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The SMB Guide to Online Reviews

Everyone knows that word-of-mouth advertising is the best. Once more people hear about your business, everything will be easy. Isn’t this what we’ve all heard? Why then are only 33% of companies working to get online reviews?

Why Your Small Business Should Pay Attention to Online Review Sites

According to Yext, your website may only account for a third of your online visibility. You can check if there is some validity to this when you skim through the search results for your business. What percentage of these belong to you? How does your website rank against these other listings? Online review websites make up much of this third-party information about your company. They are a simple way to grow your audience and increase your visibility.

People trust other people more than companies. It is what makes word-of-mouth advertising so powerful. It used to be that one would seek advice from friends, family and trusted contacts. 88% of the population consider an online review from a complete stranger as valuable. What matters to your customer should matter to you. Smart businesses use their customers’ words to substantiate their own.

Don’t call attention to yourself; let others do that for you. – Proverbs 27:2

How to Use Online Reviews for Your Small Business

Managing online reviews is a great way to make sales and keep customers. In most cases, it only costs a few minutes of your time. Here is how you can get started today.

1. Listen to your customer

People are talking about you already. They may even be leaving you online reviews. Find out by searching for your business and products online. If you find a platform where people are already talking about you, get on it! Claim your listing on that site. Make a profile. Do whatever you have to do to take part in that conversation. Next, find out where people are talking about your competitors. Get into these sites as well and make sure to listen to reviews of the competition as well as your own. The third search you will want to do is for synergistic or related businesses. It may uncover industry-specific review sites. Learn all you can from these sites. This information can help you better run and market your business.

2. Ask for customer reviews

If you haven’t claimed a Google My Business listing, do it now. It allows you to ask for reviews (not all do). Google makes it easy to share a link to your review page. Place it in your email signature, on newsletters and social media. Asking for a review can be part of your customer service procedure. Here are a few other places you should consider joining:

3. Engaging with your customers

What happens when people are saying negative things about your product or service? The first thing is to notice. Small business owners must be on these review sites, looking for criticism. Some of these comments will address genuine concerns and issues. Others will be spiteful, spammy, or irrelevant. Report spam comments. The rest should receive a respectful response. It needn’t turn into a long conversation. Others will be watching to see if you care. There can be a real gold mine in the negative comments along with the good. Be part of the 33% reaping their rewards.

Further Reading: How to Handle Negative Criticism

Don’t Get Caught With Malpractice

Behaving well on review website goes beyond etiquette. Each platform has its own rules and guidelines. Don’t be ignorant of federal laws either. Here are a few things you should NOT be doing:

  • Getting staff to leave positive reviews about your business
  • Asking staff to review the competition negatively
  • Creating fake accounts to leave reviews
  • Paying for reviews
  • Enticing customers to leave a review with contests or promotions
  • Editing customers reviews without their permission
  • Deleting customer reviews (negative or otherwise)

4. Be your best when tested

Online review sites will help you get exposure online. You can earn people’s respect by how you interact with others on these platforms. These are wonderful if you have good products and services. It works for imperfect brands that are transparent and striving to improve. Each company earns their reviews. Good reviews come from overdelivering on clearly set expectations. After that, give the satisfied customers a place to leave a review. Their four and five-star reviews could encourage an 18% increase in sales. Embrace online reviews and see the benefits pour in!

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