As you all know, customer reviews are more influential now than they’ve ever been. More consumers look for customer reviews than pricing and deals. No serious marketer can get away with ignoring customer reviews in a modern setting.
So, how do we go about developing a strategy for earning those reviews? Below, I’ve laid down five steps that you can take right now. By no means should you take this as boilerplate without working it into your overall business strategy, but this step-by-step guide will give you a solid foundation to get online reviews.
How to Get Online Reviews
Let’s get started.
1. Set Up Google My Business
Google ratings are more likely to influence your performance and trust in the search engines than anything else, so claiming your business on Google and encouraging users to leave reviews there should be your first step.
More likely than not, your business will already have a listing, and you will just need to claim it. You can search for your business to claim it, here.
Take care to ensure that your business information is entered with 100 percent accuracy and in a manner that is fully consistent with the way it is listed on your website. It’s important that Google understands that your website and Google My Business profile are directly connected, and the only way to ensure that is to be entirely consistent with your address and phone number.
Next, you will need to verify your business by email. Google will send you a code via Gmail to verify that you have access to mail at that address.
Make sure to fully complete your Google profile. Treat it with the same care you would treat your website with. Your Google listing is what people will be interacting with when they leave a review, as well as the first thing people will see when they discover you in Google Maps and local search results.
Add as many photos as possible for your listing, include as much description as possible, and naturally incorporate your keywords into the content and titles.
Finally, pick up your PlaceID here and add it to this address, after the equals sign: https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=
Include links to this URL in your confirmation emails and in other communications, where your customer is likely to be interested in leaving you a review. Tactfully, let your customers know that they can leave a Google review at this address.
2. Sign Up For A Review Platform
I recommend using a review platform like Trustpilot since platforms like these include features such as automatic review invitations and embedded review forms, as well as code snippets that will get your star ratings listed in the search results.
In choosing a review platform, look for the following:
- The site’s homepage should be focused on consumers. If the site’s homepage is focused on businesses, the focus is in the wrong place. If consumers aren’t using the site to find and write reviews, the reviews you earn from using the platform aren’t going to do you any good.
- Make sure that a legitimate effort is made to police the reviews for spam. The point of reviews here, is earning trust, and roughly, half of US adults already have trust issues with reviews, although they still trust them more than content produced by the companies themselves.
- Verify that the platform provides badges, which help with conversion rates, as well as code snippets to get your star ratings in the search results.
3. Identify Your Primary Industry Review Sites
After signing up for a review platform that will partially automate the process of review invitation, look into industry-specific review sites. Some industries will feature highly specific review sites, which target that specific industry.
If no industry-specific review sites exist, do a search for reviews for your competitors, and of course for your own brand name and reviews, to determine where searchers are most likely to discover reviews for sites and brands similar to yours.
If any reviews already exist, be sure to respond to them, and take any steps necessary to correct frustrations previous consumers may have had. Seventy-eight percent of consumers feel that brands care more about them if they respond to customer reviews, so keep this audience in mind.
You will need to make a strategic decision about which sites to begin encouraging customers to leave reviews on. In addition to Google My Business and review platform sites, encouraging users to leave reviews on more sites could lead to indecision fatigue, so you will need to be selective, and possibly consider sending different invitations to different customers.
You will also need to weigh the pros and cons of sending reviewers to sites that may be saturated with negative reviews. Some sites are designed to attract negative reviews and may even blackmail companies to have the negative reviews taken down, so take care in choosing which battles to pick.
4. Set Up Monitoring For Your Brand Name
As I mentioned above, consumers trust a business more if it responds to online reviews. Unfortunately, responding to online reviews in a timely manner isn’t necessarily as easy as it sounds.
The bare minimum here is Google Alerts, which you can use to receive alerts whenever somebody mentions your brand online. Unfortunately, this tool does not work nearly as well as it used to and does not seem to be well maintained.
It has become a common practice for some customers to treat online reviews like customer support. This expectation isn’t an easy one for companies to meet, but if you can, consumers who are interested in your products will be much more likely to trust your brand.
When you respond to customer reviews, it is important not to get defensive or accusatory. Some customers may ask for unreasonable things and you are under no obligation to meet those demands, but you are always obligated to treat reviewers with respect, due to the simple fact that anybody else who comes across your response will expect to be treated in the same way.
5. Allow Product Reviews On Your Site
Placing product reviews on your site can be a scary move, but the studies almost universally indicate that such reviews are more likely to boost sales than hurt them. The highest converting products actually have ratings between 4.0 and 4.7, so the occasional negative review isn’t a bad thing; it actually increases your conversion rates.
Adding user reviews to your site can triple the conversion rates in some circumstances, and conversion rates are based more on the number of reviews than on the review score. Anything you can do to earn more reviews is likely to help you.
Make sure to use a trusted review platform to obtain your customer reviews, since anything less is likely to be met with skepticism.
Get Those Reviews
The modern consumer is more skeptical and more perceptive than ever before. The smart marketer understands the value of consumer-to-consumer interaction and the level of trust it is capable of imparting on your brand. Use the steps above as a starting point to get that conversation going.
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