Building a Reputation Management Strategy for 2017
An updated version of the 2015 article published by Inc.com
Have you ever caught yourself saying “I get clients and/or customers from word of mouth and referrals”. If you are currently getting most of your clients this way, be prepared to enter one of the biggest shifts in your business. With the power of online reviews, we are entering an age where more and more people are relying less on friends and family, but rather reviews posted on a business. Make sure you read to the end to see the best tool for building your reputation management strategy in 2017.
Think about the last time you went to a restaurant, did you check online reviews? You probably did.
And if you do not believe what I am saying, let me tell you this.
Search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo! are factoring in your review grade when deciding to rank you on their search page. Consider the following example:I have searched “Restaurants in Toronto” and the only 3 restaurants that pop up in the maps section of Google all have reviews. You will rarely see businesses that have no reviews posted higher than businesses with reviews.
Now that you know why reviews are important, I will teach you the best practices in getting reviews for 2017 as well as preventing negative reviews. I will feature practical tips that you can use today in your business that will drive results.
- Encourage customers to leave reviews
Feedback can be a very valuable asset to your business. Ask your customers, clients, or patients for it. Once they provide you with it, kindly ask them if they would be able to post it online. When you are asking them to post it online, ensure you are giving them a direct instruction, for example, “well thank you, that is flattering. Would you mind doing our clinic a favour and posting that review to our Google page? Its simple, just search [business name] on Google and on the right side you will see a “Leave Review” button.” Just by doing this, you will start to see more reviews built in the first day.
- Make it a contest
A local chiropractic clinic has had major success with reviews by giving away prizes. Please note: It is not allowed to bribe or give a person something in exchange for a review. However, you are allowed to run a contest and invite them to leave a review as part of the contest.
Here is an example of a contest that we set for one of our clients:
[Business Name] is running a contest for a 2-night stay in Niagara with a musical and dinner for two. To enter, please do 2 of the following:
- Post a picture of your work out on Instagram and tag us
- Leave us a review on our Google+ Page about your last experience here
- Like our Facebook Page and comment on 2 pictures
Through this, they have gathered 8 videos, 16 Google+ Reviews, and 12 Facebook Page likes within 10 days of posting the contest. They then picked a winner at random and it generated tons of interest in their brand by the community.
It is said that a 1-star increase in online rating can lead to a 5-9% increase in revenue. So remember, even though you may be spending to get the contest running, it will have a positive ROI. Besides, 87% of consumers won’t even consider a business with a low rating. It is clear that a reputation management strategy is important to your business if you would like to increase your revenue by 5-9% this year.
85% of consumers claim to read online customer reviews for local businesses.
65% of consumers prefer brands that have a plurality of good online reviews.
79% of consumers consider online reviews to be equally as trustworthy as personal recommendations
71% of consumers say positive reviews increase their trust of a business
This research was conducted in January 2015 and we can say with certainty that all of these numbers have increased in the two years that have past.
- Be Alert
Listening to customers in the office can be a huge benefit to your business. Often times you can hear them complain or see that they are not happy. Make sure to resolve the situation right there and don’t allow them to go home and leave the review.
You may not think that the person will go home and leave a review, but there are people who will, in fact, an increasing amount of people who will. Yelp has a group of members who are “loyal reviewers”, and if you engage with one of them, your business will be getting a review 100%, whether it be good or bad.
- Respond quickly
Bad reviews are not completely bad. It is not worth crying over, unless all you are getting is bad reviews, but in that case, you should shut down your business or reevaluate your ethics. However, a couple negative reviews here and there are not a bad thing. Just make sure to respond and resolve the situation. A 5-star score in a company with over 40 reviews can be a little skeptical to a consumer. A negative review would only bring it down to a 4.7-4.9 range depending on the amount you are getting.
- Enhance and promote your online reviews
Have your social media manager create a template for 5-star review posts.
We have created a template for our clients where we can copy and paste the review, put the name of the reviewer, and add some branding in minutes. We then post every review the business receives on their social media profiles. If you are interested in getting a review template created with your business, don’t hesitate to ask us.
- Reach out to negative reviewers
This is a controversial topic in the reputation management sphere but we believe it is okay to reach out directly to negative reviewers if you have honestly made a mistake and it doesn’t happen often.
The reason why this is effective is because in Google you can click “edit” review and change it. Below is the exact email template that we use to email our client’s negative reviewers.
[Business Name] wanted to thank you for visiting us [date they came].
I understand that your visit did not go as expected. [explain what happened]. We are very sorry and as you know, everyone has bad days. You see, negative reviews really hurt our business and I’m sure you know, since you’ve been here [how many times they came] that it has never happened.
I am not asking for you to change your review to a 5-star review, but I am asking for you to either reconsider the [star rating, content or take it down]. If you have any questions please dont hesitate to call our office.
If you use this template or a similar template, remember it is illegal to provide them with any type of bribe to change there review. It is okay however to ask them to reconsider it.
Perhaps the most effective way to capture 5-star reviews is using tools like Podium. Podium is an industry-leading online review management platform that has partnered with large companies such as Yelp and search engines that you use. Podium helps you collect online reviews and organize your feedback in one central platform.
Podium is a great tool because it only captures 4-5 star reviews, and doesn’t allow customers to post 3 or less star ratings. Follow the screenshots below:
This is the Podium dashboard. It allows you to see all the people who have reviewed. It also gives you motivation to send more and gives you measurable goals and analytics behind your reviews.
But, that is not why Podium is so powerful.
Here is why:
The picture below illustrates the method of Podium. The receptionist at your desk, or you, the business owner, clicks “send review invite” in the Podium dashboard, from there, you can email or text the customer a review invite. In step 1 below, you will see the text that the customer will get. Customers do not want to leave reviews in your business because they feel awkward, and the text eliminates this.
From there, you will see “would you recommend our company?”. If the customer selects “Yes”, it sends them to review your website on Google/Facebook/YellowPages and other directories. In the middle of step 2 and 3, you see a dotted line, and that separates the negative reviews. If the customer clicks “no thanks”, then the customer will be redirected a private feedback form that will not go to any online review platform. This tool is extremely powerful because you are minimizing the possibility of bad reviews going online and you get first hand knowledge of what you need to fix in your business.
The timing of the texts and the conversations you will have with your customer will be the determinant in whether or not the customer will leave a review. Being certified partners and resellers of Podium, not only are we able to offer you better discounts and rates than Podium itself, but we can share with you how to get the best conversion rate on your texts to customers.
Our most successful client with Podium was able to achieve 43 5-star positive reviews within a 2 week time frame. That’s 3 reviews a day!
As you can see, Podium can be a key component if you are trying to build your reputation management strategy in 2017. If you are interested in Podium, we are going to be hosting a webinar on best practices for reviews, the do’s and dont’s that your business can start implementing today! We also have a special bonus at the end, so be sure to sign up and get access to it.
Sign up for the “Build a Reputation Management Strategy in 2017” Webinar below!