Online reviews are becoming increasingly influential in customers buying decisions. Google, Facebook, Yelp, Angie's List and many other review and consumer feedback sites can all be make or break tools for a business. For a small business owner, your first bad online review can be devastating. We live in a generation of sharing, where it takes seconds for a customer to find and review you, and once the review is online, it's not coming off.
According to a recent Zendesk survey, 90% of participants claimed that positive online reviews influenced their buying decision, and 86% said their decision was influenced by negative reviews. That means that a Google review can influence your business far more than a Google Ad.
Instead of focusing on what to do about one or two bad reviews, the most effective way to combat a few negative words is to load up on the great reviews. You will need to encourage your happy customers to take the time to write about their experiences.
Here are four tips to get you started:
1. Set up profiles on multiple review sites. Google My Business is a no-brainer, but many people forget to set up Yelp, Angie's List (if it applies), Facebook Business Page, Yahoo Local, Trip Advisor, Trust Pilot, etc. Pick the ones that are relevant to your business, and make sure all your details are listed and consistent.
2. A common misconception is that asking for reviews is in poor taste, or even illegal. That is not the case, and not asking for reviews from your happy customers is hurting you. If they had a great experience, they won't be annoyed. The next time someone sends you a raving "thank you" email, graciously reply and ask if he or she'd be willing to share his or her experience on Google. Chances are they will.
3. Unless someone has a negative experience to share, it is likely that he or she are not going to go out of their way to leave you a review. Include direct links to give reviews in your follow-up emails, your email signature, newsletter, or website.
4. Incentivizing reviews is a great way to jumpstart your positive online presence. Important - you need to make sure your offer is for writing a review, and not for writing a good review. Monthly giveaways are effective and fun ways to encourage reviews and gives no impression that you are paying for them.
Once you get your first couple reviews, you will probably find that you won't have to ask as often for people to leave their feedback. Remember to thank your positive reviewers, follow-up on negative reviews, and most importantly, take care of your customers. They'll take care of you too.
This article was published in The Advisor, College of DuPage on April 2nd, 2018