Ever seen that Black Mirror episode where every person is rated by interactions with their peers and their overall “rating” determines their lot in life? We’re not there yet as a society, thankfully.
But as a business owner, you’re not that far off.
Preview: It’s not all doom, gloom and creepy smiles. You have control over your online reviews more than you think.
“Don’t take our word for it…”
The first thing you need to know about customer’s online reviews is that they’re very powerful because they’re not you, shaping how you want your company to be perceived. Yes, you should still influence your image through your marketing campaigns to make plain why you’re the best at what you do and how you’re different from your competitors, but independent online reviews are viewed as much more credible to prospective customers and can augment the marketing efforts. It’s called “social proof” and it’s here to stay.
Every extra star represents 5-9% more business
There is actual value to those stars on sites like Yelp, Facebook, Google+ and many others, in case you’ve ever wondered. And though it may feel like a battle for each one as you try to manage a (hopefully) steady stream of incoming reviews, it is a battle worth fighting. Why? Because you could see a bottom-line boost of 5-9% from each star you see added.
and while it’s important to keep your star rating high…
…The “Greasy pizza” review could actually be good for business
As much as we humans crave quality, we inherently distrust things that appear too perfect. It plants seeds of doubt: “Do they pay for their reviews?” “Is their large extended family responsible for that five-star rating?” In short, if you own a pizza shop, let there be occasional grease. Some foodie somewhere is always going to complain, and as long as it’s a one or two-off, think of it as your dimples of credibility and make sure to address and overcome any negative feedback and move right along.
It’s how people find your business online
As a smart business owner you’ve probably looked into SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and how key it is to your business — whether your customers are buying your products or services online or off. Review sites are what’s getting your business to pop up when someone searches for your products/services on Google, Bing, etc…
Advanced tip: You can even look into microformatting your reviews for above-the-fold indexing.
More about Google’s rich answers here.
So how do you get more online reviews?
By now you know that reviews are very important for your business. So how do you get them? There are several different ways to get reviews, but the key is to be always willing to ask your customers for them outright. Passive reviews may come in, but you will have more control over the kind of reviews you get if you ask the right customers, at the right time. You could send out an email to a select list of loyal customers, you can also have your staff hand out a postcard to customers who’ve clearly had a positive experience. And no, it isn’t cheating to offer a small incentive. Think of cost-effective ways to encourage your customers to follow through and post online reviews.
Remember, when they do, the reviews will pay for themselves.