading the review and can bring change while deciding on a purchasing decision. Make sure local businesses are part of the online conversation every single day.
How to Respond to Positive Online Reviews
So you know how to respond to a bad review, but what about a good review? Be courteous, thank the reviewer and take time to develop a thoughtful response; many of the principles remain the same. On a recent survey with 10000 randomly selected automotive dealership reviews on Cars.com website they find out an interesting result. As per the result the dealers who responded to ALL reviews, not just the negative ones, received the highest ratings and were the most popular. But, there are some key differences. Frequently responding to online reviews no matter positive or negative are important elements of customer service. Good customer service is good business.
Here are a few things to remember when responding to positive online reviews:
- Share The Review: Having positive reviews is like having some direct blessings from your business God. Put those sweet little comments to work. These Positive reviews are the character certificate for the digital online world. You can though you have a Magic Bullet in your cupboard because it only makes your future customers the present one. So you should use good reviews for marketing. Customer experience is the best marketing and with the growing number of consumers your business will also grow.
- Determine What’s of Value: understanding the need of your consumers is the number one priority of your business because they are the business. If you think your Product A is the best one but every review talks about the Product B then you should push marketing a little with Product B. Or maybe it could be an indication that not enough people know about the Product A. So be careful what your customers like about your business and put your full attention on them. Try to give value to your customer’s expectations.
- Get personal: If a reviewer mentions something specific about the business then try to share a personal anecdote or offer a shared opinion without letting the comment get too long. If the reviewer loves the design in your site then thank them and tell them where the inspiration comes from. Doing this I mean acknowledging particular points from the review ensures the author that you read, understood and internalized their feedback.
- Reward Staff if They are mentioned: It is very essential to reward a staff member if his name comes to the reviews specifically. We all know that our data reinforces that notion and also how important customer service is. It’s clear that customer service is essential in setting a business apart from the bad things. So, it’s obvious that the person who does the extra care to make the company extra special to your customers should be rewarded. By making such things you will be getting more positive feedback than before.
- Ask for Reviews: It is a very good initiative if you get a number of good reviews. It can be more beneficial if you specially ask the reviewer or other customers to give their feedback in a polite way. If the customers like your approach then they may overlook your lacking. With each year passing the average number of reviews written about the typical business is increasing. Many companies even buy positive reviews just to make a reputation in the market. It can keep the ball rolling if a company got a good thing going like positive reviews.
Famous and Popular Online Reviews Platforms
As online review platform is the fastest and quickest changing platform it’s very hard to get exact result. But there are few names already popular and people value them as much as their own recommendations. These review sites mentioned below are relevant for almost every business in nearly every vertical. Companies are well aware about their listings and claim their customer chatter on all sites. We are giving some key sites according to research led by brightlocal, vendesta, and others famous statistics sites. Aside from these 10 key sites, each vertical needs to address industry specific reviews, like TripAdvisor, DealerRater and Cars.com etc.
- Google My Business: Google My Business system allows business data on Search, Maps and Google+ so that customers can easily find a location. It can be done from desktop, mobile or anything in between. Known as bolster SEO Google reviews show up in search. This is very essential to the credibility of all businesses. It has billions of users all over the world.
- Yelp: At the time founded in 2004 no one thought that a real state website will shine like it is now. Yelp has become synonymous because of different online reviews from millions of people. Yelp had a monthly average of 89 million unique visitors who visited Yelp via their mobile device in Q4 2017, which is a clear indication of purchase intent.
- Facebook: Facebook is mainly known for its social interaction with people all over the world. But nowadays consumers increasingly interact with brands through social channels, and there is no social platform more reverent than Facebook. It allows people to follow, like and share. And, finally the reviews on Facebook are seen by many potential customers.
- Trustpilot: Trustpilot gets more than 2 million reviews every month with its wide range of branches in New York, Melbourne, Vilnius, Berlin, London and Denver to serve its clients. Any businesses that are listed on Trustpilot can get reviews and feedback from customers and clients and appropriately the business owners can respond on the given Trustpilot reviews. A free company account includes a profile, review notifications, the ability to respond to reviews, and a widget to post verified reviews on your website; paid accounts offer in-depth analytics and integration with your business. The main reason of Trustpilot reviews is to help to choose the right business when seeking a product or services to make the right decisions for potential customers and clients. Trustpilot is a great option for B2B and B2C companies offering both products and services.
- Amazon: At first Amazon was a virtual library. But Amazon has become much more than book reviews. For companies who do any amount of e-commerce, Amazon is a key source of information. Amazon single handedly controls half of the world’s online business and its reviews.
- FourSquare: With 55 million monthly active users Foursquare is one of the best of its kind. Foursquare is still a powerful force to monitor customer loyalty and feedback through reviews or star ratings.
- Better Business Bureau: Company profiles on BBB contain a short company bio and a history of reviews. All the complaints made about a business, as well as an A – F rating system. It has a great impact on local consumers.
- TripAdvisor: This website allows any registered member to guide travelers to find the right accommodation and experiences through generating ratings and reviews not just passing information like other companies. To rule this tourism and hospitality business listing your hotel or restaurant business on TripAdvisor is not enough but to ensure your business is getting good ratings and reviews. As TripAdvisor has become the unbeaten authority so obviously travelers are depending on TripAdvisor and those who have good ratings and reviews are tend to get more visitors and opportunity to get reservation by them.
- Bing: Bing allows consumers to leave reviews on their site. Bing aggregates reviews from other sources also. So although it may be easily forgotten, Bing reviews are still relevant for the potential users or business owners.
- Aabaco: Formerly Yahoo! Now known as Abaco. It allows users to post reviews of businesses using the well-known five-star rating system. Although secondary to Google, Yahoo! still receives about 10% of search engine share, so definitely worthwhile.
- Glassdoor: Glassdoor though launched in 2007 but their review system started in 2008 by three former Expedia employees. Glassdoor offers millions of its users with latest Job Listings at the same time a growing database of company reviews are combined. The main purpose was to increasing workplace transparency while creating this website
- Zillow: Zillow is known as one of the leading real estate and rental markets established to serve the people of the United States of America in terms of finding or selling properties. Zillow allows dozen apps across all major platforms to suite all kinds of reviews.
- YellowPages: Yellow Page is an Australian business review website established with a view to help the consumers around the whole Australia. Each month more than 5 million Australian people make searches only on the Yellow Pages website. Yellow Pages review is a platform for consumers to share the experiences they’ve had with Australian local businesses no matter positive or negative. Only authentic and helpful reviews are accepted on Yellow Page.
- Angies List: Among many review platforms Angie’s list is one of the best known for its authentic and trustworthy reviews. It is an online business directory where businesses can set up a profile with various information included. The lists consist of their business name, contact information, and types of services offered. This platform is designed for customers who are looking for service providers in their area and shows reviews of the services they’ve received from registered businesses. In Angie’s list businesses can also advertise along with displaying business information. Angie’s List has its own call center to speak to consumers looking for service provider recommendations and they help them without charges.
- SiteJabber: Sitejabber is the leading destination for customer ratings and reviews of businesses and services on all fashion related things. Sitejabber was created in 2008 in the San Francisco Bay Area to help consumers get better information about companies before they make purchases. There is an option that consumers can also ask questions to the reviewer or to the service provider of any company. If any issues that might arise after a purchase consumers can leave their own feedback and get help resolving the aroused issue.
Where & How to Get the Right Reviews for Your Business
So as a business owner you may think where and how can you get more reviews for your business.
- Accurate listings: When customers search a business, it should be easy to find. Don’t give customers any obstacles to leaving a review— search, find, and write. Make sure you have listed your business accurately.
- Multiple Profile: It’s impossible to leave a review if the customers cannot find your business. Make sure your local business clients are listed on a variety of review sites. Yelp, Facebook and Google are some of the basics for every industry but the ideal list varies by industry. Usually it doesn’t take long to set up profiles on these review sites.
- Ask: You can add a particular place in your website or mobile app where customers can give feedback. You can even ask them to put a comment on the box and thus you can get more reviews. No matter how busy the customers are if they love your business they will respond.
- Make Customers Aware: Using some innovative visible suggestions like “Review us on Yelp” is a good reminder for customers. You can hand a card or a small message while they visit your business. A gentle reminder is always better than a nagging post.
- Use Software: Using automated software to follow up your customers can be good indicative. Send reminders to customers via email will help maintain a trickle of reviews. Thus your business becomes trustworthy after every moment.
The idea of online reviews have moved from “nice to have” to essential. Customers are more likely to show very interest to these sites for feedback and updating profiles. Even responding to reviews and engaging with business owners becomes increasingly more important. The digital age customer service is maintaining positive word of mouth via online review sites. The gamut of challenges and opportunities has been recognized by business owners and consumers. Though online reviews have been prevalent for many years it is now definite. Online reviews are the new gem to business. For the early and long lasting success in online business generating reviews, responding to them has become obvious for business owners.