On a scale of 1 to 5, how do your customers feel about your business?
That question is getting asked and answered about your business every day online. If you are not actively tuned in to this dialog, you are both putting your business at risk and missing a great opportunity to elevate your brand.
The Importance of User Reviews
Online review sites started gaining traction around 2012 and since then, their growth has become exponential. Unlike a Net Promoter Score survey that you might hire an outside firm to deploy on your behalf (on a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to refer us?), online ratings and reviews sites make the results very public. In fact, regardless of your industry or business type, there are likely several, if not dozens, of places a prospect could go to learn about your business without ever visiting your website, talking to a representative, or visiting your location.
Many of the most relevant conversations about your brand are happening on a variety of reviews and ratings sites. At a minimum you should be listening to these conversations in as near real time as possible. If you are on your A game and actively engaged in the success of your business, you will also join those conversations and help guide them.
Where these conversations are happening will vary based on whether you serve end consumers (B2C) or businesses (B2B). Regardless of you whether you serve end consumers or businesses, there are a few common platforms that deserve your attention. Chief among them is Google.
While Google wasn’t the first in line to start gathering information about businesses through reviews, it has grown the fastest in recent years. That, combined with the obvious impact of positive ratings displayed in search engine results pages (SERPs) make it a great starting point to discover what your reputation is like online. If you have zero reviews on Google, you may actually count yourself as lucky. You are in a position to both start the conversation and guide it. If you have mediocre or poor reviews, you are suffering from them whether you know it or not. Building an active strategy to rally your advocates to post positive reviews is your best offense and defense.
As you expand beyond Google as a source of reviews and ratings, you’ll want to look closely at which sites matter to your business. If you are in the restaurant business, you should be looking at Facebook, Yelp and TripAdvisor. These sites draw incredible traffic numbers and have become trusted sources for the quality of a business.
If you are in the Software as a Service (SaaS) business like the emfluence Marketing Platform, your time and attention is better spent on sites like G2Crowd, Capterra, TrustRadius and Software Advice. These sites actively solicit reviews from customers in order to provide product comparisons. Not having a presence on these sites can take you out of consideration by making you seem like a small unknown player. Having a significant number of negative reviews, or an overall low ranking, can almost guarantee you a seat on the bench. On the other hand, high rankings will not only keep you in the game, but can sometimes get you included in a consideration set where you might not have already been included.
So what should you do?
First, actively monitor the review and rating sites that are relevant to your brand. (If you are an emfluence Marketing Platform Customer, you can utilize our YEXT integration to monitor many of the top sites.) Second, where possible, respond to reviews. Both positive and negative. By demonstrating that you are listening and that you care, you will elevate your brand. Third, engage your advocates to write unbiased reviews.
One of the best ways to engage your advocates is to execute a simple survey to first get a feel for how you are doing. This starts with a single question: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to refer us to someone you know?”. Based on the response to that question, you can take one of several actions. A score of 9 or 10 indicates a true advocate. This would be a timely moment to ask them for an online review at a relevant site. If the score is on the lower end of the spectrum, this is your chance to engage with the customer and find out how their experience could be improved. This practice will result in higher rankings on review sites and/or give you the opportunity to improve your product or service.
If you are a current emfluence Marketing Platform customer, you have the tools to develop a professional campaign designed to help you elevate your brand presence online. And, with the addition of our YEXT integration, you can monitor reviews on common sites.
Contact your account representative for more information, or drop us a note in the comments below.