SEA Marketing Agency

Why online reviews should be part of your marketing strategy in 2016

A staggering 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation (BrightLocal survey). However, it’s surprising how few companies are taking advantage of this.

Online reviews influence our decision-making processes all the time. From Amazon product reviews, to TripAdvisor, and Google to TrustPilot, you’re sure to have come across reviews that have affirmed or altered your intended behaviour.

Whether they’re product reviews built into an eCommerce website or service based reviews on third party sites, you shouldn’t ignore the power of online reviews.

Online reviews can help your business to:

We’ve put together some top tips to help get you started…

How do I set up online reviews?

This will depend on your sector and requirements.

However, we believe that Google My Business is a great place to start. This is a free Google service, designed to complement your website and helps improve your online presence across Google Search, Maps and Google+. It helps web users to:

To register your company on Google My Business, visit https://www.google.com/business/ and click ‘Get on Google’. You will need to input your company details and verify your account in order to access the full features and benefits.

Please note that Google My Business has replaced Google Places. If you have an existing account, this will have been automatically upgraded. We would strongly recommend you log in and check that your information is up to date.

You can also use social media channels such as Facebook to build online reviews.

How do I start getting customer reviews?

To start getting some traction, we’d recommend writing to your existing customers (probably within the last 12 months depending on the volume of customers you have) to request reviews.

Be aware that you are asking them to do you a favour, so stress how important their feedback is to your organisation and make the process as simple as possible for them by supplying instructions and links.

How can I encourage more customer reviews?

It’s not always necessary, but you can incentivise customers to leave reviews. The incentives must be provided for any reviews (not just to reward positive ones as you cannot be seen to be ‘buying’ reviews). Monthly prizedraws or money off vouchers often work well, but need to be administrated properly.

Can I ask my staff to leave reviews?

If they’ve been a customer of your company, then this is OK, but you do need to think about how this might look to potential customers. It may be seen as a way of bloating positive reviews and could be misleading or disingenuous.

How do I encourage regular reviews?

As and when you finish a project/service, the customer should be contacted with an email follow up to request a review (this can be tied in to a general service/thank-you message).

If appropriate, it is worth informing any customer-facing delivery teams about this initiative, as they are likely to receive compliments on the work face to face and could easily ask the customer if they would mind putting that in writing. You could even extend this to getting cards printed with aftercare/support details and a call to action to leave a review.

Always make sure you monitor and thank your reviewers. Should you receive a negative review, you will need to address this promptly and efficiently (see below).

How do I deal with negative reviews?

There will always be a small portion of customers who feel they have cause for complaint. However, this data can be incredibly valuable in identifying areas of weakness to help improve your service going forward.

A minority of negative reviews are also good for building trust – sometimes a company with perfect reviews can seem ‘too good to be true’.

Make sure you deal with any negative reviews promptly and visibly in the first instance so that users can see you are taking action to address this. Be sure to show concern to receive such feedback and reassure them that resolving their query is of the upmost importance to your company. Inform them that you will be in touch directly to discuss further to move the finer details of the conversation offline and away from visibility. In some situations, once resolved, it may be appropriate to ask whether the customer would be happy to remove or edit their review.

Please note that if you are likely to receive a high number of negative reviews, you will need to question whether encouraging reviews is appropriate for your company at this stage. It may be wise to take time to address any issues likely to cause concern before implementing an online review strategy.

How can I make the most of these reviews?

Having a bank of online reviews in itself will add enormous value to your business, not least setting you apart from the competition and allowing your potential customers to make more informed decisions about purchasing from you.

In addition, your reviews can be condensed into testimonials and shared across online and offline marketing activities (e.g. social media feed, website content, print collateral). Always seek the customer’s permission first.

Helping to maximise opportunities for promoting your business is all part of the service at SEA. Get in touch today on 01227 768808 or info@sea-ltd.co.uk to find out more about our consultancy and marketing services.