By Lydia Barley
Online reviews have become a go-to for all consumers. With consumers checking online reviews before making a purchasing decision. Even when not actively seeking for a review, if one pops up it guides our purchasing decision; whether we are put off by a review that publicly shames the business or are enticed to buy a product by a glowing review of it. Online reviews make or break a business. Therefore, no matter the size or industry your business is in, generating online reviews is crucial for the success and longevity of your business.
What are Online Reviews?
An online review is a written statement left directly by a client on a website/platform. These online reviews provide potential clients with information about the product, service or company based on the experiences of other consumers.
Reviews can be left on a number of different platforms such as the business’ own website, on social media, on the business’ Google local listing or on a specific review platform, like Yelp.
Why are Reviews Important?
One of our previous blog posts, Online Reviews And What They Mean For Local SEO discussed the primary benefits of online reviews. These benefits included: unique content generation, a boost in click through rates and finding what long tail keywords to optimize and rank for.
Getting Positive Reviews
1. The first step to getting online reviews is to ensure that clients are actually able to leave reviews for your business, by ensuring you are available on and have an account for review platforms. Set up a Yelp account, enable reviews on your Facebook page, set up your Google account. Whatever channel it is, make sure you’ve created an account and are able to receive reviews.
2. What’s next is to simply ask clients for reviews. While it may seem intimidating Bright Local found that 68% of consumers left a local business review when asked. So, reach out to your customers, private message them, email them or leave a note with their delivery. Choose whichever method of asking is most appropriate for you and get asking!
3. Follow up with your request. After a couple of days, if the customer has not yet left a review follow up with them and ask again. It may be that they have been busy and simply forgot!
4. Respond to the reviews that you have. Thank your customers for leaving them. Doing so not only shows that you are attentive and care about your customers’ opinions but shows that you genuinely want reviews.
Tips for asking for online reviews
- Don’t waste any time, ask straight away! It’s better to ask a customer for a review when you’re fresh in their mind. The longer you leave it, the less likely the customer will leave a review.
- When asking experiment with what language you use and find out which generates more reviews. For example, set up an A/B test for an email campaign where one takes on a formal approach and the other takes on a more casual approach. Find out which works for you.
- Ensure that the process of leaving a review is easy; if the process it too difficult most people won’t bother. For example, you can try make it so that the customer leaves a review from the channel they came, that way you know the consumer can access that channel easily and does not have to create any additional accounts.
- Don’t offer incentives for leaving reviews. We cannot stress this one enough. There are a number of different rules around offering incentives for reviews which will vary depending on your location and the review platform that you are using. Check your local laws and the rules outlined by the review platform to ensure that you are complying with them, otherwise you could be left with a hefty fine and/or you could lose all your reviews (like this one business did with their Google reviews!).
Managing negative reviews
No matter how intimidating and upsetting they can be, consider negative reviews as an opportunity to improve.
1. Firstly, don’t ignore the review or block the reviewer! Every negative review needs to be responded to.
2. Remain professional and objective. Take some time out to calm yourself down and plan your response rationally. Being driven by your emotions and being unpleasant or rude will not only annoy the reviewer more but will put off any potential customers who see your response.
3. In your response thank the reviewer, offer a solution to their problem and adopt change. Doing so will show that you are open to reviews, that you care about what your customers think and that you are willing to fix any issues. Attached below is an example written by the team at the Stamford Plaza in Brisbane, this example thanks the reviewer, sincerely apologises and shows that they have adopted change.
Managing fake reviews
While we hope and want to believe that all reviews online are genuine, the truth is that there are reviews from individuals that are false and/or is inaccurate to the actual turn of events.
Although we recommend customising your responses to each review according to the nature of the review, here are some general tips to help deal with false or inaccurate reviews:
1. Attempt to get them removed by the relevant platform.
2. Again take some time to calm yourself down before responding. Take a deep breath and don’t let your emotions drive your response.
3.Respond positively to them, exactly as you would a normal negative review.
a. Point out that you do not know them or do not have anyone within your client base under their name then state that if they are a customer then you are happy to work towards fixing the issue.
b. If the real story behind the review was twisted by the individual be polite but you can mention this in the review. However we recommend that you always end in a supportive note e.g. “We will take your feedback on board” or “We are happy and willing to continue discussing this, so please provide your email to us”.
c. Think about how your future prospects will read this response, don’t act out and get aggressive, remain positive, light-hearted and willing to help.
Online reviews are crucial for your business success and therefore it’s important to understand how to generate them, how to respond to negative reviews and how to manage fake reviews. Building reviews is an ongoing process, and after this article you should be one step closer to a platform full of glowing reviews.