What is review marketing?
Review marketing is a tactic that allows you as the business owner to take control of your online reviews. It builds your online reputation and uses social proof to drive more business.
What impact does it have on business?
As you can imagine, review marketing can be very impactful on the growth of a business, especially since many businesses live and die by referrals. Think about how many times you might have looked for online reviews before making a purchase decision. If you saw poor reviews, you would take that particular vendor out of consideration and conversely, a track record of 4 and 5-star reviews might sway your decision to work with a vendor that you initially didn’t think you wanted to purchase from.
However, reviews don’t just happen on their own. Many business owners assume that reviews will begin to accrue by themselves as a result of doing good business. Although that is possible, the reality is that consumers typically only go out of their way to post about their negative experiences. Even if customers make an effort to share their positive experiences on a public forum, it still doesn’t hold a candle to businesses that have larger review sample sizes, which is why the review marketing process is something that should be optimized for your business.
How do I optimize my review marketing?
The first step in optimizing your review marketing is to tactfully solicit more reviews. The sample size of your reviews says a lot about your offering. For example, a business that has a 4-star average and over 1,000 reviews is more trustworthy than a business that has a 5-star rating and only 10 reviews.
It’s usually in good taste to send an email to a client or customer after working with them, asking them to leave you a review on a given platform. Most of the time they are happy to oblige!
Be sure to make it easy for your customers to leave you a review. Direct people to the directory or forum that you want more reviews on by sending them a link in an email; just make sure it’s a relevant platform. For example, if you’re a charter school, you would want to have more reviews on a directory like Great Schools that focuses on that industry, and not on a directory like YellowPages.com, which does not have an education focus.
Keep in mind that reviews are siloed to the platforms where they exist, so even if you have a million reviews on Google My Business, that doesn’t transfer to Facebook users.
If you offer a product, it’s much easier to ask for reviews than for businesses that offer a service. Once you deliver the product, the customer will know almost immediately if they are happy with it or not. However, if you’re a service company, you wouldn’t want to ask for a review from a client that you just started working with, you’d want to wait and ask for a review from someone who has been benefiting from your service over the course of at least a few months. It shows that your service is genuinely useful to your customers.
It’s also important that the reviews people see are spread out over time. Experiences change as time passes, and seeing consistent reviews over the course of weeks, months, and even years can show that your business has always been reliable.
Having a presence on multiple platforms also increases SEO performance, because you’re creating referral traffic, and the name of your business is being indexed by search engines in multiple places. So, when you’re asking clients or customers for reviews, give them a few options as to where they should leave a review.
It’s also common practice to offer an incentive for your customers to leave you a review, such as a $5 gift card to Starbucks, or a free company t-shirt. Remember that you’re not trying to bribe people into leaving a positive review since you won’t tell them what to write. Be fully prepared for them to be brutally honest.
What happens with bad reviews?
In a review marketing campaign, poor reviews can be redirected to the business owner instead of being posted. This gives the business owner an opportunity to ask what the customer was unhappy with, and it also spares them the blemish on their track record of online reviews.
Let’s say that you’re not running a review marketing campaign, so those less desirable reviews are not redirected to your email, and instead, are posted for the world to see. It’s not the end of the world! This shows people that you are a real business. Sometimes seeing nothing but 5-star reviews from a company can make consumers skeptical towards the validity of the business, and as long as your average rating is above 3 1/2 stars you have nothing to worry about.
Having a bad review posted also opens up another opportunity for you to show everyone how your business treats its customers. Reply to the bad reviews, ask about specific pain points, and try your best to make things right. This not only helps the one customer that had a poor experience, but it also shows others that you really do care about your customers. Be sure to reply to the good reviews too, even if it’s a simple ‘thank you.’ These small interactions can go a long way toward building lasting relationships.
What if I don’t have time to do all this?
If you have determined that you need a review marketing campaign, but are feeling overwhelmed with setting it up and managing it or perhaps just don’t have the time, our experienced team is here to help.