Research suggests that 66.7 percent of people consult online reviews before making a major purchase. We’re not just talking about millennials here, either.
In fact, as the chart to the right shows, 62 percent of people age 35-54 and 61 percent of people age 55+ at least “occasionally” read online reviews when trying to find out more about a local business.
That’s a pretty large majority.
Because of this, you need to understand how to gather online reviews and ensure they’re easily available. In this article, we’ll take a look at what you can do to encourage online reviews. By the end, you’ll know more than enough to ensure you’re seen online in a positive light.
Step 1: Make it easy
If you’re an offline business, it’s worth setting up an account with Google Business. By doing so, you’ll ensure your business can be reviewed simply by searching for it within Google.
There are third-party review sites like Yelp you might want to look at, too. You can set up an account with Yelp by visiting their page dedicated to business owners. Another good idea is to consult a web developer to set up a review system on your site, similar to what Amazon provides.
Step 2: Ask for the review
Not everyone will automatically leave a review after engaging with your business. The most effective way to get them onboard is to simply ask them after a sale. The easiest way to do this is to immediately send an email, post-purchase.
How do you get their email address? One way is to give them an incentive of some kind. A free white paper. A coupon. Or a chance to get future offers. Then you can ask for a review when you send out your first email. Marks & Spencer, a store in the UK, boosted online reviews by 400 percent using a strategy similar to the one just mentioned.
It’s important, however, that you don’t provide incentives for positive reviews. This is against the terms of service for many online review sites, including Google and Yelp.
If you’re a service business, and you have customers you’ve been dealing with for more than six months, creating a video case study is an even better idea.
The amount of trust in a review increases substantially when an existing customer says good things about your company on video. And a lot more can be communicated via video, compared to a text-based review of a couple of sentences.
If you need some inspiration, check out the case studies section of Hubspot.
Step 3: Have a negative-reviews strategy
Eliminating negative reviews is nearly impossible, and you shouldn’t want to. When consumers see both positive and negative reviews together, 68 percent trust positive reviews more. You should, however, still take action when you see a negative review.
Here’s how: Your first action point is to simply leave a response notifying the reviewer that you’re acting in response to comments made. The second is to provide some kind of offer for the person who left the negative review. A discount maybe, for their next visit. In doing so, you’ll show potential customers reading the review that you take feedback seriously and customer service is a priority.
Step 4: Leave reviews where people can see them
You may want to obtain express permission that you can take reviews and use them elsewhere on your site. Strategically placed reviews can impact how people perceive certain web pages.
For instance, reviews displayed on your homepage tend to increase trust. And reviews placed on a checkout page may encourage people during the last step of the buyer’s journey. One company managed to boost conversions by 34 percent simply by placing a review on the homepage.
Step 5: Reap the benefits
Research by Harvard Business School found that an extra star on a restaurant’s Yelp profile could boost revenue by 5 to 9 percent. This confirms what we’ve been saying all along: online reviews matter. Think of them as online versions of ‘word of mouth’ recommendations.
Using the above tips, you should now know how to improve your business’s performance using online reviews. Take action now, and there’s a good chance your bottom line will benefit.
Contact: Theresa Weber is senior vice president of Concept Group, an advertising agency in St. Paul specializing in business-to-business communications:
651-242-5613; email@example.com; www.conceptgroup.com.