Due to the advancements of Internet technologies and social media, there is a lot more to maintaining your online reputation today than throwing up a professional looking website and praying for traffic. If you weren’t aware of this already, the website is only the beginning. You are also going to need to drive traffic to that website if you have any hope of making sales or boosting conversions. Whether you intend to rank for keywords or buy traffic for your site, there is one mistake that many businesses make that negatively affects their sales volume. Even if your product, service, or brand is fairly well established already, you could still be losing revenue. So what is this secret sauce that’s so important to your digital marketing efforts?
I’ve got one word for you: reviews.
Negative Business Reviews
As we all know, reviews typically come in one of two categories: positive or negative. More and more websites are adding commenting and messaging options to their content pages in an effort to engage their audience, decrease bounce rates, and grow their following. There is just one problem: some people abuse these commenting options and use them as a way to trash talk products they were unsatisfied with. Fortunately, if a negative review is on-site, you have complete control over that message. But just know that there are countless other forums and platforms that exist to host reviews for your site.
Don’t believe me? Just think how many people have crushed local eateries’ business by leaving a bad review on Yelp! Though as an online business you may not have a brick-and-mortar location, there is one thing you can do to stymy bad reviews. It all begins on your site, and you need to make testimonials and good reviews easily seen and readily available for your visitors. By reading honest and positive reviews, people will be more inclined to try your product or service, they will better understand what they are getting for their money, and they will be less likely to leave bad reviews because their expectations will be accurate and reasonable. You've probably heard this referred to as 'social proof' and yes, it works.
I should also point out - having bad reviews is not always seen as a bad thing. Having excessive bad reviews is. But just the fact that you're getting a myriad of opinions and reviews reflects back on your business as a good thing.
Don't Fake It 'Til You Make It
One tip, though: don't fake testimonials. People (and now computers) can sniff them out a mile away. They can detect simple nuances and changes in how text is written, and you'll end up worse off then had you just went out and culled real reviews in the first place.
Positive Business Reviews
Positive reviews will have a powerful effect on the visitors to your site. They help to make your site look less like a business that’s out to get people’s money and make it more personable. People place a lot of trust in others’ reviews because the people that post good reviews don’t have a financial stake in the success of your online business. In short, they view the reviewers as their peers who have the same problems.
This is one reason why testimonials help sell products. If you are just getting ready to redesign your website or launch a website from scratch, testimonials will speed things up a lot. Not only will they help entice visitors to take action and make a purchase, but they also bolster your credibility. Without testimonials, a new visitor to your site may have qualms about the legitimacy and effectiveness of your product or service. To them it’s unproven and untested. Though many people may still purchase your product or service, the customers that are on the fence may not view your offering as a good investment for their money and instead see it as a crapshoot. The customers that are on the fence about your offerings could easily be swayed with positive reviews and testimonials, but without them you are missing out on significant amounts of sales.
How Do I Get More Good Reviews?
The good news is that you don’t have to worry and fret about people leaving more negative reviews than good ones. There are some specific things you can do to increase the likelihood that users will leave a good review to bolster the credibility of your product.
First and foremost, remember the old adage, “Ask not and receive not.” One specific action you can take is to contact people who have used your product, send them a personalized message, and ask them to leave a review. Some people prefer to send emails, but I have even heard of people sending short personalized video messages to increase the chance that someone will leave a message. The only drawback is that this does take a fair amount of time, but nothing good in life comes easy.
However, know that you have to put some effort into this. Don’t simply send someone a message that reads,
“Hello Customer, would you please leave me a good review?”
Using the word “good” or “positive” is going to make your credibility plummet. These words might suggest that you are trying to coerce them into writing a review that isn’t honest.
This is a huge mistake.
Instead, you can say something along the lines of, “If you saw value in this product and it helped you, could you write an honest review.” By doing this, you may actually get a few reviews that are negative, but think of the value that brings. You’re basically opening a dialogue with your audience so they can tell you what they didn’t like about your product or service. Then, it is your job to make improvements based on the pain points.
You should also know that whether the review was positive or negative, you should always respond. If a user raves about your product, express gratitude and communicate that it makes you happy to solve their problems. On the other hand, if a user leaves a negative review you can choose to tell them how you will improve your product to better fit their needs (if applicable). Just be careful not to berate them in any way, as this could backfire easily. Consider running your reply on a bad review through a trusted friend or business coach first.
Build a Business Reviews Page
We don't typically wait around for reviews to happen - we take a much more proactive approach with our clients. For instance, several of our clients have built 'Review Us' pages on their sites. These pages have linked logos to at least 4 different review sites (Yelp, Google Plus, Houzz, Yahoo! Local, CitySearch, etc), and then they send out some sort of reminder asking their customers to visit that page after a certain time has passed. This could be a physical mailer (postcard) or an email which isn't quite as personal.
The reason for the multitude of logos is twofold: the customer will click on the one that they're most comfortable with or familiar with, and the reviews will be more naturally spread across these various sites. Having ten reviews show up all on one system is an immediate red flag to the search engines.
Automate the Ask
For some clients, especially those using an ecommere platform, we utilize services like Zapier or IFTTT to keep track of each customer and what they have purchased in the past. Then, in addition to asking for a review, we send them 6 month and 1 year 'purchase anniversary' emails to get them back to the site for another purchase. This starts the review cycle over again.
For the automation portion, we interface their ecommerce platform with our favorite email response service Active Campaign. Each customer is tagged, usually with the category or SKU of the product they purchased, so that we can customize the followup messages to match their past actions.
Don't Buy Reviews
It's quite tempting to purchase good reviews from networks like Fiverr. In fact, one guy created a fake company, bought reviews, and got away with it for a short while.
Long term, though, this is a bad idea. It can come back and hurt your business; so don't do it.
Lastly, it's also important that you don't bribe people for reviews, either. And incentivizing people to leave a positive review in exchange for dinner at Applebee's is the same as bribing them. This is typically a violation of most Terms of Service agreements, and will get your kicked from those sites quickly.
You can make the best product on the planet, but if you neglect to monitor your reviews, people may still be dissuaded from making a purchase. Just remember to actively respond to people to make your business more personable and attentive to the customers’ needs.