There are dozens of sites that customers can post online reviews of your business, and it’s difficult to manage them all. Where do you start? Whether you’re a new business or you’re an established business new to online review management, this strategy can help you organize and improve your online reviews. With a plan in place, you can control the conversation customers are having about you and make sure your happy customers are heard.
The Beginner’s Guide to Online Review Management
Make a List
Before you can begin your online review management and improvement, you have to know what you’re up against. Block out some time to do some research and audit your online business reputation. To start, search for your business as a customer might. What comes up first? Your website? Your Facebook Page? Your Google Business listing? A third-party site? Are these reviews reliable and made by real customers?
You’ll probably come across some negative reviews, but don’t worry about addressing them yet. At this stage, simply try to gather as much information as you can. In your list, record the following information about each result you find:
- Search engine results page (SERP) position
- Number of reviews listed
- Overall star-rating and/or overall sentiment (positive, negative, neutral)
- Reviews appear to be made by real customers (or not)
- Information within the reviews is accurate (or not)
- Complaints in the reviews have been addressed (or not)
After the first page of results, do a quick scan to see if there are any particularly problematic results, like a blog post or local news story defaming your business. If you find these, add them to your list. If not, stick to the first page of results. Since most customers don’t scroll past the first page of results, it’s probably not worth your time to go past the first page either.
Prioritize Online Review Sources
At this point you probably have 8 to 10 items on your online review management list. Most likely, you don’t have the time to manage all of these. Choose the sources that are most impactful, and prioritize managing those first.
Look at your research from the previous step and find which sites showed up first, which scores were bad, or any reviews that were obviously false. If any of the sites that showed up had ten or more positive reviews, you might skip these and move on to more urgent items. Remember your own website is important here too, especially if it shows up high on the SERP.
If you’re a well-established business, you may find that you already have a number of positive reviews across a variety of sites. After all, you’ve been around this long because you do a good job, and customers like you! In this case, you may want to take a closer look at the ROI of online reputation management. Your strategy can always be stronger, and you can reach more customers with well-placed reviews. To start, look for holes in your online reviews; are there any places customers are looking for you, but not finding you? If you don’t have a Facebook page, website, or other top online listings, these should be your priority.
New businesses may find few relevant results to start. That’s okay. A clean slate is good; you have the opportunity to control the conversation around your business. You’ll want to prioritize the top spots on the SERP. Ideally, these will be your Google Business listing, website, and Facebook page. You can control some parts of what appears on your Google Business listing and Facebook page, and every aspect of your website, so make sure this information is accurate, and your SEO is good. If you don’t have any reviews in these places yet, this is a good place to start.
Gather more reviews
Now that you have the information you need, you’ll need to bolster the reviews on your top-priority sites. Make a plan to gather more testimonials and direct customers to the site to post their reviews. There are several ways to do this, and which you choose will depend on where you want to gather more reviews and how you best interact with your customers. Here are a few ways you can ask for reviews;
- Automated email campaign
- In-store tablet or kiosk
- Facebook campaign
- Customer appreciation event
- Contest or giveaway
- Other unconventional ways
With the right plan, you can automate your testimonial gathering process in under one hour. Check out the Step-by-Step Guide to Automating Testimonial Collection.
Manage Your Online Reviews
If you have some reviews coming in through emails, some on YouTube, some on Facebook, and a number of other places, it’s going to get difficult to manage. Focus your reviews into one easy-to-use platform, and make sure customers know where to go to submit them. If you use Boast, you can request, gather, approve, and display text and video testimonials all in one place. You’ll also want to use a platform that integrates with your WordPress website, Facebook page, Mailchimp account, and other services so you can use the reviews that you gather in more places. With these integrations, you can continue to manage your online reviews from one place, but use them in many different ways.
Monitor Your Online Reviews
Nothing online remains unchanged for very long, and your online reputation is no different. After you boost your reputation on your top-priority sites, including your own website, you’ll want to monitor these sites. You can set up Google Alerts with your company name as a keyword to see when new mentions go up anywhere online. It’s also a good idea to check back on your review sites periodically and thank customers who post reviews, and respond (where appropriate) to negative reviews or issues. Finally, keep gathering, posting and using testimonials in new ways. Some of the top brands in the world use testimonials to maintain their industry authority, engage customers, build community, and build trust.
Once you have a plan to manage online reviews, the process won’t seem so chaotic. Remember that building (or repairing) your reputation takes time, consistent effort, and exemplary service. If you continue to impress your customers and make it easy for them to show their approval, you’ll start to see more reviews rolling in.