This is Part 2 of a three part serious on reputation management and online reviews. Here’s Part 1.
It’s not hard to miss the importance of online reviews and how they influence consumer purchase decisions and a brand’s reputation online. But there is another facet of online reviews that isn’t quite so cut-and-dry: review management. Because reviews are so important (and because there is so much riding on this seemingly innocuous channel), many businesses are starting to implement proactive review management strategies in order to cultivate and curate the ‘best’ review profiles available.
Here are the four key pillars of reputation and review management:
Quality: Let’s face it: consumers want to see positive reviews. 87% of consumers won’t consider doing business with any brand with low online reviews, and companies risk losing up to 22% of sales opportunities if a potential customer finds a negative review on the entire first page of search results. Simply put, the quality of ratings is key. Brands themselves can help influence the quality of online reviews by delivering amazing customer service, soliciting reviews in clear, easy ways, and making quality a focus across the company.
Recency: Consumers are looking for newer reviews, which means ongoing, consistent inbound reviews are necessary for a successful reputation management strategy. A company can’t make itself comfortable around a handful of glowing reviews and simply expect customers to stick around. Customers – more than 84% of them, to be exact – disregard reviews that are older than 3 months, if they are even bothered to read them. Organizations must have methods in place to bring in a steady stream of reviews to offset the ones that are aging out.
Quantity: While more reviews can help boost things like a brand’s SEO or Google Search Ranking, it also doesn’t hurt when actually engaging with consumers. The more reviews a brand has the more chance there is for a conversion, so the more the merrier! The online review sweet spot is around 150 reviews or so, but all brands should shoot for at least 50 on a page.
Response: The world of online reviews isn’t always sunshine and daisies. Small businesses will receive a few negative reviews, and no these will not make or break a brand’s online reputation. How a business responds to negative reviews, however, just might. Consumers typically view negative reviews as feedback or advice on how to operate a business, and they want to know their advice is being taken into consideration. To this end, more than half of consumers expect a response from a business! Responding to reviews (both positive and negative) also gives a team the chance to ‘tell their side of the story’ and deliver an explanation for what might have been a negative customer experience.
Driving Customer Experience
For many, connecting online reviews to the customer experience seems black-and-white: a customer with a good experience leaves a good review while one with a bad experience leaves a bad review. But, in fact, online reviews can be a driving factor in cultivating a positive customer experience, not only a result of it.
The consumer experience as a whole doesn’t necessarily have clear start and end dates. In fact, before a customer even starts engaging with a brand, things are influencing their experience. Marketing campaigns, ads, recommendations, and, yes, reviews are all building a picture of a brand in a customer’s head. This continues while a customer is actually engaging with a business through in-store or online research, support, and a purchase. But the experience doesn’t stop there. When a brand reaches out for a post-purchase online review or asks for feedback on a recent shopping experience, this impacts the customer experience – even though a purchase was already made.
A few ways brands can drive a good customer experience with reviews include:
- Relying on automation and streamlined technology wherever possible.
- Cultivating and curating a varied online review presence across multiple review sites.
- Making customers feel comfortable in such a way that they are ready and willing to leave glowing reviews.
- Responding to and following up on every single review, even if it is just to say thank you.