Fact: most, if not all, of your customers are online. They’re discussing their positive (and negative) brand experiences, and they’re trusting each other’s reviews.
90% of consumers say they trust recommendations by people they know, while 70% say they trust consumer opinions posted online.
Online reviews are important to consumers, which means they need to be important to you too.
According to the Local Consumer Review Survey (2012), 76% of consumers regularly or occasionally use online reviews to determine which local businesses to use, and most people look at between two and ten reviews to establish which business to use – which means one good review isn’t enough. Your good reviews need to be consistent, and they need to be numerous.
So, how do you get your customers online, raving about your great products and services?
Start with the basics
Before you can start generating reviews, you need a presence on external review sites and social media sites. Users generate content on review sites, blogs and social media, so if your customers are commenting on these sites anyway, don’t you think you should be steering these conversations, or at least ensuring that your brand is one of those being discussed?
Make sure you have a presence on these sites. Customers are more likely to review you if they see you, and the more reviews you have, the more you’ll dominate search engines.
Don’t be shy to ask people to give you reviews. Most consumers will appreciate the fact that you are asking their opinion. The trick is to respond quickly and positively to any negative reviews. This will manage any negative reviews, and even create promoters out of detractors if done properly.
If you are asking for reviews, you can also target the right audience. You can ask companies that have synergies with your own to ‘like’ you or link to you for example, and you can ask for reviews on your Facebook page from your followers. There are also a number of niche review sites that you can focus on, depending on your industry and consumers.
You should also ask for a case study from happy customers – you can share these on your website or through blogs, and encourage other customers to do the same.
Companies that get the most customer attention take advantage of every opportunity to engage their clients and generate reviews. Include links in email signatures and draw attention to all the places that someone can give you a review.
This will give customers the option to choose the social media platform they’re most familiar with, the review site they use most frequently, or simply submit a review via email.
Designated review spaces
External and internal review sites are equally important. Which review sites focus on your industry? For example, www.eatout.co.za and www.dining-out.co.za are restaurant review sites, while www.tripadvisor.com is a tourism review site.
Familiarise yourself with any industry portals that pertain to you and make sure that you are monitoring those sites. Hellopeter.com is another site that you should monitor daily. It is equally important to manage poor reviews as it is to highlight good reviews, so make sure you are keeping track of what your consumers are saying about you.
External sites are important, but your customers are visiting your website as well, making this a perfect place to expose them to customer reviews. Having reviews onsite means potential customers don’t need to leave your website to research your business – everything is right there.
You should also make it as simple as possible for customers to review you on your site, which creates constant and fresh content. The review landing page should be on your homepage though – don’t make customers search for it. You want to make this as simple as possible.
Following a purchase is the ideal time to ask a customer for a review – the experience is still fresh in their mind, and it gives you an additional touch point to create a loyal long-term customer.
You can call them or send them an email asking them share their experience, but give them the option to share their opinion publically or privately. You can even create a survey for more detailed feedback and share the results online.
Generating positive reviews
When getting positive reviews it is important to distinguish between aggressively soliciting customer reviews and gently encouraging them to write. Be aware that over enthusiastic or gushing reviews by customers can negatively impact on your business by damaging credibility. Tips for encouraging positive reviews can include:
- Offer incentives. But, again, proceed with caution as you don’t want to give the impression that you are compensating your customers for their endorsement. Avoid tactics that hint toward exchange.
- Easy does it. Make it easy for customers to rate and review your product or service using the sites suggested.
Online reputation management tools
Take advantage of these tools to check what is being said about your company online.
- Google Alerts.Works as a content change detection and notification service offered by Google. It automatically notifies users when content for news, web, blogs, forums or video sites change to match a set of search terms selected by the user. Notifications are sent via email or web feed.
- SocialMention. A social media and analysis platform that tracks and analyses user generated content from across the web allowing you to measure the response to your business or product.
- Technorati. An Internet search engine specifically for searching blogs. Technorati uses and contributes to open source software.
- Twitter Alerts. What are others tweeting about you, your product or company? Receive an email notification when keywords containing your brand, product or service are used.
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