Your customers decide whether they trust your business in only a few seconds from your web presence; however, it’s important to distinguish that your online presence extends beyond your website. In today’s internet culture, your web presence includes the online reviews you collect along the way as you build your digital reputation. Creating and maintaining a credible and positive reputation across a number of review sites is crucial for building your online brand, as well as winning over new customers.

This is not new. Business owners and entrepreneurs are familiar with the impact of online reviews, both good and bad. The world is becoming increasingly connected and it’s easier than ever for people to voice their opinion: anytime, anywhere, even when you’re not paying attention. The rapid pace of the internet is the exact reason why business owners need to have a proactive online review management strategy in place.

This article will explore the importance of online review management, as well as four core competencies of an excellent review management strategy.

Why is Online Review Management Important?

Online search – and as an extension, online reviews – have become an integral part of who we are as consumers. Your customers are sifting through the internet looking for information about your business and they’re doing it more often than you think. As Google points out, consumers are turning to search for everything from everyday household items to apartment listings, from the showtimes at movie theatres to reviews of family resorts. More importantly, they want information immediately. The fact is, the first few pieces of information a consumer reads about your business will determine whether they work with you, or choose one of your competitors.

A recent report from Small Business Trends reveals some eye-opening statistics about online reviews.

  • 86 percent of consumers are hesitant to purchase from a business who has negative online reviews.
  • 22 percent of consumers say they refuse to purchase from a business who has only one negative online review.
  • Negative reviews in Google Search results can cause your business to lose 70 percent of potential customers.
  • 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

While these statistics are alarming, creating an online review management strategy will help build and maintain a positive online reputation.

A New Era of Online Reviews

The platform consumers have to share their opinions is massive. Online review management must account for more than Google search; your business needs to be tracking reviews on social media platforms, blogs, forums, and review sites.

Social Media

Social media is a powerful platform for online reviews and you need to think beyond Facebook and Twitter. Customers can share their opinions on Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, FourSquare, LinkedIn, and the countless other social media channels that exist today. It’s easier than ever for customers to tell all their friends and family about the best customer service experience they’ve ever had, as well as the worst. On top of that, reviews on social media can go viral very quickly. Monitoring brand mentions on social media should be performed daily.

Blogs

The blogging world has exploded in the past several years. Today, there are entire blogging websites dedicated to writing reviews and many businesses will end up with profiles on these websites. Again, your business needs to be monitoring direct links to any of your online touchpoints that come from these blogs.

Forums

Similar to blogs, there are countless online forums and communities where people gather to discuss products and services, provide recommendations, and build review networks.

Review Sites

Review sites are what traditionally come to mind when people think of online reviews. Review sites are some of the most popular channels for people to share their opinions. These are sites like Yelp, Better Business Bureau, Yellow Pages, and more. While it’s important to monitor these websites, they’re not the only channels that should be on your radar.

Creating an Online Review Management Strategy

There is a lot to consider when it comes to planning your business’ online reputation, so how exactly do you manage online reviews? The answer is with strategic planning, competitive research, and a well-defined plan. Doing online review management properly involves diligently monitoring online reviews and responding to them. It also involves continually nurturing positive reviews and using SEO tactics to drive them to the top of Google search results. Above all, it requires analyzing the feedback your business receives and leveraging it to do business better.

Here are four core competencies of a high-quality online review management strategy:

It’s Proactive

Many businesses only think of online review management when they’re already facing a problem. This is not how you approach your online reputation. Instead, businesses need to build a foundation of credibility so if a customer does leave a negative review, it’s not going to dominate your brand’s search results.

It’s Consistent

It’s important to develop a consistent brand voice and tone for handling online reviews. Specifically, a tone that aligns with your business’ overall brand identity and messaging. Not only does this make handling reviews on a case-to-case basis easier, but it also builds trust with your customers.

Always Respond

Your response is key and undeniably necessary. Nothing feels worse than a bad review, but it’s actually a unique opportunity to showcase the way your business handles conflict. It’s important to respond quickly, appropriately, demonstrate you value their business, and take steps to resolve the situation. The same goes for positive reviews, but those responses are a little easier.

Learn From Your Reviews

Each review is a learning opportunity. Both positive and negative reviews help you gain more insight into how customers see your business and the ways you can grow to serve them better.

Final Word

Developing and implementing an online strategy takes time, and that’s time away from what you do best. Engage Truss Marketing to plan, implement, and manage your online reviews, making it easy for your clients & customers to give you 5-Star reviews that will soon outpace your competitors. Schedule an appointment to get started on an online review management strategy.