There is now so much evidence - here Microsoft is putting its name to an article extolling the virtues of engaging with reviews - that the question for businesses is not now 'Should we?' but 'How best can we?' (and not just for SMEs!)
- Reviews drive business. There is no longer any argument amongst marketing professionals on this point. If your business has great reviews it will attract more business than an equivalent business with no - or negative - reviews
- Negative reviews deflect business. Also beyond doubt: a well-written negative review of a product or service - even one - will deflect business as well as impacting on your ranking or score. As the New York Times says "...studies show that consumers overwhelmingly choose businesses based mainly on star ratings..."
- Reviews should be displayed on your website - consumers want to see what your customers think of your business, not what you think of your business!
- Google is - by far and away - the most important place after that - you must find a mechanism to get reviews to Google - safely and reliably, and with complete credibility
- Respond to your reviews: this has three important effects: it impresses those potential customers that the business cares about customer relations, it allows the business to correct errors of fact and it warns any future reviewer that they should state their opinion accurately
- The mechanism you use must comply with the law. Mechanisms that allow your business to select customers to write reviews do not comply
- Your customers should be allowed to write a review at any time - If they cannot your business is a) not complying with the spirit of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) rules and b) giving dissatisfied customers no option but to post their review to Google or another 'open' site
- Google reviews are exploding across the web - businesses that had none this time last year often now have dozens. Consumers are learning to write Google reviews in their millions. The mechanism you choose to get reviews to Google is now more important than ever before, and should be chosen with care
- Service businesses, especially, have been slow to adopt review management - mostly because of understandable concern over the potential reputational damage misleading or inaccurate reviews might do. The rapid growth in Google reviews means that 'review denial' is no longer an option. All businesses will need a review management strategy in place for 2017, otherwise they risk their dissatisfied customers dominating their online reputation
- Independent review sites are now no longer an effective solution - partly because few of their mechanisms pass muster with the CMA, but mostly because they lack visibility in search. There are very good reasons why the biggest independent review site of them all - Yelp - has ceased sales and marketing in the UK and Europe
- Businesses with no review management strategy will increasingly suffer by comparison with those of their competitors that adopt one - It is essential that you look at least as good as your competitors in search and on your website, and it is just as important that the strategy you do adopt is beyond criticism
- Businesses that adopt the wrong review management strategy will suffer in the same way - we often come across businesses that have expended significant resources engaging with reviews, but unfortunately in the wrong direction, resulting in their reviews remaining all but invisible or their mechanism being disparaged by their competitors
Adopt the right strategy - and look like this...
...on your own site - and on Google. With HelpHound.