At Swell, we understand the importance of online reviews. The shift from word-of-mouth referrals to online reviews has a real impact on your bottom line. Reputation management isn’t easy but it is crucial to growing your business. First, let’s look at the role that online reviews have during potential clients’ decision making process.
The Buyer’s Journey
The buyer’s journey consists of three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision-making. Each stage is critical in influencing a consumer’s purchasing decision, and we have developed effective strategies to ensure that your brand is present at every step of the way.
In the awareness stage, consumers are just beginning to realize they have a problem or a need. They may be browsing the internet or social media, scrolling through their newsfeed or looking at advertisements. This is where the importance of brand awareness comes into play. Online reviews can help build awareness and interest by highlighting the benefits of a product or service.
At the consideration stage, consumers have identified their problem or need and are now actively searching for a solution. They are looking at different options, comparing products and services, and trying to narrow down their choices. This is where we help our clients stand out from the competition.
In the decision-making stage, consumers have done their research and they are ready to make a purchase. At this stage, it’s essential to provide a seamless buying experience and remove any obstacles that may deter the consumer from making a purchase.
Social proof is a powerful psychological concept that plays a significant role in the decision-making stage of the buyer’s journey. It refers to the idea that people tend to follow the actions and opinions of others when they are uncertain about what to do or lack information.
Social proof can take many forms, including customer reviews, ratings, testimonials, social media likes, shares, and followers. When consumers see that others have used and enjoyed a product or service, they feel more confident in their decision and are more likely to make a purchase.
For example, if a consumer is considering purchasing a product online, they may look at customer reviews to see what others have said about the product. If the reviews are positive and the product has a high rating, the consumer is more likely to feel confident in their decision to purchase it. Similarly, if a consumer sees that a product has a significant following on social media or has been shared by others, they may view it as more trustworthy and of higher quality.
3 Ways Online Reviews Impact Your Business
Social proof is at the core of the decision stage because it provides consumers with the validation they need to make a confident purchasing decision. Online reviews can have a significant impact on reputation management, search engine optimization (SEO), and sales.
1. Reputation Management
Online reviews are one of the most important factors in shaping a business’s reputation. Consumers often look to reviews when deciding whether or not to do business with a company. Positive reviews can help build trust and establish credibility, while negative reviews can damage a business’s reputation and credibility.
Online reviews can have a significant impact on SEO because search engines such as Google take into account customer reviews when ranking websites in search results. Positive reviews can help boost a website’s ranking in search results, making it more visible to potential customers.
Additionally, online reviews can help businesses generate more organic traffic to their website. When consumers search for a product or service, they often read online reviews to get a better understanding of the product or service’s quality. If a business has positive reviews, consumers are more likely to click through to their website and potentially make a purchase.
Online reviews can also impact sales directly. Positive reviews can help build consumer trust in a business, leading to increased sales. According to a study by BrightLocal, 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 73% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a business more.
Negative reviews, on the other hand, can have a significant negative impact on sales. According to the same study, 60% of consumers have avoided a business because of negative reviews.
Ultimately, online reviews can help businesses identify areas for improvement in their products or services. By addressing negative reviews and making changes to improve customer satisfaction, businesses can increase the likelihood of positive reviews and ultimately drive more sales.
Google My Business
Setting up a business on Google is a great way to increase your online presence and reach potential customers. Here are the steps to follow to set up a business on Google:
Create a Google Account
If you don’t already have a Google account, create one by going to the Google sign-up page and filling out the required information.
Go to Google My Business
Once you have a Google account, go to Google My Business and click the “Manage Now” button.
Enter Your Business Information
You’ll be prompted to enter your business information, including your business name, address, phone number, website, category, and a brief description of your business.
Verify Your Business
Google will need to verify your business before it can appear on Google Maps and in search results. You can choose to have a postcard mailed to your business address with a verification code, or you can choose to verify your business by phone or email, depending on the options available.
Once your business is verified, add photos of your business, including your logo, interior and exterior photos, and photos of your products or services.
Promote Your Business
Use Google My Business to promote your business by adding posts, creating special offers, and tracking insights to see how customers are interacting with your business.
By following these steps, you can set up a business on Google and increase your online visibility, attract new customers, and grow your business.
Best Practices for Responding
When responding to online reviews, timing, confidentiality, and authenticity are all important factors to consider.
Responding to online reviews in a timely manner is crucial because it shows customers that you value their feedback and are committed to providing excellent customer service. A prompt response can also help prevent negative reviews from escalating into larger issues.
When responding to online reviews, it’s important to maintain customer confidentiality and avoid sharing personal information publicly. This not only protects the privacy of the customer but also shows that you respect their privacy and take their feedback seriously.
Authenticity is key when responding to online reviews because customers can quickly spot generic or automated responses. Personalized and authentic responses demonstrate that you are listening to your customers and genuinely care about their experience with your business.
Handling Negative Reviews
While positive reviews can boost your brand’s reputation, negative reviews can be disheartening and potentially damaging. However, negative feedback can also present an opportunity for growth and improvement. Here are 7 tips for responding to negative reviews.
1. Don’t Take It Personally
Receiving negative feedback can be emotionally challenging, but it’s crucial to approach it with a calm and objective mindset. Remember that not all criticism is a reflection of your entire business or product. Instead, view it as an opportunity to learn and make necessary adjustments.
2. Respond Professionally
Ignoring negative reviews can create the impression that you don’t value customer feedback. Responding promptly and professionally demonstrates your commitment to addressing concerns. Keep your tone polite, empathetic, and solution-oriented. Avoid being defensive or engaging in arguments, as it can further escalate the situation.
3. Investigate the Issue
Before responding, thoroughly investigate the customer’s concern to gather all relevant information. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand their perspective. This will allow you to provide a more informed and empathetic response.
4. Take Ownership
Offer a sincere apology for any negative experience the customer had. Taking ownership shows that you value their feedback and are committed to making improvements. Acknowledge their frustration and assure them that you are actively working to address the issue.
5. Provide a Solution
Offer a practical and personalized solution to the customer’s problem. Depending on the nature of the issue, this could involve a refund, replacement, or an opportunity to rectify the situation. By resolving the problem promptly and effectively, you have the chance to turn an unhappy customer into a loyal advocate.
6. Take the Conversation Offline
While it’s important to respond publicly to show your commitment to customer service, encourage the customer to continue the conversation privately. Provide them with a contact email or phone number where they can discuss their concerns in more detail. This demonstrates your willingness to address the issue without further public scrutiny.
7. Learn from the Feedback
Negative reviews can provide valuable insights into areas of improvement. Use them as a learning opportunity to enhance your products, services, or customer experience. Consider implementing processes or training to prevent similar issues in the future. Show your customers that their feedback has a direct impact on your business.
By responding to reviews in a timely manner, protecting customer privacy, and providing personalized and authentic responses, businesses can build trust with customers and show that they value their feedback.
Proactively Encouraging Positive Reviews
Encouraging customers to leave reviews can help generate positive conversations about your business. Businesses can proactively encourage positive conversations with these 5 tips.
Set Expectations Early
When a customer first interacts with your business, it’s important to communicate clearly about your commitment to customer satisfaction and your desire for feedback. This can be done through signage, your website, or in-person conversations.
Provide Exceptional Service
The best way to encourage positive conversations about your business is to provide excellent customer service. When customers have a positive experience, they are more likely to share their experience with others.
Explain the Importance of Reviews
When asking for a review, it’s important to explain the importance of reviews to your business. Let customers know that reviews help you improve your business and provide valuable feedback to potential customers.
Ask for Feedback
Once you’ve provided exceptional service, it’s appropriate to ask for feedback. This can be done in-person, through an email or text message follow-up, or by including a request for a review on your receipt. Make it easy for customers to leave a review by providing clear instructions and links to review sites. Consider including links to review sites in your follow-up emails or on your website.
Spread Reviews Out Over Time
Businesses should avoid getting too many sudden good reviews by spreading them out over time. Rather than asking all customers to leave a review at once, businesses should encourage reviews over a longer period of time.
Businesses can proactively encourage positive conversations by providing excellent customer service, engaging with customers, creating shareable content, encouraging customer reviews, and hosting events and contests. By focusing on building positive relationships with customers, businesses can generate more positive conversations and increase brand awareness.
In 2022, AWKO was struggling with negative reviews on their Google My Business page. Despite having a strong reputation in their local community and the legal industry, their online reputation was negatively impacting their ability to attract new clients. The law firm approached Swell for help improving their online reputation. With an average rating of 3.5 stars on Google My Business, many negative reviews cited poor communication and slow response times.
Swell developed a strategy to improve the law firm’s online reputation by implementing the following steps.
Engaged with Clients
The law firm was encouraged to engage with clients on social media and other platforms. They responded to comments and reviews, and acknowledged client feedback.
The ad agency monitored the law firm’s reviews on Google My Business and responded promptly to any negative reviews. They worked with the law firm to address any issues and resolve them with the client.
Encouraged Positive Reviews
The law firm was encouraged to ask satisfied clients to leave a review on Google My Business. They also included a request for a review on their email signatures and in their follow-up emails.
After implementing the above strategies, the law firm’s Google My Business rating increased from 3.5 stars to 4.1 stars within six months. Positive reviews began to outweigh negative reviews.
Improving a business’s online reputation can have a significant impact on their ability to attract new clients. By providing excellent customer service, engaging with clients, encouraging positive reviews, and monitoring reviews, businesses can improve their online reputation and attract new clients. This law firm’s success story is a great example of how implementing these strategies can help a business improve their online reputation and grow their business.
In today’s digital age, online reviews have become a powerful tool for consumers and businesses alike. Positive reviews can boost a business’s reputation and attract new customers, while negative reviews can harm a business’s image and drive potential customers away.
Are you struggling to get positive online reviews for your business? Our expert team specializes in helping businesses like yours improve their online reputation and generate more positive reviews.
With our proven tactics, we can help you build a strong online presence and improve your search rankings, making it easier for potential customers to find you and trust your business.
Don’t let negative reviews hold you back any longer. Contact Swell today and let us help you take control of your online reputation and grow your business!