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The ‘Hidden Gold Mine’ in Your Online Reviews

We all know that a negative online review can wreak havoc on your business, but have you ever stopped to think about leveraging the positive ones? A positive online review is a great thing for any company, but most companies tend to spend far more time worrying about the one negative review than leveraging the positive ones. After all, according to a 2018 Consumer Trends report, while a positive review may contribute to that coveted four or five stars that attract about 80 percent of online consumers, but one negative review is likely to drive 94 percent of those consumers away.

Most businesses do not spend a lot of time cultivating positive reviews online. They may ask clients and consumers to give them a positive rating, but most of the review-related energy tends to go toward damage control when a negative review appears. However, two-thirds of businesses never respond at all to reviews, positive or negative. Neglecting your reviewers can hurt your business, since just over half expect businesses to respond to all reviews, both positive and negative. Nearly half (45 percent) also said they would likely visit a business despite a negative review if the business responded online in a positive, productive manner.

Strategies for Positive Reviews

Since most consumers expect and anticipate a response from your business after leaving you a review, put some processes in place to give them what they want! If you do not, nearly half of all reviewers (including the half that said nice things about you) are likely to opt to use a different business next time. Taking the time to say “Thanks” can make a huge difference, and it helps your search results on Google as well if you are responding on Google reviews.

A nice side effect of responding to reviews is that you will have read the reviews. This means that now you can create your very own page of testimonials about your business. You might screen shot a series of positive reviews or even write a post about how you worked to solve a customer’s problem and learned something in the process. The more reactive you demonstrate you are to your readers, the more likely they are to want to work with you next time they need your product or service.

You also can use positive reviews to optimize your business performance. Many times, a positive review with four or five stars will still have some suggestions for a business owner. If you just look at the star count, then you could be tempted to think you hit a home run. However, these reviews (especially four-star reviews, where a customer usually feels some obligation to explain the loss of one star) often contain important information about the user experience. For example, “I loved this professional makeup artist because she made me look amazing, but the appointment took 45 minutes longer than expected and I was nearly late to prom. I am OK with it, though, because no one looked as good as I did.” This review shows that you are a skilled artist, but time management mattered in this client’s case. You might start asking clients when their event begins or giving them tips for helping the process go faster if they are in a time crunch. You can also look to reviews for guidance if you are assembling a list of frequently asked questions for your website.

What to Ask for in a Review

While you might feel a little strange asking for a review or asking to use a review for marketing purposes, most customers are happy to oblige whether their experience was good or bad. This can be a positive or negative thing, depending on how you handle it. If possible, use the review website to describe what you want in a review. Typically, reviewers will leave descriptions of positive or negative experiences. They are less likely to leave pictures unless there is a problem. Ask everyone to leave pictures. This can raise your ranking in the search engines and makes it more likely that your 99 satisfied customers will take the time to leave a great image showcasing your work to balance out your one unsatisfied customer’s photo gallery of disappointment.

At the end of the day, ask for honesty. Do not try to bribe customers into leaving you good reviews with rewards; many review sites will remove your business entirely if you are caught. Just ask for honesty, then respond honestly and to the best effect possible. You will find your customer base rewards your effort and enjoys you new uses of your online reviews.