Today, over 90% of customers look at online reviews before buying. Many customers start with third-party review sites, like Yelp, Angie’s List or Google Reviews. Third-party reviews are often seen as more trustworthy or unbiased than reviews or testimonials provided by the business itself. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at how to use third-party review sites, and what marketers need to know about online reviews.
The Marketer’s Guide to Online Review Sites: How to Use Third-Party Review Sites
Knowing how to use third-party review sites can help your business substantially. As companies and consumers both increasingly rely on a proof-based marketing approach, third-party review sites are becoming more and more important. In proof-based marketing, consumers seeking solutions look for verification that a business can make good on its claims. Marketers using proof-based marketing should utilize their testimonials and reviews, while also building clout on the most impactful third-party sites.
Why Do Online Reviews on Third-Party Sites Matter?
When customers provide testimonials and reviews directly to you, you can use these in promotional materials, such as social media posts, advertisements, video placements, and more (with permission from your customers). When customers provide reviews to other sites, you generally won’t be able to use these in your own promotions, since the content of the review belongs to the site and the customer.
However, reviews on third-party sites have a different kind of value. Customers researching your products or services may start on a review site to find unbiased reviews. Therefore, getting more reviews on these sites can increase your credibility and help customers feel confident about working with you. Let’s take a look at an efficient process to get more online reviews on third-party sites and the different types of review sites out there.
Identify The Third-Party Reviews Sites Best for You
There are hundreds of different review sites. Some of these are generalist sites hosting reviews about all types of products and businesses. Some of these are specific to certain industries, like medicine or law. Others only host reviews for physical products. Finding the third-party review sites that are most valuable for your business is the first step in using third-party reviews for marketing value.
How can you identify which review sites are the most valuable for your business? After all, very few businesses have the time or resources to get more reviews on dozens of different sites. There are a few things to look for. Looking at the following factors can help you decide which sites you should focus on.
- Competitors: Take a look on the review site and see where your most prominent competitors are focusing their efforts.
- Total traffic: See how much traffic the site gets overall. Generally, sites with more traffic will be more valuable for your business, since more customers will probably visit it. However, be careful not to compare an industry-specific site with a general website, as this won’t be a fair comparison from a traffic standpoint.
- Total reviews: Take a look at your industry or your competitors on the site. In general, sites that generate more reviews will be more valuable.
- Search value: When you search for your business, products, services or competitors, which sites come up first? These are the sites that your customers are most likely to find first, too. Therefore, these sites may be the most valuable.
Top Review Sites By Industry
Just about every industry has specific review sites. Which sites are best for your business will depend on your industry, competitors, and business goals. Here are a few examples of popular review sites to look into for popular industries.
- Google reviews
- Consumer Reports
- Yellow Pages
- Better Business Bureau
- G2 Crowd
- Angie’s List
- Home Advisor
How to Get More Online Reviews on Third-Party Sites
Once you’ve identified which third-party review sites you should focus on, it’s helpful to have a strategy for getting more reviews on this site. There are many ways to ask for reviews, and using multiple strategies at once can help you increase your volume of reviews fastest.
Before you make a plan to get online reviews, make sure that your strategy doesn’t violate the website’s use guidelines. Yelp, for example, explicitly forbids asking customers for reviews. Read the site’s review policies carefully and make sure you know what you can and can’t do to get reviews.
Here are a few other strategies you might implements to get more reviews on third-party sites
- Talk to customers and ask them to leave a review on the site.
- Display branding or other messaging provided by the site and encourage customers to leave a review.
- When you follow up about a customers’ experience, ask for a review and send a link.
- When you send other information about your business, add a request for a review in the email message.
- Automate review requests using email workflows.
- Tell customers why reviews are meaningful and emphasize that reviews help your business.
- Ask for a review on social media, and provide a link.
- Write a link out or ask for a review on a visible location, such as a chalkboard, menu, or another area.
- Include a link or a note and ask for a review when you ship your products.
How to Use Online Reviews
Once you have more online reviews on the site or sites that are most valuable to you, how can you use these reviews? It’s important to be cautious and read the site’s use policies to be sure you are remaining in the rules. Some sites may forbid any promotional use of their reviews.
Remember that the reviews on third-party sites do not belong to you; they belong to the website and the person who originally wrote the review. Therefore, you don’t have permission to use this content in materials like advertisements. You may, however, be able to display other aspects of these reviews.
Keep in mind that reviews on other sites serve their own promotional purpose. Customers that visit the review site are more likely to find your business when your business has good standing on the site.
Here are a few other ways to use online reviews on third-party review sites. Remember, check the site’s policies before you use these methods, and make sure you are using the content appropriately.
- Display your rank: If you have a high star-rating on the site, you might display this in your store or on your website. This clearly and quickly communicates to customers that other customers think your business is high-quality.
- Showcase your standing: You might highlight portions of your reviews or highlight your high star-rating with a promotional blog post. Include a link to your profile on the review site. Backlinks will help your page on the review site appear higher in the results when users enter a search about your business’s star rating or quality.
- Overcome objections: If you use email drips to stay in touch with customers or overcome objections, add some social proof to your emails by adding a note like “over 500 customers have given us 5 stars on [Review Site]” or “we’ve earned our customers’ trust and a five-star rating on [Review Site].”
- Promote your quality: You might include one of the previously mentioned statements in advertisements, such as Facebook ads, magazine ads, YouTube ads, or something similar.
With the right strategy around third-party reviews, you can earn more customers’ confidence and expand your business’s reach. Marketers who use online review sites carefully can leverage customers’ sentiment and turn positive feedback into long-term value.
Posted in: Social Proof