Make Local Business Ratings Work In Your Favor

According to BrightLocal’s comprehensive 2017 consumer review survey, 97% of consumers checked online for local business ratings in that year. More importantly, 85% of participants said they trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations from friends and family.

Editor’s Note/Update: Since publication, BrightLocal has updated the survey with their 2018 results. Per the update, we learn that 86% of consumers check online for local business reviews, including 95% of consumers age 18-34.  Of that same age group, 91% say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and the same holds true for 79% of 35-54 year olds.

This tells us that the things people say about you online do matter, and you should absolutely be aware of what’s being said. Which begs the question, where should you be checking?

Which Review Sites Matter?

In short, all of them. But the review sources that matter most are the ones that your audience will be checking, so let’s take a look at some of the usual suspects and talk about some other reasons why they should matter to you.

Google Reviews

Google reviews are particularly important because they appear any time someone searches your business name on Google – which is the place most people are going to check first. Additionally, Google factors your Google-ratings into its search algorithm, so if you have any interest in performing well on search engines, you’ll want to keep positive reviews flowing for your business.

Facebook Recommendations

Facebook ratings are now called ‘Recommendations’.  I’ll be covering Facebook recommendations in-depth in an upcoming post, but for now you should know that they’re powerful because they are shared with the author’s friends. If your reviews are positive, it’s like having someone personally recommend your business to everyone they know. Like I said, powerful stuff! Just make sure it’s working in your favor.

Industry-Specific Review Sites

It’s impossible to list them all here, but you will want to keep your finger on the pulse of your industry and learn which review sites are most important to your customers. For example: Zagat matters to restaurants and Angie’s List is important for contractors, but neither of those sites would apply to the other’s industry. If you need help pin-pointing the important review channels for your industry, Visipop can help!

Your Own Website

If you get reviews or testimonials via email, on a personal card or note in the mail, be sure to post it to your website and share it on your social media channels! You don’t want to miss out on free positive publicity, and the things people say or write to you directly are often the most powerful testimonials for your business.

Getting More Reviews

Sure, users will simply leave reviews if they feel compelled to do so… but unfortunately, most won’t – at least not automatically. You’ll have to make the reviews come, and that takes a strategy. Here are my three pillars of effective review cultivation:

  1. Ask“Make It Known”
    If you ask for your reviews, you are going to get them. You won’t always get them, but you will get way more than if you hadn’t asked. So make it known that you’d like some feedback.
  2. Facilitate“Make It Easy”
    Even the folks who really want to say something great about you won’t do it if it’s difficult or takes too much of their time. Convenience is key, so do what you can to make it easy.
  3. Respond“Make It Yours”
    If a review site allows for you to respond, then you absolutely must respond. In the right hands, even a bad review is an opportunity for you to shine, because you can make it yours.

So, how do you put it into practice? You could simply ask your customers for a review at the end of your service or transaction – but that can get awkward and puts people on the spot. In my experience, it’s much more effective to use some form of communication media to make the request on your behalf. This could be a feedback card, a follow-up email, or something else entirely. Any of the above methods could cover pillars #1 and #2 by asking for the review, and conveniently pointing them to the exact place to get it done. Making it known, and making it easy.

Proper Handling of Negative Reviews

Bad reviews will come. The most important thing is how you handle them. If your business is truly at fault, try to rectify things in a fair manner, and if you are confident about your resolution, doing it publicly can minimize or negate the damage of a bad review. If there is a misunderstanding, or the review is malicious and/or fraudulent – take a moment to consider your options.

Do NOT respond if you are upset or feeling any negative emotions – some of us may feel that we absolutely need to respond to an irate customer or a fraudulent post as soon as possible. An instant response is not required, and there is a small chance the author will think better of their review and delete it.

Take your time, work on a level-headed response or better yet: have it written on your behalf by someone with public-relations and professional writing skills. In the right hands, the worst review can be a glowing customer service case study, or a glorious demonstration of professionalism in the face of pettiness or outright maliciousness.

Visipop Can Help!

Visipop provides a complete review cultivation and response-management solution for your business. Lets make your clientele aware of your review channels and effectively motivate them to share their experiences and leave feedback for your business.

Additionally, we can explore a combination of strategies to target only the customers most likely to leave positive feedback – reducing your probabilities of receiving negative feedback. When the reviews come, Visipop can provide public-relations assistance with even your most difficult reviews – or handle all of them, taking the effort off your hands.

Are you ready to level up your ratings?

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