By Hannah Whittenly
More Americans are checking online reviews as part of their decision in purchasing a product. Online reviews on trusted sites can make or break a sale. Yet, many companies don’t seem to understand how reviews work to their advantage. A wider, more effective strategy can use reviews to boost brand power and generate more income. Here are some ways to make reviews a key part of your income stream.
Don’t assume that good reviews will happen consistently, or that all reviews will be good reviews. Reviews are an open subject that can come from different sources, cover different topics, and vary widely in content. Good reviews can be quite vague, while some negative reviewers make it a point to belabor minor issues or personal foibles. There are many good reviews out there that are paid for or faked. Reviews identified as false could have a negative effect with both search engine ranking and consumers.
Identify your marketing platforms
Social media is a popular resource for reviews, but it’s important to discover which specific channels your customers look to. With nearly 2 billion users, Facebook reviews still get a lot of attention. Use the major websites but also look for review sights that are relevant in your industry. For example, Zagat is for restaurants and Vitals for healthcare. Learn the metrics they are using to gauge responses.
Make asking for reviews your CTA
When you know which review sites will serve you best, invite your customers to use them. Use this as the call to action in your emails, printed materials, and digital content. You should also provide a review page on your own company website that promotes your business and invites users to leave their own reviews. As briefly mentioned above, they can review your business through Facebook. Xyngular reviews is a good example of this as it, like other businesses, provides that review area so that potential clients can go get real information straight from consumers.
If you’re doing this from your business website, for example, a simple prepared form with a comment box and a few multiple choice questions should do. End with a button that emails you the form or posts it automatically. You might consider offering incentives to encourage reviews, such as special offers or discounts.
Share customer reviews
These reviews can serve as testimonials both on the review page and scattered among other pages of your site. You should also include some social media links to encourage users to share them on their own. Using the best blurbs from actual user reviews are ideal for your own social media posts to sites such as Twitter and Facebook. They can also work in visual advertising such as standard rectangular ads or even online banner and text links. A truly glowing review is a powerful sales tool all on its own. Basing a sales pitch on the testimony of an excited customer creates a sense of consumer confidence quickly.
You should recognize that some reviews warrant a personal response. Strongly positive reviews call for a thank you and perhaps even the offer of a generous coupon or freebie as part of the thanks. Reviews that point out potential issues should be addressed. Ask for more specific or additional information you need to investigate the problem. Thank the user for their insight and make it clear that their concerns are being taken seriously. Positive or negative, it’s important that audiences know you value their input. Taking the opportunity to engage in positive or constructive conversation increases your brand awareness and builds stronger relationships.
The more good reviews you can collect, the more it will improve your marketing and your bottom line. Building consumer trust is the best sales tool you could have. Using reviews as both a promotional tool and a source of feedback helps to improve customer satisfaction and repeat sales for your business.
Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.