Companies with a local presence have taken note that effective review management is critical for revenue. No doubt that review management offers many opportunities surrounding improved brand perception, customer engagement, revenue, and even business intelligence. But it is hard work! Marketers and business owners are faced daily with tough questions:
- Do negative reviews hurt my business?
- How do I get more reviews?
- How can I stay on top of all my reviews?
- Are my efforts paying off?
So, I’d like to outline a few best practices to help address some of these challenges. As a search marketer, one common question I get is how best to respond to negative reviews. My answer is always this: Be timely, transparent, and honest. Don’t get defensive, and remember to respond to positive reviews, too. These people are your biggest fans and most effective champions!
Another common question is how to increase revenue from online reviews? While it is still somewhat difficult to accurately measure exactly how much ratings improvements impact your bottom line, we do know and understand that great reviews drive business.
1. How To Get More Reviews
Businesses that have heaps of reviews are more trusted by consumers. In addition, having more reviews than your competitors is an algorithmic indicator that will help to improve your listing’s visibility. So, when is it appropriate to ask your customers to leave a review? During the checkout / payment process or when receiving unsolicited feedback is perfectly acceptable.
Additionally, promotions and requests in any follow-up emails will help to build your listing’s review content. Lastly, taking advantage of those in-store decals and reminding website visitors by adding social icons ‘above the fold’ will remind customers to leave reviews.
2. How to Optimize Your Listing
The first step in optimizing your local listing is to claim it. Whether that is on Google Places, Yelp, or TripAdvisor, it is critical way to let the third-party site know for official verification. The second step is to ensure all listings are complete with up to date content that matches your website content. The more fields that are completed (store hours, pictures, videos, etc.) the more value you are providing to the end user, and thus the third party has a vested interested in “rewarding” your listing with better visibility.
Other factors that go into how listings are ranked are not as easy to control—things like the quality and recency of reviews as well as the credibility of the reviewer (are they active Yelp users that have already given +200 reviews for various businesses?).
3. Addressing Themes
Aggregating and effectively addressing common themes that stem from user-generated content is, in my opinion, one of the most underutilized tactics and greatest missed opportunities for marketers and business owners alike.
By understanding at a higher level what customers really are seeking from your business, there is an opportunity for organizational improvement. By actively working to address customer service issues for example, you are improving your business as a whole which will ultimately result in better reviews, more business, and greater revenue.
Yes, you might encounter some themes that might be beyond your control—small hotel rooms, for example. A few tips on how to address common themes that might emerge from your analysis:
Change what you can control:
- Customer service –> be nicer
- Dirty bathrooms –> clean them
- Expensive Wi-Fi –> offer promos
- Outdated décor –> time for an update?
- Long wait time –> be faster
Message what you can’t control:
- Small rooms –> historical hotel, cozy atmosphere, etc.
- No parking lot –> in the city! Walking distance to movies, art, etc…
The point is, while it is important to monitor reviews and respond to reviews, don’t forget to look at the big picture. This type of user-generated content is a gold mine that should be leveraged to improve your business, not just manage your reputation.
If you haven’t already started formally tracking your progress as review management efforts are underway, it is time to do so. A few helpful metrics to be sure to track:
- Consistent themes
- Trended ratings
- Competitor rating trends
- Competitive differentiators (free business intelligence!)
- Revenue from review sites
- Number of reviews
Again, effective review management is hard work. With that said, your ratings and visibility can be improved through optimization and active monitoring, responsiveness, and internal tracking. More importantly, review management is not simply reputation management but great business management that can significantly impact your bottom line.