Great online reviews are getting more important to the health of your brand with each passing day.
According to Spiegel Research Center, a product with five reviews is 270% more likely to be purchased than one with none.
But getting reviews online is only half the battle: responding to those reviews (and the quality of your response) is just as important.
That’s “Online Reputation Management” and in terms of online reviews it includes both knowing what customers are saying about your brand and what you are saying in response.
Your responses matter so much because potential customers aren’t just reading reviews to learn about your business – they’re paying close attention to how your business reacts, to both the good reviews and the not-so-good ones. In fact, “89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to [online] reviews” (BrightLocal).
Monitor Your Reviews
You can only respond effectively to online reviews if you’re aware of them. Be sure to track activity about your brand on all of the review sites customers and clients might be using, including the “Big Three” (Google, Facebook and Yelp) and those related to your industry, like TripAdvisor.com for travel, tourism and hospitality brands, Realtor.com and Zillow.com for real estate agents, and WebMD.com for medical professionals.
There are a variety of tools to help you track online reviews by “listening” for online mentions, including free ones like Google Alerts and paid social listening and monitoring tools like Social Mention, Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and BuzzSumo. More robust tools designed specifically for online reviews and reputation management like BirdEye do the monitoring and much more, making tracking, getting, and handling online reviews faster and easier.
Online Reviews: A Way to Engage With Your Customers
Monitoring online reviews lets you understand (in real time) what people think about your business – your brand’s online sentiment. It also means that you can respond (taking advantage of a great opportunity to engage with past, current and potential customers), and responses should be strategic and timely. Why? Because you’re never just responding to the individual reviewer. You’re writing for everyone who might ever see the review and the reply.
All reviews should get a reply from your business, and every reply should be well-planned and on-brand, After all, like every piece of content your business publishes online (from social posts to blog posts to webpages and articles and more) it’s a chance to show people your brand’s “personality”. Further, it’s a chance to show the world that you care about your customers, and that’s the most important part.
Every online review should be acknowledged in some way by your business. Good reviews should get a hearty and personalized “thanks”. Bad and negative reviews should be replied to too (online, so that the world can see you’re “on it”) and ideally with an invitation to take the communication offline while you work towards a resolution. For example: “We’re so sorry that you had that experience. We’d like to make it right. Please send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org…”
And then? Share! Share! Share! Take advantage of good reviews by sharing them wherever and whenever you can. If done strategically, it’s very possible to do this in a way that – instead of seeming boastful or self-promotional – it shows that your business truly cares that clients and customers are happy. Reviews can be shared as social posts, featured on your website, highlighted in eNewsletters and more.
More Tips for Responding to Reviews
Below is some food for thought as your business is crafting its “Online Reviews & Reputation Management Strategy and Policy” — something every business should have:
- Respond promptly. When you find new reviews, it’s essential to respond quickly. If someone writes something damaging to your business and it goes unchallenged for weeks, hundreds or even thousands of people could read it.
- Don’t let emotions cloud your judgment. When someone criticizes you online, it’s important to respond in a calm manner. Avoid getting into arguments with reviewers. This doesn’t help your reputation. Even if someone attacks you, respond with facts and not insults.
- Solve problems when you can. When you get a negative review, try to rectify the situation. If someone is dissatisfied, look for a way to redress the situation. Some people can’t be pleased. However, others will appreciate your efforts and revise their review if you take the trouble to address the issue. This may mean offering them a refund or replacement or providing them with helpful information on how to use your product or service.
- Thank your positive reviewers. Some businesses get so caught up in defending their reputation that they only respond to negative reviews. This is a mistake. You want to show your appreciation when someone takes the time to compliment you.
- When appropriate, respond privately. You should always write at least a brief public reply to reviews. However, if it’s a complicated issue or you need to discuss confidential details, the correspondence should be private. Invite the customer to contact you privately. If you have their contact information, you can take the initiative and call or email them.
- Take action on fraudulent reviews. Sometimes clients or even unscrupulous competitors may write something false about you. You may be able to get such reviews removed if you contact the review website.
Responding to Reviews May be Good for SEO
Responding to reviews may boost your search engine rankings too! Google is increasingly using reviews as a ranking factor for local SEO. When you have more online reviews, it increases your authority and shows Google that people are talking about your brand. You can further increase the authority of your reviews by responding to them.
The Google My Business support page itself tells businesses that responding to reviews increases visibility. Google uses a complex algorithm to rank websites and doesn’t reveal its exact criteria; however, it does reward businesses that establish trust and credibility. Search Engine Journal defines the Three Pillars of SEO as Authority, Relevance, and Trust. Responding to reviews is a good way to show Google as well as clients and prospects that you’re a trustworthy business.
Note: Your business should have a plan for collecting, monitoring and managing Online Employee Reviews too. These are as important to your brand’s overall online sentiment as reviews from customers and clients.
If you’re in business today, it’s likely that there are at least some reviews about your business online. Don’t wait to start managing those reviews, getting new (awesome and authentic) ones, and better handling any no-so-good reviews. After all, online reviews are a crucial part of establishing credibility for your business. Customers are very likely to consult reviews before choosing to do business with you.
Don’t have a strategy or policy in place? Start there. That will help you to ensure that your responses to reviews are on-brand and well-planned no matter which member of your team is handling them. Then make sure your business is listed on relevant review sites and that your customers know where to find you and how to leave a review. And don’t forget to share the good ones! Consider a tool to make all of this much easier.
We recommend using BirdEye’s online reviews management tool to simplify and automate your company’s online reviews management and growth. We like BirdEye so much we’ve become an official marketing partner and are able to offer up to 20% off regular BirdEye pricing. Learn more.