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Thanks to online reviews, customers now hold a massive amount of power when it comes to making or breaking a business. 97% of people read online reviews before engaging with a business, with a further 94% saying that negative reviews can heavily influence their decision to purchase. Stats even say that a bad company reputation can end up costing at least 10% more per hire, so this isn’t simply a matter of customer loyalty; it can go a lot further and start to hurt your revenue.

While it may seem like a business owner is totally at the mercy of a star rating, you’re not as powerless as you think. Apart from simply offering a great product or service from the get-go, there are plenty of solid (and above-board!) strategies to get more good reviews, as well as tactfully navigate the negative ones.

Here are five of the very best.

1. Just Ask

67% of people will leave a review if asked. Sometimes it really is that simple.

First and foremost, you’re mainly going to want to make this request of people who’ve had genuinely great experiences. There’s a marked difference between a great experience and a more generic good one. To most people, a run-of-the-mill good experience isn’t remarkable; it’s simply expected.

It usually takes a more extreme experience with a business, positive or negative, to prompt a rating or a written review, so contact customers who know you’ve gone above and beyond. The numbers say that a large chunk of them will be happy to share their experiences.

2. Drown Out the Negative

Consumer or client: no one is perfect, which means that it’s inevitable that bad reviews are going to spring up for your business, many of them scathing and written in the heat of the moment. Fortunately, while you may feel like you’re entirely at the whim of a frustrated customer, negative reviews don’t have to drag your entire business down.

Drowning them out may sound like a shifty solution, but there’s nothing unethical about getting a load of genuine positive reviews and using them to bury the negative few. If you’re doing quality work that people are happy to leave you positive reviews in force, then they become the true representation of your business. More positive reviews means that they’ll be the thing that people will end up seeing first, with the negative reviews- especially the ones that are old and out-of-date- pushed to the bottom of the pile. In this case, first impressions really do matter.

It may seem like an uphill battle, but with a review strategy in place, you can target the reviewers who matter most.

3. Respond, and Make it Timely

The stats say that 90% of millennials will not only read the reviews for a business, but also go to the trouble of reading the response from the owner…if there is a response.

This evens up the score by quite a bit, as you’re able to seek out the negative reviews and give any number of responses: your side of the story, an apology, and even a correction if you feel that the facts are being misrepresented. This is an especially powerful strategy if you’re taking over a business with a slew of negative reviews, as you can explain that there’s a new team and you’re planning to do things differently.

The key is to respond quickly, with tact. Negative reviews that you don’t feel are justified can be a cause of distress, but by responding fast and keeping your cool, you can use them as a springboard to continue representing your brand in the best possible light.

Of course, you can also feel free to respond to the positive reviews as well, showing that you appreciate the response and the effort that went into writing it.

4. Solve Problems Off-Platform

When it comes to serious disputes, you’re going to want to take things out of the public eye and onto a private forum. The only thing worse than a poor review is a flame war comment thread beneath it.

In doing so, you’ll show that you have a genuine interest in solving the problem, both to the person who left the review and those who’ll be reading your responses. And if things escalate from then onwards, you’ll at least have removed that conversation from the eyes of the entire internet.

5. Have a Strategy in Place

Amazing but true: One of the best strategies for properly handling reviews is to have a strategy.

Things do get a whole lot easier when you have a solid system in place. Stay vigilant for when reviews are posted, so you can respond if necessary and continue the conversation. Draft a template for an email to be sent out to customers who you know have had a great experience, so you can ask them to share it with the world.

With so many review sites available, it can be difficult to keep track of what’s being said about your company online. It’s up to you to know where it’s all happening, and have a strategy in place to keep on top of the conversation.

The Smarter Way

It’s worth mentioning that reviews can have a powerful effect on your clickthrough rate, which is why the coders at SBM custom-developed ‘schema markup’. This is essentially a tool that tells Google more relevant information about your business, which includes what people have said about you in their reviews.

With smarter technology, you can take the fickle beast of online reviews and make it work for you, increasing your clickthrough rate, driving traffic and letting the whole world know that your business is worth rating.



Looking to supercharge your digital marketing? Contact Smith Brothers Media for a business discovery session today!


– Written by Stuart J.A. McNabb

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