Of the many different components that make up the average small business digital marketing strategy in 2018 one of the most frustrating and confusing is the online review. Yet they are taking on more and more importance in the world of small business retail, and that applies whether your company sells primarily online, offline or a combination of both.
Why Online Reviews Matter So Much in 2018 – The Customer Influence Effect
Customers love online reviews. According to a Brightlocal study, 91% of consumers read online reviews at least occasionally when making purchasing decisions of all kinds. What is even more striking, however, is that of the people questioned for the study 84% said they gave as much weight to an online review on a ‘reputable’ site as they do to a personal recommendation from a friend.
As a review may touch on almost every aspect of a business – product quality and selection, customer service, pricing, store condition (for brick and mortar concerns) website navigation (for online retail businesses) and more, then it’s almost natural that many consumers consider reviews to be very useful ‘snapshots’ of a business overall.
The picture customer reviews ‘paint’ of your brand is far from the only reason you should be paying more attention to them though. According to various studies, reports and expert opinions online customer reviews can also influence overall brand image, drive additional traffic to a company’s website, improve their standing against competitors (or weaken it if the reviews are bad) and even slightly influence an e-commerce website’s standing in the SERPs.
Which Review Sites Actually Matter to Retail Businesses?
Even a very quick Google search will bring up dozens and dozens of review sites, but which of them matter most for retail businesses? Some of the most important include:
- Google Reviews
Better Business Bureau
For Brick and Mortar Retail:
There are, as we mentioned, many more review sites, but these are both the most popular and the most influential with consumers, and, as a small business owner with limited time, the ones you should be paying the most attention to.
How Do I Know What People are Saying About My Business?
Very few busy business owners have the time to visit each of the important review sites individually on a daily basis to check to see if a review has been left, yet, in theory, it would be a best practice to do so. This is where a listening engine or social mention aggregator can help.
Google Alerts allows you to set up alerts for branded queries (usually your business name, unique product names, or individual employee names). You’ll be notified whenever Google picks up a mention of your business online.
Or, to help you keep track of social reviews as well Social Mention allows you to scour the web for mentions of your business too. Simply pop in the keywords you want to monitor (such as your business name) and you’ll receive alerts when mentions are tracked. Both options are free to use.
Can I Remove Bad Reviews?
As a general rule, none of the online review sites will allow you to change or remove reviews. You can, however, respond in most cases if you choose to. Doing so can be one of the best ways to negate the impact of a bad review, but you do have to do so carefully. A good rule of thumb? Respond with as much calm and understanding as you would if the customer were standing right in front of you.
Should I Ask for Reviews?
Yes! In fact, you should make a habit of asking customers for reviews. It’s one of the best ways to get more of them. Doing so does not have to be a time-consuming process or uncomfortable process though. Here are just a few ideas:
- Include a link (or links) to your preferred review sites on your website
Add a ‘request to review’ on your product receipts/packing slips
For Facebook which is growing in importance as a source of reviews) post an occasional request as a part of your day to day content
The one thing you should never do? Pay for reviews. That is not only against the Terms of Service of most review sites but also a basic bad practice as it’s very likely the deception will be discovered in the end and affect your brand reputation more than a couple of poor reviews ever could have done.Koehler Home Decor is a wholesaler of home decor accessories and unique gifts. Source quality wholesale merchandise at KoehlerHomeDecor.com and find tips for promoting your business on our blog.