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Giving Power to Customers Through Online Reviews

Does your business receive online reviews? The prospect of online reviews from customers can be daunting to many businesses because of the lack of control you have over the content. However, online reviews can be extremely valuable to a brand in terms of gaining credibility and building an online community.

Benefits of online reviews

In episode 51, the Brand Newsroom team was joined by Nick Lembo from online review site Yelp. He shared inside information on online reviews. According to Nick, online reviews are highly trusted and used by customers, with almost 89% of people turning to review sites to find information about businesses.

Although it is commonly believed online reviews are used mainly in the hospitality industry, this isn’t necessarily the case. Yelp’s largest category of reviewed business is retail and shopping, which make up 23% of the site. People also frequently use Yelp for services, even down to doctors, dentists and hairdressers.

From a marketing perspective, Nick reported platforms such as Yelp were a means of reaching a very influential consumer group. According to Nick, Yelp users are:

  • highly educated
  • 40% of Yelp users are 18-35 years old
  • 40% have a self-reported income of over $100,000

Research suggests consumers react similarly to online reviews as they do to word of mouth recommendations. This has huge marketing implications for businesses, as it is a widely held view in the marketing industry that Word of Mouth Marketing (often referred to as WOMM) is the most powerful way to market to your customers.

Audience Building

If you’re a regular user of online reviews, you’ll be familiar with this common scenario: One customer leaves a bad review of a widely-loved business online, and several other customers of the business jump to the defence of the business and dispute this claim with a reply.

This behaviour is a public display of brand loyalty, which many businesses only dream about generating from their customers. It can be difficult to generate this response from customers without giving them something clear to fight for, and most customers feel more comfortable voicing their opinions to an individual, rather than a corporation.

Where can you be reviewed?

Yelp isn’t the only platform on which you should expect to receive online reviews, and businesses should be aware of all the available review platforms to monitor the social chatter surrounding their brand. As a starting point you should keep your eye out for the following:

Worried about negative reviews?

Online reviews empower customers to say whatever they like about your brand, so the reality is that you will at some time or another have a negative review posted about your business. However, there are ways to respond to poor reviews that can minimise the negative impacts to a business. When responding to a negative review, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Be fast in your response. For brands this is best achieved by having some kind of dedicated resource for monitoring and responding to online reviews.
  • Craft a response that you can be proud of. Although the temptation to reply to a negative review is strong, resist the urge and think carefully: would you be happy for your partner, your parent or your child to read this response? Would you gladly say this to a person’s face? Letting your emotions out through the keyboard can cause more harm than good for your brand image.
  • Make sure to thank people for their review, regardless of whether or not it is positive. Remember it is okay to have a difference in opinion, and you can’t please everyone. If you can’t come to an agreement, just agree to disagree.
  • If you have the option of public vs. private responses, respond publicly to negative feedback and privately to positive. Your other customers will gain no value from seeing you say ‘thank you’, but they will from seeing you resolve conflicts.

The presence of a negative review can also be an opportunity to grow a loyal customer. There are studies to show customers perceive a service as more valuable after it was done incorrectly at first, but expertly recovered, than they do if there was no error in the first place.

If you would like help encouraging customers to review your business through content, contact Lush Digital Media. We love to create content for all kinds of business objectives.

By Carla Young

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