It’s no longer just restaurant owners and those in the travel business who have to worry about online reviews. Sure, those particular market segments have thrown up the most headline fodder over the years but online customer reviews are a topic every business owner should have on their radar.

Why is this something you should be looking at? Let’s start with potential customers. Research from Zendesk indicates that 88% of people have been influenced by a negative online review when making a purchasing decision.

Next think about your own behaviour. If you’re browsing Amazon, and still on the fence about a particular purchase, how many times have you had – at the very least – a quick browse of what other people think? I’m guessing it’s much more than just a few.

Consumers across the board are increasingly savvy and willing to do their own research about a product or service, rather than just blindly handing over their hard-earned dollars. Customer reviews are one of the leading data sources they consult.

There’s no shortage of services out there either. Yelp led the charge back in the day and Amazon have of course put reviews at the heart of the online retail experience across every product category imaginable.

Still not convinced? Here are just two sobering statistics from a recent Econsultancy article on the subject:

  • 63% of customers are more like to buy from a site with user reviews.
  • Customer reviews are twelve times as trustworthy as manufacturer descriptions.

Add in the slew of third-party services such as Trustpilot – or Australia’s own Product Review and Word of Mouth Online – which have sprung up over time and there’s a reasonable chance somebody somewhere is looking at a review of your business as we speak.

Online heavyweights such as Google and Facebook are also constantly threatening to beef up their own initial forays into the field. Put it all together and it’s a pretty safe bet that reviews are only going to become more important over the coming years for businesses of all types.

With all these points in mind, here are four quick tips to help you start taking more control of your wider online presence when it comes to reviews.

  1. Make it Someone’s Job

Managing and responding to reviews is not something to be left to the interns. You need to give somebody in your organisation actual ownership of this as a topic and start putting real systems, analytics and objectives in place.

  1. Know Your Niche and Be Present

Different businesses have different review sites that really dominate so it’s important you do your basic research and find out what’s driving customer action when it comes to your niche. Bear in mind that third-party sites like Trustpilot can potentially be used to provide reviews of any site.

Once you’ve got the sites appropriate to your business lined up, make sure you’re doing everything you can on them to present your business in as positive a light as possible.

If the site has monitoring or notification tools available, use them. If a resolution system is in place that you can use to mitigate less than stellar reviews, make sure you know exactly how best to profit from it.

  1. Ask for Reviews

Nine times out of ten, wild horses won’t stop someone with their heart set on leaving a negative review. People being people, many of the less than positive comments you see in the wild are somewhat off the mark. You’ll have to learn how to deal with unjustified critical commentary gracefully as you go along.

When it comes to garnering positive reviews however, people often need a push. Make sure you’re following a golden rule you should have already learned from Sales 101 and actually ask for reviews.

If you’re looking for a great example of naturally working this into other content, consider the Empire Flippers podcast’s regular “Five-star iTunes Reviews” segment where they work positive reviews into their show with a view to soliciting more and rising up the charts.

Remember, don’t ask – don’t get.

  1. Make it Easy for People

Finally, don’t make people jump through hoops to leave a review – offline or online.

The vast majority of website content management systems include review modules that can be easily enabled. Research the options appropriate for your own business and make sure they’re turned on.

Third-party review aggregators such as Yelp or Trustpilot also offer simple integrations you should be able to hook up with practically any site relatively easily.

At MediaSmiths, we’ve got decades of experience helping clients consistently present their businesses in the best light possible so we know exactly how important customer review management is.

If you’d like to talk to a team of experts about this, or any other aspect of promotion and taking control of your media strategy, we’re ready to take your business to the next level. Get in touch!

Angie Smith

About Angie Smith

Angela started the company in 2007 after working in various media including radio, Yellow Pages as well as on the advertising agency side. She has a passion for media planning across channels, strategy, development and negotiation and really loves working with clients in growing their businesses and brands. She has worked with many brands large and small including local, national and multi-nationals. Angie’s pastimes include travel, food, entertaining.