Online reviews are the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth and can impact your bottom line significantly. In a recent study done by the Harvard Business school, restaurants rated in Washington on Yelp that had a 1 star increase in their review gained an average of 5 to 9 percent of their revenues. Another study, done by Boston Consulting, estimated that businesses that had a Yelp profile, increased their revenues by an additional $8,000 per year, even when they didn’t advertise on the site. Thus, reviews can be an excellent way to create more business, but not every business is aware of what channels are out there or how to properly manage their reviews to get more positive feedback, and avoid the negative. To get an exceptional reputation, it requires that businesses learn how to manage their online reputation like a professional.

The Negative Review: Can It Be Avoided?

The first fear a business has when thinking about putting up profiles on different review sites is the potential for a dissatisfied customer to post a negative review.

That fear is based on a very real problem: Managing negative feedback. However, so many businesses take the route that they just won’t post a profile and therefore they can avoid the negative review by just not being online. Unfortunately, this ostrich-like approach doesn’t work because online sites, such as Yelp don’t require that you post your own profile for others to post reviews about your business.

In fact, not having a profile can make it almost certain that the first review people see is a negative one, because that will be the person most motivated to fill out a profile for you. The fact, is most people are aware that there are dissatisfied customers in every business, and the key to managing your online reputation isn’t to refuse to participate, but to engage multiple customers so that the good reviews outweigh the occasional bad one. Also, if you hire an expert marketing company, they can show you how to manage your bad reviews so that they can showcase how your company cares about their customers, gaining you even more kudos online.

Common Places People Go for Reviews

When a customer is figuring out whether to try a new restaurant or whether to buy from a particular vendor, it’s a very common thing to look up an online review these days to find out what they can expect. In a Local Consumer Review Survey, completed by BrightLocal, they found that consumers are engaging online reviews more now, with as many as 88 percent turning to an online review in 2014 before making a buying decision. The number of people checking out an online review every day more than doubled in 2014 from 7 percent to 15 percent. People are looking at multiple reviews and ratings to decide whether to take action on a review or not, from buying something to a visiting a local establishment. Here are some of the places they might go online to check out an online review:

Amazon - Actually, any online marketplace from Etsy, eBay, to Amazon will allow buyers to post reviews of the seller. These reviews can impact the buying perception of people who want to know whether you can be trusted to deliver an item, since most sellers are individuals, not professional businesses. However, if you do business in these venues, the rating will also apply to your business and can be one way to differentiate yourself from the many other tiny buyers online. What most buyers look for is reliability of service more than anything. With a larger customer base, you can get more positive reviews easily.

Yelp - This review site helps locals find businesses in their area, from restaurants to health and medical services. Based on a 5-star system, if you can get your profile to show 4 to 5 star consistently, it can be the ideal way to bring customers to your door when they are in your neighborhood doing an online search on their smartphones.

Google Plus Local - Another excellent mobile site is Google Plus Local. People may be trying to get directions using Google Maps and find out what’s nearby with reviews. Businesses with the most positive reviews can land on top of the search results, making it a way to get more exposure.

How to Get More Reviews

There are a few ways to generate positive reviews, although you may need to read the online review site’s policies to make sure you aren’t doing something against their terms of service. Businesses can do the following:

1. Ask for the Review - Just don’t have them fill it out in your store as multiple reviews from a single IP will indicate fake review postings. Some review sites will also tell you that you can’t ask for a review.

2. Leverage Social Media - Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn can be sites that help you get the word out about your business and that can encourage others to leave positive feedback on your review sites.

3. Be Professional About Bad Reviews - If you can learn to manage a bad review, without animosity, you will create the space for others to come to your defense. This can generate more good reviews in the long run.

Lastly, if you have trouble keeping your cool about negative reviews or simply find it too much trouble to manage multiple reviews coming in, hire a professional to take care of your reviews and profile. We have extra tools, like call tracking, that can measure the return on your investment in review management to get the total picture of how your digital strategy is working.

Contact us for all your online reputation management and online review needs today.

References:

Nautilus (2014) One Percenters Control Online Reviews. Retrieved from http://nautil.us/issue/12/feedback/one-percenters-control-online-reviews

People Are Trusting Online Reviews More than Ever. http://www.webpronews.com/people-are-trusting-online-reviews-more-than-ever-2014-07