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How to Create a Reviews Strategy for Your Business

Importance of Designing A Strategy For Dealing With Reviews

According to research from Bright Local, 92% of consumers now read and trust online reviews for local businesses. Customer testimonials are an essential aspect of how prospective customers will discover you online and regard your local business. In fact, customer feedback is the most vital tools for acquiring customers online primarily because of their influence on customer behaviour.

The fact of the matter is, prospective customers don’t really care about what you say about your business. Rather, they care about what other people that have used your product or service have to say about the business. Reading about the positive real-life experiences of past customers is compelling social proof, and is the most powerful influence to the purchasing decision that a prospective customer is thinking about making.

With online ratings and reviews holding so much power over customer behavior, it has become necessary to have a robust, ongoing strategy for collecting reviews or capturing customer feedback online. Although reviews on your site are important to have, they won’t carry as much weight with prospects because many of your potential customers will see them as biased because the prevailing view is that they are likely to have been moderated by you. What prospective customers want most to read is independent, untouched feedback from people who have already shopped with you, and they want to read those reviews on 3rd party review sites such as Yelp, Trip Advisor and Google My Business.

Millions of people have used these sites to leave reviews, and it is critically important to keep a keen eye on mentions about your business online. This is because any negative talk can easily be seen by many individuals and destroy your business reputation, depending on where they are.

It’s worth keeping in mind why online reviews are so important for your business. According to Moz, 67% of consumers are influenced by online reviews. Furthermore a 2016 local customer review survey by Bright Local revealed some key points about the importance of online reviews. It found that:

  • 84% of consumers view customer online reviews in the same way as a personal recommendation
  • 7 out of 10 customers will leave a review if they are asked to.
  • 54% of people will visit a website after reading positive reviews.
  • 73% of customers think reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant.
  • 74% of customers say that positive reviews make them trust a business more.

This survey clearly demonstrates the importance of reviews for local businesses in particular, and why you need an effective reviews strategy in place.

There are many different ways you can collect feedback from your customers. For example, you can use customer comment cards specific questions that links on your website and sends customers to your profiles on customer review sites. You need to understand your customers in order to create a system that will make it easy for you to collect feedback and route your most positive reviews to the most influential sites for posting and negative feedback to your site to identify customer service issues.

So, how do you go about creating an effective reviews strategy?

Start With an Audit Of Your Current Reviews Process

The first thing you need to do is to analyze what you are currently doing to collect reviews for your business. Do you currently have an on-going plan, no matter how basic, for collecting reviews? How effective is it? Are they all of your reviews on your site or are they scattered across various review sites?

To find out all of the existing reviews about your business and the platforms they are currently on, use the following search operator:

[your brand name] + reviews search

Make a List Of The Most Important Review Sites

As an online business, you need to be everywhere your customers and prospects are online, especially review sites. This is why you need to make a list of the most influential review sites in your particular niche. To do this, do a search on Google for “your industry keyword” reviews. So if you’re in the autorepair business, you’ll type “autorepair reviews”. This search will reveal the most influential review sites in your niche at the top of the search results page. You can then make a list of the most influential sites in order of importance. These are sites that you should focus your reviews strategy on.

Collect Reviews On Your Own Site

In addition to review sites, you may also want to collect reviews on your own site if you’re not already doing so. Reviews provide powerful social proof anywhere they are, and displaying reviews on your site using schematic markup will act as a powerful customer acquisition tool for your business. You can also configure reviews from your site to show up on the search results page, which can help you stand out from your competitors on the search engines.

Decide what platforms to focus on

The platforms you need to focus on will depend on where your competitors and your customers are. If you find that your competitors are being reviewed on sites you’ve never heard of, you need to add those sites to your list because it means your customers are there. This is important because you need to make it as easy as possible for your customers to review you. This is why you should have a strong presence on review sites that can potentially drive customers to your site.

Create a business profile on each review site

Once you have identified the sites you will be using to collect reviews, you need to create a professional profile on each site on your list. This will make it a lot easier for your customers to leave reviews for your business. Be sure to create a strong presence on these sites, including photos, videos and links to your social platforms.

Integrate reviews on your website

Displaying online customer reviews on your website from sites that matter most to consumers would be a very smart move. This will help to reassure your customers and save them from having to click through to those sites to read the reviews. Some 3rd party review sites allow you to display a widget for displaying reviews on your site.

Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews

It is critically important to have a way of encouraging all of your customers to leave reviews about your business. Here are a few tips to help put your process in place:

  • Make your customer aware how important reviews are to you right from the beginning of your relationship. When you make them aware of what reviews mean to you, they are more likely to leave a review for your business at the end of the transaction, especially if they are happy and satisfied with your service. Don’t be too pushy about this, but subtle mentions of the importance of reviews to your business will have a strong effect.
  • Be sure to ask for a review at the end of the transaction. According to the 2016 survey by Bright Local 7 out of 10 customers are happy to leave a review when asked to do so.
  • Decide how you’re going to collect reviews on an ongoing basis, and follow through on this because it is essential for local businesses.
  • Give customers a choice of platforms to add a review. Don’t ask the customer to add a review on more than one platform though, because if you give them too many choices, they may simply avoid leaving a review altogether. Direct some of your customers to leave a review on your site. You can direct others to other review sites by sending a link to your profile on such sites.

It is important to make the process of leaving customer feedback as simple as possible for customers of all ages, depending of course, on what type of business you run. This will encourage more customers to leave reviews so that you can identify specific areas of your business where you need to improve.

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