It’s been reported that for every star a business gets, it will see an increase of approximately 5-9% in business revenue. So if an increase like that sounds good to you, start paying attention to those reviews.
What would be the benefit of a 5-9% increase in your business?
Whatever the answer is, would it be worth spending an hour or two per week responding to online customer reviews for your business? Having an online reputation management plan for reviews can have many positive effects.
It shows potential new customers that you understand customer service and it doesn’t just happen at your location, but also happens online, and before or after the customer engages in a transaction with you.
Positive reviews can help improve how your business ranks in local search. “Prominence,” as defined by Google, is “how well-known a business is.” The third factor that Google uses to determine local ranking in search, prominence factors in recent ratings and reviews. You can read more about that here. When someone uses the word “best” in a search query (like “best restaurant,” “best plumber,” or “best hospital”) the search engines interpret that as a signal that they use ratings to quantify.
In the article Crush Your Competition with these Website Building Basics, I talked about how to “super juice” up your website with first-party reviews. First-party reviews are feedback that a business asks customers for directly — and which live on a business’s own website.
That’s correct. You can have real reviews from real customers live on your website.
If you are really gunning for success, first-party reviews should be part of your online reputation management plan. According to Yext, “Customers and search engines make decisions about your brand every day based on your ratings and reviews. If you don’t pay attention to this important source of customer feedback, you could be leaving revenue on the table.”
So take the time to properly manage those first-party reviews — they can help your business to be found online.
Before we dive deeper into first-party reviews and how you can leverage them for your business, let’s have a quick refresher on third-party reviews. When a customer leaves a review of your business on a site that is not your business’s website (e.g. Google, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Foursquare, etc.), that is considered a third-party review. In other words, they are reviews that are on third-party websites.
Now let’s talk about first-party reviews. The big difference between these and third-party reviews, is that they live on the website for your business. They are a powerful tool in driving customer advocacy and SEO results, but there are guidelines that you have to follow. In short, you can’t “fake the funk on a nasty dunk.” Basically, they have to be 100% real and unbiased.
First-party reviews have to be completely genuine and you cannot filter out which ones people see when they come to your website. Meaning if you get a 1 or 2 star review, it has to be shown. If you went to visit a business’ website and they only had 5-star reviews, wouldn’t your Spidey-senses start tingling? The internet works the same way. By having an online reputation management plan, you can help to correct issues that caused a lower rating as well as help to generate more positive reviews that can drown out the low star reviews.
There are no universal comprehensive guidelines out there on first-party review conduct. That’s mostly because each of the publishers and intelligent services have their own rules. And those rules frequently change. That being said, there are some good rules of conduct you can follow with first-party reviews that won’t steer you wrong.
- Do not do anything that incentivizes customers to leave a review
- Ask all your customers for a review (don’t only ask customers you know are happy)
- Do not cherry-pick or delete any reviews, no matter how negative
- Reviews cannot be written by the business owner, employees or associates
If you operate inside those guidelines, you should be in safe shape.
How do you get first-party reviews on your website?
Well that’s where compliance gets easy. You’ll need to use a system or software as a service to collect and manage your reviews. I’d, of course, point you to Yext, who offers a first-party review collection and management system as part of their overall review management solution. It also offers instant notifications and a system of organization that allows you to see every review customers leave of your business across the web, and to filter those reviews by site, star rating, response, and other items. It’s really powerful. However, there are other options out there.
Once you’ve chosen a system, it’s important that you reply to all reviews — no matter how positive or negative — and demonstrate that outstanding customer service you’re known for.
According to marketing and customer service expert Jay Baer, one-third of customer complaints are never answered, and most of these take place online. “No answer is in fact, an answer,” says Jay. “It’s an answer that says we don’t care about you or your feedback at all.”
Knowing this, it’s important for companies to pay attention to what is being said about them online. And to be sure to respond to each and every review or message that they can.
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