Businesses (especially the small ones) do not care about the reviews they receive online for their products and services till they are receiving them (mostly) in good favor. This is clear with the fact that only 36% small businesses are investing in review marketing. Their tendency to ignore the few negative reviews, thinking that they are potentially not so damaging, are later proven to be the first and the deepest scratch given to their online business reputation.
Why Reviews and Testimonials Matter
Business owners often fail to understand the role that reviews and testimonials play in building a good as well as a bad online reputation for their businesses. And with a huge 80-90% of consumers visiting online review websites before making a purchase, they can’t afford to lose here!
Before going any further, we should first discuss about the elements of review marketing:
- Reviews: Reviews are unedited public chatter about a brand’s products and services. Previously, they were a purview of professional critics but with the emergence of online review websites, anybody can publish review about your products, services, and even about your brand.
- Testimonials: Unlike reviews, testimonials are solicited comments from your best clients. Businesses fetch these to put it in their marketing materials. It demonstrates that you have satisfied customers that stand by your business.
- Referrals: A referral is when one of your satisfied customers willingly tells another person about their positive experience with you. Nothing does a better marketing of your brand than referrals. Even the best content you create for your business’ marketing doesn’t have the potential to draw customers as easily as referrals can do.
Review marketing is a part of online reputation management (ORM). ORM is a set of methods used to influence online perception about an entity such as a person, company, or brand. It takes control of the online conversation about your products, services, and your brand as a whole.
Here are the reasons why it’s essential to invest in review marketing:
- Small businesses rely hugely on references and with a huge 90% of consumers searching for product and service reviews online before making a purchase, you can’t afford to lose that space.
- If you’re not investing in it, that doesn’t mean others would also not do so. Your competitors will keep improving their reputation by fetching good reviews online and with a good number of stars added in the review, they will keep getting Google’s attention in showing their page to the consumers.
- The way consumers interpret online reviews continues to evolve. It can be a simple written review with number of stars assigned, or pictures or short video clips of the damaged or defected product, or even a full length, well crafted blog with all these elements at one place. It’s like creating review content with a whole lot of effort. You’ll need to invest robustly into online reputation management to counter them.
Here’s a Case Study
One of our very first clients in the daycare business always thought that it was bad to ask for feedback online. Despite our repeated requests (testimonials help in local ranking) they refused. “Having a feedback process is so tedious. We do good work. Parents are happy. We haven’t had a complain in two years.”
As it happens with everybody, their good time also didn’t last for long. One parent left a negative review on Yelp. We begged for a response from the center but they ignored. Soon another parent gave 3 star rating. That was the end of the fairy tale. There was no loss of traffic to the website, however their daycare which used to turn back parents for not having space found itself just half-filled in the new season. It made them think about online review, so they asked us about what to do next, we suggested:
- As an emergency measure, find happy parents and request them to leave reviews on any review site they are active.
- Respond to the negative review and the 3 star rating they had received.
- Use feedback cards on site. Sometimes people do not like things but the issue may be too small to complain. They speak about it online.
Loss incurred in 2 months: $16,000
Soon we were able to bring them back on track. Not only we were able to increase the website traffic, but the daycare had again started turning back the parents.
- A single negative comment does not matter among few positive comments, but just negative comments matter.
- Always claim your business account on all review and citation sites and have a good digital marketing team keep checking into the consumers conversations there.
- Search engines understand negative and positive reviews. It affects rankings.
- Include a banner in your business saying “Like us, let others know.” This way you can subtly encourage customers to leave reviews online. Other ways to ask for reviews:
- Ask customers for their email addresses and contact later asking them to review your services and/or products.
- Mention at checkout that you’d appreciate a review on Facebook, Google or whichever site is the most important for your industry.
- Post signs on your website asking your customers to review.
- Leave links to your business’s profile on Yelp, Google+, etc. on your website.
Digital space has changed the way we used to define a brand. It is no longer what it says about itself. Rather a brand is now what consumers tell each other. Referrals, reviews, and testimonials are nothing but content that comes into shape from the consumer’s voice. We need to understand and act according to that voice.
This was our 10th blog in a series of 13, answering the most crucial questions related to digital marketing.
Next week, we will come with our 11th blog that will deal with PPC, a crucial and trending topic in digital marketing. Stay right there till then…
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