I’m a hotel snob. If you’re away from home, you might as well feel like it’s a relaxing treat, right? I rely on online reviews when I’m going someplace new and am unsure where to stay. Star ratings are great, but I want the nitty gritty. I want to see what people took the time to write about in the comments. Those things made an impression — positive or negative — on them. I choose the hotel with the best reviews at the most reasonable price.
I use online reviews when searching for all types of products and services. That sweater I thought about ordering from Amazon — Nope! Scratchy fabric, according to a reviewer. A reviewer claimed a new nail salon was the most relaxing pedicure she’d ever had. Sold! And even a new restaurant — Try the home tots. They’re the best!
I’m not alone in my review-seeking ways. More customers are reading online reviews than ever before. Almost 40% of people worldwide report using reviews to research brands and products, while 98% use reviews to learn about local businesses. And that’s why reviews are important for your business. People are searching for real information about businesses, and you want them to find yours.
Reviews Provide Social Proof
So what is it about reviews? Why do so many people search for and rely on them? It’s because reviews show social proof.
Social proof is the idea that people copy the behavior of others because they don’t want to miss out on something worthwhile. People will want your product or service if they know others do too. Online reviews help people see that others like and use your brand.
People like social proof because it minimizes their risk of trying a product or service. They know other people use it and like it, making them feel more confident in their purchase.
The opposite also is true. People trust others, even people they don’t know, to help them avoid products or services that are subpar or that waste their time or money.
Where to Place Reviews
You know people are looking for reviews, but how do you ensure they find your business reviews? First, review the various options to decide where you want to collect reviews.
Google Business Profile
Google Business Profile is Google’s online search tool for businesses. It allows you to set up your location, hours, website, and phone number and provide a map to your business. It also lets you post photos of your business, product, and services. And most importantly, for this discussion, you can collect and respond to customer reviews there. Since Google is the most popular search engine and customer review site, we strongly recommend GBP for getting your business seen by potential customers.
Did you know that 2.9 billion people use Facebook? Regardless of what anyone says or thinks about the platform, people use it, which means you likely want to have a business page there. With that page comes the opportunity for reviews.
Facebook Recommendations are one of the more popular ways that people leave reviews online. People also pay attention to the recommendations. More than half of people consider Facebook a place to get business recommendations, and people visit business pages daily when using the platform.
You don’t want to miss out on that level of potential attention.
Other Third-Party Platforms
This recommendation is a little vague but stick with me here. A third-party platform is any site that collects reviews that isn’t affiliated with your business. Which ones you want to set up profiles on depends greatly on your business type. For example, Yelp is a popular platform for business reviews. TripAdvisor is fabulous if you’re in the travel industry. If you sell products on Amazon, you’ll certainly want to collect reviews there. Do some research in your industry and determine if there are other sites you should have profiles on, then claim them.
A word of caution. Just like on social media, remember that you don’t have to be present on every platform. Go to where your customers and potential customers are and set up your profiles there. Only set up profiles you can actively manage. If you only have profiles in a few places, that’s fine! It’s better to manage them well than to have profiles for the sake of having them.
Of course, you want to have customer reviews and testimonials on your home ground. Control is the best thing about reviews on your website. You can solicit them and see them before they’re public. You also can post them in the format you want. Consider written and video reviews on your site.
Best Practices for Gathering Reviews
How do you get reviews now that you know where you want to have them? It feels a little embarrassing to have a review profile with no reviews, right? Also, it’s not helpful to potential customers trying to decide whether your business is right for them. Once you set up your review profiles, you want to actively solicit reviews.
To gather reviews:
- Ask. The easiest way to get online reviews is to ask. Once you set up your profiles, ask some of your regular and best customers to provide reviews. Then continue asking customers along the way. Consider printing a call for reviews on the bottom of receipts or in a flyer you place in bags. Reviews are positive for your business, so continue actively asking for them.
- Make It Simple. People are more likely to review your business if it’s easy to do. Consider automating the review process by making it a final step in your online checkout process or part of a follow-up email or booking process.
- Offer an Incentive. Everyone loves to get something they value for their efforts. Run a contest to encourage customers to provide online feedback for a chance to win a product/service. Offer a discount code on their next purchase to customers who provide reviews.
- Show Gratitude. It’s such a little thing, but responding to reviews matters. Even if it’s an automated “thank you” email, people like to know that you appreciate their time and efforts. They also want to know you will read and consider their feedback, whether it’s positive or negative.
The most common thing business owners worry about with online reviews is people posting something negative about their business. After all, you don’t want potential customers going online and seeing that someone had a bad customer experience. You can’t control what people post online about your business, but you can control how you respond.
Most people won’t patronize a business with negative online reviews, but they also won’t go to a business without reviews. So, it’s worth it to accept the risk, especially if you believe in the quality of your business.
Respond to reviews as often as possible, whether positive or negative. It’s tempting to only respond to one or the other, but customers are savvy these days and look for these things. Positive reviews are easy to respond to with gratitude. Think of negative reviews as a learning opportunity. Take any constructive criticism you can from the review and implement it into your business. Apologize to the customer for their experience and try to make it right if you can.
Don’t let a negative review get you down. Instead, keep soliciting feedback and improving where necessary. People notice when you have far more positive online reviews than negative ones and still look favorably upon your business.
Let Content Journey Help
Online reviews are important for your business because they show potential customers that others have found value in what you offer. Reviews also minimize the risk of trying your products or services and give people a reason to buy. Want help getting your business noticed by Google, so people find it when they’re searching? Content Journey can help you establish and manage your Google Business Profile and increase organic traffic to your website. Contact us today to learn more.