Online reviews are more influential than you know

Digital360 on 18 August 2017

Let’s be honest. Internet users are more likely to complain about a bad experience online than to post a positive review. This means that if businesses aren’t being careful, they could end up with a disproportionate amount of negative reviews.

According to the Australian Sensis Social Media Report (2016), online blogs and reviews remain highly influential on purchasing decisions, with 60 per cent of social media users claiming to read them before making a purchase. With 27 per cent of online users posting blogs or reviews, “businesses and brands [need] to do everything they can to get on the front foot and avoid negative reviews”.

In this way, businesses must be able to manage how they get online reviews across platforms like Google, Facebook and TripAdvisor. Thankfully, most platforms will have systems in place to inhibit businesses from buying and or faking online reviews – whether they’re positive or negative. Even if a business did manage to post disingenuous reviews, they’re always going to look fake and damage their reputation anyway.

So, what’s the alternative? How do you get genuine reviews from real customers? Here are some great ideas to get you started.

1. Ask your customers

Identify your previous customers who’ve had a great experience with your product or service. Send them a follow-up email or give them a call, thanking them for their support and ask if they’d like to leave an online review.

If they are happy to do so, you can send through a ‘how to leave a review’ template, or ‘tips to leaving an online review’. This will help avoid any confusion, and might just give your customer some further encouragement.

2. Prompt your customers

Another way to encourage online reviews is to add a 'leave a review' button on your website and social media pages. Otherwise known as a call to action button, or CTA, a review prompt is a simple and yet highly effective way to increase audience engagement.

To effectively ‘prompt’ your customers to leave a review, you must place your CTA buttons where your audience is most likely to see them. Figures show that only 65 per cent of users will bother to scroll, with the most viewed area of the page, just above the fold. This means that you should be placing striking CTA buttons towards the top of the webpage.

However, figures also show that users engage nearly three times as much with content below the fold. So, it is also important to place an additional CTA button towards the bottom of the webpage. But remember, don’t bombard your users with unnecessary CTAs. Rather, pick the most important and use them wisely.

3. Send an electronic direct mail (EDM) campaign

EDMs, otherwise known as newsletters, are a great way to prompt your customers to leave a review. In addition to placing a ‘leave a review’ button, you can further incentivise your customers using a specific campaigns asking your customers to leave a positive review on Google, Facebook or an app store.

Of course, you cannot give out money or gifts. Those tactics are technically payment and are against the guidelines for most platforms. But you can get creative in other ways. Instead, you can launch competitions like ‘win a gift card’ or ‘wine a bottle of wine’ to get users excited about your business.

What’s more, these competitions can be tailored to suit your business, reinforcing your brand’s message in the public sphere, or generate word-of-mouth marketing.

4. Social media

In the same way that an EDM can generate targeted campaigns, social media is another way to garner online reviews.

On your Facebook Business Page, for instance, you can show your business’s location, check-ins, star ratings and reviews. While this is a great way for your customers to engage with your brand, be aware that you will need to monitor and answer all queries.

If staying on top of your social media platforms is something you don’t have time for, then it might be time to consider some outside help from a social media agency.

5. Search engines

Search engine platforms like Google, are one of the most powerful ways to get recognition for online reviews. The first step is to set up a Google My Business account.

Like Facebook’s Local Businesses page, Google My Business will show your business’s location, star ratings, opening hours, contact details, popular times and reviews from right across the web. It’s important that your business information is up-to-date. There’s nothing worse than clicking on an outdated webpage.

Again, it’s imperative that you monitor and reply to all queries. Dealing with negative reviews is just as important – if not more important – than encouraging new ones. This may sound daunting, but you don’t need to go it alone, a digital agency is just a phone call away.

Final thoughts

Remember, 58 per cent of users will look at up to 5 reviews before deciding, which means around 4 in 10 users read even more. In this way, it’s important that you have not one, not two, but several honest and positive reviews from reliable sources.

If you’d like to learn more about how to market your business online, contact one of our digital marketing specialists in Melbourne.