How to Use Reviews to Grow Your Business

The internet is a great equalizer when it comes to creating a level playing field between businesses of different sizes and resources. This is partially caused by the rise of powerful reviews. The opinions of total strangers are becoming increasingly important to business owners. Why? Because it is easy for a disgruntled customer to go online and spread their discontent to millions of other potential customers. You do not want to waste away in one-star land at the mercy of a few dissatisfied customers. What you need are positive reviews. Here’s how to get them: 

1. Set Up Profiles:

If you haven’t already set up company profiles on major review hubs like Yelp, Angie’s List, Google Local and TripAdvisor. Not only is it beneficial to your search engine optimization, but potential customers are suspicious when they can’t find you listed in obvious locations. You can bet they’ll move on to a competitor. If you don’t have the time to do this personally, find a local web marketing company to help. 

2. One Simple Question:

The easiest way to get more reviews is simply to explain how important they are to your current customers, and politely ask them to leave a review. When asking, also tell them exactly how to do it in the quickest and easiest way possible. It’s bad to ask for a good review, so just request they leave their honest opinion. A happy customer will know what to do. Your web design should take this into account as well. Place a request for reviews in a prominent location. 

3. Incentivize:

The honest truth is that even your best customers will either forget or not want to take the time to write a review. That’s when you need to provide motivation, like a giveaway drawn from all reviewers for that month. Be sure to make it clear that this incentive is offered only for the writing of a review and not for writing a good review. Even the appearance that you’re paying for good reviews could do more damage than it’s worth. 

4. Say Thanks:

Read reviews that people leave and make sure to follow them up with a sincere thank you. Maybe even offer a discount on a future purchase. Never respond impolitely to a negative review. How you handle yourself online in the face of adversity can have a huge effect on future reviewers. If you’ve fallen short, admit it and offer to make it up. 

5. Employee Reward Program:

Long gone are the times where only the boss asks for reviews. Make it part of your company’s overall process and train every single employee to ask for reviews when they come in contact with customers or even just potential customers. Offer a bonus of some sort when new reviews are noted. It could be a small cash reward or coupons for food or movies. The goal is to get everyone involved. 

Managing Reviews With a Point Person 

It’s a good idea, as a business owner, to either respond personally to reviews or designate one (and only one) staff member you trust to tend to this task. They should be level-headed and able to express themselves well through writing. The goal is to respond to every single review posted within 24 hours. Obviously, this is not always feasible, but it should be a target that you measure yourself against. While some companies hire a Gainesville web marketing company for this work, which is not a bad idea, it seems more authentic when an actual representative of the company is involved to some extent at least. 

Why It’s Critical to Manage Your Online Reputation Personally 

If you ever doubt the necessity of personally managing your online reputation, think of how you use reviews in your role as a consumer. How does it affect your buying decision if you see a product or service with no stars or even a sprinkling of one and two-star reviews? You move onto the next one, right? You should take as much interest in your online reputation as you do with your offline reputation. Ultimately, they should reflect one another. 

The Bottom Line

The time to tend to your online reputation and to start encouraging reviews is not after you notice a few bad ones piling up. Get ahead of this issue because it can steamroll you and torpedo your business quickly when something goes wrong. You may have never thought of it in this way but managing your reviews (to the extent you can) will have a major impact on the rest of your local SEO and internet marketing efforts.