Embracing Online Reviews

Making Online Reviews Work For Your Business, Instead Of Against It

December 2014

Today, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as in-person recommendations. With the rise of Yelp and the constant buzz on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites, getting praised or slammed can have a significant impact on a local business.

So, how can business owners leverage online comments and reviews to improve their reputations and find new customers? Two social media experts and entrepreneurs—Neil Crist, CEO of Venuelabs, which owns AboutLocal, and Eric Doebele, CEO of Thursday Market, offer some suggestions.

What are the biggest challenges small businesses have when trying to manage their online reputations?

Neil Crist: Consumers are becoming very passive with how they relay poor experiences. More and more, they would rather complain indirectly to their friends on Instagram, Foursquare, or Facebook rather than call the manager or fill out a comment card. This makes it really hard for business owners to stay informed about what they are doing well, and not so well.

How can business owners encourage happy customers to post positive reviews?

Eric Doebele: Make it timely and make it easy for customers to post positive reviews.

The best time to ask happy customers for a review is right after the time of purchase. For most service businesses, this means at the completion of the project while it’s still top of mind and your relationship is fresh. Simply ask the client while you’re wrapping up the payment details, or build it into your thank-you and follow-up emails.

You can make it easy for a customer to provide a positive review by being specific about exactly where you’d like the customer to leave a review. In your follow-up emails, include links directly to your business’s profile or testimonial page with clear calls to action rather than just saying “Please review us.” Some businesses collect reviews on comment cards, and then email the review to the client to copy and paste into popular review sites.

The most important thing to remember when asking clients for reviews is that it’s about their relationships with you, your employees, and your business. When your clients feel good about those relationships, they will be proud to support you.

How can small businesses leverage these positive online reviews?

Eric Doebele: Online reviews can be an important component of local businesses’ digital marketing efforts. Here are a few tips:

  • Display testimonials on your website. Build reviews and testimonials into your website conversion path to build social proof, which is the number of fans, followers, and Likes your business, product, or service has on social media sites. This will increase your browser-to-customer conversion rate.

  • Add review badges. Social review websites like ours provide badges that can be added to your email signature, website, or blog where visitors can view verified endorsements, reviews, and Facebook Likes from their own friends and neighbors.

  • Share on social media. With your customers’ permission, share your testimonials on popular social media sites in the form of a “Thank you for the kind words” post.






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