Marketing experts claim that an estimated 92 percent of consumers base their purchasing decisions on online reviews. The increasingly savvy consumers are relying on social media platforms and third-party review sites, such as Facebook, Yelp, and Google+ to read reviews, parse out provider information, and get updates on the latest trends in order to make more informed choices when selecting a provider.
More than ever before, businesses have to be proactive in managing their online reputation to make sure that their practice portrays a positive image to their audience. This will, in turn, ensure the loyalty of your existing clients, get you new patrons, and help you achieve your long-term business goals.
If you, however, continue to ignore any negative online reviews of your practice or fail to engage with your customers and prospects, you will be viewed as untrustworthy, which will make it hard to convert your visitors.
Here are a few other reasons why you should work on your online reputation:
- Good/bad reviews easily go viral on social media
Social media is one of the most powerful digital marketing tools available today. With over 1.8 billion active members in the different social media networks – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. – having a presence on multiple platforms can increase your reach within your region considerably.
Social media and third party review websites work hand-in-hand, since most people prefer to post reviews and comments using their personal social media profiles. In turn, these comments (like on Facebook or Google+) show up on the News Feed of the reviewer’s family members and friends, who may respond by “Liking” the review or even adding their own comments to the chain of comments already made by other people.
With such an elaborate sharing structure, a single review made via social media can grow your reputation exponentially through “Likes”, “Shares”, and comments. If the review is a positive one, you can easily reach new prospects and grow your conversions.
- Positive reviews encourage word-of-mouth referrals
Marketing experts claim that 80 percent of consumers consider online opinions as if they were personal recommendations from a close friend or family member, which are said to influence consumer decisions more than online ads.
This means that positive online reviews by your satisfied clients can easily reach other prospects beyond their circle of family and friends on social media. For instance, someone searching for your services in your area can come across your positive review and be influenced to try your practice.
- Positive reviews boost your SEO
Positive online reviews not only give prospects a reason to choose you, but also give Google and other search engines a reason to list you at the top of SERPs for local searches in your industry.
At this point, you don’t need convincing that consumers rely heavily on online reviews. And since search engines are in the business of giving searchers the most relevant results based on the search query, they love online reviews too. In fact, online reviews account for nearly 10 percent of search engines’ ranking factors.
How to start building your online reputation
Now that you know how important your online reputation is to building a successful business, how or where do you start with creating a good one?
Step 1: Create or claim your business review pages
To begin with, you need a place where you can direct and control your 5-star reviews. So, create or claim business pages for your business on the popular third-party review sites, including:
- Yelp – Findings from a Harvard Business School study showed that a single star increase on Yelp review could lead to a 5-9 percent boost in revenue. This is the most popular third-party review site, followed by
- Google+ – This platform has an estimated 135 million active users, and over 1 billion Google daily searches. Having a Google+ page will increase your chances of appearing first in SERPs when a consumer uses Google search engine to perform a local search. Additionally, linking your Google+ account to your business site creates credible backlinks for better SEO
- Facebook – There are over 1 billion active users on Facebook today. This is the biggest social media platform available, giving you an opportunity to reach an incredibly large number of people, not only through reviews, but also sponsored/paid ads.
Sometimes, these websites use publicly available data to create a page for your business. So if you find one that already exists, simply claim it for free. Once you create or assume ownership of the pages, you can monitor incoming reviews and respond to them as the official representative of the practice.
Step 2: Track the Reviews
After setting up your business pages, you should monitor any reviews posted on them. It can be hard to keep track by yourself and still run your business, so consider assigning one of your employees to monitor all three (or more) platforms for incoming reviews and mentions.
Instruct them to promptly and appropriately respond to reviews as soon as they’re made to avoid bad reviews from going unnoticed and unaddressed.
Keep in mind that if there are any online platforms in your local community where people review and comment on local businesses – like a city-of-commerce website or local business directory – it should be monitored as well to connect with local area residents.
Step 3: Encourage positive reviews
When you know that your business is providing a unique and pleasant experience for your customers, you should encourage them to leave positive, five-star reviews of your practice.
Ask your highly satisfied customers directly to review your business, but don’t instruct them what to say or take it personally if they don’t.
Otherwise, encourage them by:
- Making it easy to access third-party review sites by embedding icons that link to them on your business website. The icon could be marked “Review Us Now” directing visitors to Yelp or Google+
- Using survey tools to send satisfaction surveys to your current and new clients. The tool prompts users who leave a positive review to rate your business on a trusted third-party review site, and also gives you access to consumer feedback that you can use to identify your strengths and weaknesses. One such tool is the iMatrix Survey Tool
- Give your clients a reason to help you and review you by introducing new offers, providing valuable content, or presenting some other kind of incentive that make them more willing to leave a review
Step 4: Respond to reviews
When your clients take time to review your business, it is important to acknowledge their opinions. This will not only make them happy, but also present you to prospects reading those reviews as a courteous and professional business that values feedback, whether positive or negative.
Studies suggest that 71 percent of consumers who experience a quick and effective response to their comments are more likely to recommend that business to others, compared to 19 percent of consumers who review but don’t get a response. So,
- Always respond quickly to someone’s comment or concern
- For good reviews, say “thank you” and perhaps “welcome again”
- Remember to incorporate keywords for SEO purposes. Include a location, business industry, and other keywords a prospect is likely to use when searching for your business
- It is important that you be genuine in your response. Don’t simply copy-paste one generic response. Instead, personalize each response according to the feedback provided.
Finally, always respond to negative reviews as well. Studies show that 86 percent of online consumers like to hear from a company regarding a complaint or negative review. So, take your time to respond thoughtfully, demonstrating how much you value your business, and how you solve potential problems for your clients. Investigate any complaints before responding, and if need be, resolve serious problems in private before mentioning on the review that the problem was addressed.