A behind the scenes look at getting online reviews

Digital360 on 25 September 2017

We all know the importance of a first impression. It’s become increasingly important for business owners and managers to be able to monitor online reviews and ratings across all of their web platforms.

The Australian Sensis Social Media Report 2016 found that 60 per cent of users claim that they read online reviews before making a purchase. But or many SMEs, online reviews and ratings are a relatively new phenomenon, and can prove tough to manage.

What’s more, online reviews and ratings can be disingenuous. It's tough for business owners, managers, and their customers to decipher which reviews are legitimate – and which ones are fake. If not managed, negative online reviews can be incredibly damaging to a business’s reputation.

How to spot fake reviews

According to consumer group CHOICE, 15 per cent of online reviews are fake. They suggest three tips for spotting fake online reviews.

  • Check reviews about the same business from different sources.
  • Keep an eye out for tell-tale signs of deception, such as a sudden increase in positive or negative reviews over a short time frame.
  • Beware of reviews that are allegedly from different people, but are suspiciously similar in tone and style.

It's not that difficult to purchase good reviews for yourself or bad ones for competitors. Fake online reviews are a problem across a number of platforms, including Google, Yelp and Tripadvisor. Be aware of the tactics that competitors use to bring themselves up and others down.

Now that you know how to spot dishonest review tactics, it’s time to learn how to get some positive ones.

How to get positive reviews

The first step to getting positive reviews is to know where your customers are writing them. Thanks to Google My Business, it’s easier than ever for SMEs to monitor reviews seen in Google search results.

Once you’ve established where reviews are appearing, it’s important that SMEs build in-house response procedures to deal with all feedback – positive and negative. By responding to your customers in a timely manner, you are showing them that you care about their experience and that you take their opinions seriously. A happy customer is a powerful ambassador for your business.

Encouraging your customers to leave a review is another great way to build your online reputation. Only 27 per cent of Australians post online reviews or blogs, so it’s important to prompt the other 73 per cent.

If you’re not sure how to ask your customers to leave a review, here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • You can ask your previous customers who’ve had a great experience with your product or service by sending them a follow-up email or phone call.
  • You can add a 'leave a review' button on your website and social media pages. A review prompt is a simple and yet highly effective way to increase audience engagement.
  • Register your business with search engines like Google. You can do this by signing up for a Google My Business account. Like Facebook’s 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.

Managing your reputation online

While online reviews matter a great deal, they can be misleading and aren’t always genuine. The onus is on you to monitor who is saying what and when. However, not all SMEs have the time or the resources to effectively manage their online reputation. This is where a digital agency that specialises in digital marketing may be able to help.

If you'd like to learn more about digital marketing services, contact one of our digital specialists in Melbourne today.