Online Review Strategy for 2018
It’s 2018. What’s your online review strategy?
Smart businesses have used customer reviews to super-charge their marketing efforts for years. Customers always like to hear from other customers before they make a purchase decision. Let’s be honest; customers trust your past customers more than they trust you.
They same is true with online reviews. People trust online reviews today as much as they trust recommendations from friends and family. That means they trust online reviews more than anything you can say to them. That’s powerful.
Here’s a list of tips that will help you harness the power of online reviews or give you ideas to tweak your existing online review strategy.
Wait. You don’t have online review strategy yet? Yikes, you better get one now!
Welcome to the club! The reality is there are more businesses without an online review strategy, than there are with one. It’s this fact, that should really excite you about getting an online review strategy. You still have time!
Since most businesses have not yet created an online review strategy, you will easily outshine them. For example, let’s say part of your online review strategy is to automate your online review solicitation. In doing this, you will easily end up with a higher online review count (and ratings) than a similar sized organization that doesn’t ever ask. That makes a difference with customers.
That’s why you need an online review strategy. You use the head start to put yourself so far ahead, you’ll never be caught.
Start by looking at your current online reviews
If you want a strong online review strategy, you should start with a quick assessment of your current ratings and review profiles. You can do this by heading over to the online review websites that are popular with your customers.
I recommend recording in an excel spreadsheet your aggregate score, and the number of total reviews, for each website. It’s always good to have a benchmark. Even if you don’t like it.
Next, give your profiles the eye test. Do you like what you see? How do you compare to your competitors? Anything missing, incomplete, or off? It makes sense to do this as one of your customers would.
You should now have a pretty good idea of where you’re starting. You can probably even see exactly where the problems lie (if any), and what the opportunities are. That’s very, um, very strategic, of you 😉
Where are your target customers looking?
Okay, now it’s time to get a little more strategic. You have data. You understand the realities of your online reviews. Now it’s time to figure out how to maximize your online review strategy to reach the most customers.
This starts with looking great where customers like yours are going. You probably noticed some of profiles had more ratings and reviews than others. If you’ve never driven customers to these websites, these are the websites that are likely to popular with your type of customers. That makes these websites the best place for you to look your best, and monitor what’s being said about you.
You may have also hear customers consistently mention a particular website, that’s an even better place to start. If you’re a new business, or don’t have much of an online presence, your best bet is to start Facebook, and Google. They’re the two most popular starting points for online discovery.
Have you gotten your Google boost yet?
One quick note on your Google presence. The reason you will see many suggesting Google be a big part of your online review strategy is that it’s the biggest game in internet town. More of your customers go here than anywhere else online. Even those that know you are likely get to your website via a Google search for it…and along the way see a whole lot about you.
Today, Google shows online reviews for businesses very prominently. Studies have shown that having a high volume of positive reviews on your Google profile leads to better search rankings. It also has shown to make your listings more enticing to click. All of which make Google a critical part of your online strategy.
Who is going to be in charge on your online reviews?
Okay, enough skipping ahead to advanced strategies. Let’s get back to the basics of a sound online review strategy. That means figuring out who at your organization is going to be responsible for online reviews.
If your organization is like most, there’s a lot going on daily. That means unless someone is tasked with executing on something, it probably won’t get done. Putting someone in charge of the online review strategy will ensure it gets executed upon.
The primary targets for this role include a key executive, a marketing leader, or whomever is managing your social media. Note that being responsible for online reviews and your online review strategy doesn’t mean the person has to do all of the work. Getting the entire company involved in your online review efforts is the best way to ensure your success!
But unless one person is responsible for the numbers, and strategy execution, that will never happen. Time to figure out who will lead the charge. Hint, look for volunteers!
How are you asking for online reviews?
When it comes to having a great online review strategy, you need to be clear on how exactly you are going to ask your customers for online reviews. There are really two different ways to do this.
The first is the new, modern, way. This involves using automated review management software that send email and text message review solicitations. The second is the good old fashion way – ask in person or through in-office signage.
What’s the best strategy for you? It depends on your budget and comfort level with online reviews. In general, we recommend that you automate your online review solicitation to ensure you’re consistently gettings new ones. We’ve found that quite often, you or your staff forget to ask. Further, in-office signage is easy to ignore.
That said, the choice of strategies is up to you. There’s plenty of organizations with great online presences who simply ask for customer reviews face-to-face when warranted. But there’s probably more who would benefit from using online review software, and automating the ask.
Monitor your online review profiles to keep a pulse on your brand
On the other end of online review strategy is online review monitoring. Monitoring, just like solicitation, can be done automatically using online review management software or the old fashion way, by logging into each individual website on a consistent basis.
Given how busy every professional is during the day, it makes sense to empower the person in charge of online reviews with a tool that will help them monitor all review profiles from a central dashboard. Logging into multiple website is inefficient and time consuming. It’s also the type of thing that staff HATES doing consistently.
The ultimate decision is yours, but with most online review solutions costing $100 or less per month, you can easily see cost savings in the time spent to get a complete picture alone.
Put those online reviews on display
With the basics of an online review strategy in place, it’s now time for the fun stuff. You’ve worked hard to provide a great product or service and solicit a great new. Now it’s time to put them on display for the world to see.
This means placing your online reviews on your website, company collateral, and even on your office walls. Remember, online reviews are the most authentic marketing messages you have. Customers expect businesses to have proof of their excellence, and online reviews are a great way to showcase just how awesome you are.
These are not the only way you can put your online reviews on display. You can also use them in your social media efforts and in your advertising campaigns, as you’ll see below.
Promote them in your ads
The final piece of your online review strategy should include using them throughout your online and offline advertising campaigns. From simple social media posts featuring your top reviews to videos with customers who have left you a positive review, there’s no end to how you can integrate your online reviews into your advertising campaigns. There are even organizations that have used negative online reviews in their campaigns.
Whether you’re running newspaper, radio, search, or TV advertising campaigns, there’s no reason you can’t include your online reviews. It’s final piece of your strategy, but it may be the importance. After all, if you generate lots of online reviews, but no one see them, it doesn’t really matter, does it?
Need help with your online review strategy?
We know developing an online review strategy often sounds easy, but is difficult in practice. At RepCheckup, we helped dozens of different organizations craft an effective online review strategy that benefits their top and bottom lines. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help – we’d love to show you how to build your own winning online review strategy!