In the age of digital communications and discovery, local businesses need to have a review and reputation management strategy in place.
Here are some key stats to consider:
- 91% of people read online reviews
- People tend to trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends and family
- Customers are likely to spend 31% more on a business with excellent reviews
- Reviews can boost your search ranking and improve conversions
Reviews are kind of important, and as such, your business needs a review marketing strategy. So where do you start with reviews and reputation management?
We've put together this quick list of how to build a successful review marketing strategy, and which elements are most important. Read on to learn how you can develop a better review strategy.
What customers look for in review
Let's start with what type of key information customers rely on in reviews.
1. Star Rating
Star rating is the most important aspect of a review for most consumers. If your star rating is below three stars on the search engine or website they're using to search for local businesses, they're going to look right past you and on to a competitor with a better star rating.
Most consumers have minimum star rating in mind when reading reviews - typically, consumers need to see a star rating of three at the lowest, or they won't purchase from a business.
Let's look at the minimum star rating most consumers want to see:
- 5 stars - 8% said they won't use a business if it doesn't have a five star rating
- 4 stars - 37% want to see a four star rating
- 3 stars - 42% won't purchase from a business with fewer than three stars
- 2 stars - 9% will use a business with as low as a two star rating
- 1 star - Only 5% of consumers will use a business with a one star rating
So, your star rating doesn't have to be perfect, but you need at least a three star average rating for consumers to trust and purchase from your business.
2. Review Quantity
Quantity of online reviews is the second most important aspect of a review for consumers.
How many reviews does a customer need to see before they'll choose your business? Most people need to read 4-6 reviews, but this number ranges from 2-21 depending on the consumer.
3. Quality of Reviews
This may surprise you, but quality of reviews is also important - not only for many review platforms (which have the power to hide reviews they don't trust), but also for actual humans who are reading your reviews.
Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do about this one - some customers will write an essay while others will write "Great service" and leave it at that.
Want to know the trick to getting plenty of high quality reviews? Make efforts to seek more reviews.
4. Recency of Reviews
If a review is too old, consumers won't trust it. For a consumer to trust a review, it needs to be written within the last six months.
So, how can you set up a review marketing strategy for your business?
Here's a step-by-step review marketing strategy your business can use:
1. Perform a review and reputation management audit
Search for your business on popular review sites, or search for [business name] and reviews or "[location], [industry] reviews." This will give you an idea of how many review sites your business is on as well as your average star rating.
You'll also be able to tell which review sites you need more reviews on as well as which sites you have a stellar reputation and plenty of reviews on.
In case you need a list of important review sites, here are a few:
- Yellow Pages
- Angie's List
2. Once you've audited your online reputation, make a note of a few of your best and worst review sites
This will help guide your process in terms of where to focus your efforts.
3. Start (or continue) collecting email addresses
When a customer checks in or checks out, ask for their email address.
4. Start sending out emails
A few days after a customer makes a purchase, send an email asking if they'd be willing to review your business on the review websites you recognized as needing the most love. If you don't have a lot of time, you can create a template email that you modify slightly for each customer.
5. Follow up
Don't just leave it at getting more reviews, start replying to any negatives and even some of your positive reviews to let the customer know that you appreciate their effort. Don't forget to reply to social media comments, messages and reviews, too.
As noted, reviews form an important part of your wider marketing strategy, and it's important to make proactive efforts, beyond providing better service alone, to boost your review performance. It's not easy, and there's no definitive best way to do it, but you need to consider how reviews reflect on your business, and how you can use them to advantage.