Top tips for making the most of online reviews

on 17 June, 2013

Customer reviews are playing an increasingly important role in the success of a business. These days everyone has an opinion – whether it’s on the plumber who fixed their leaky boiler, or the sandwich shop they get their lunch from – and they want to share with people in a similar situation to help them make a well-informed purchase decision.

It’s no surprise, then, that online reviews are one of the most effective word-of-mouth marketing and reputation-building tools for small businesses. Reviews have the potential to boost sales and also help identify areas for improvement. If you’re wondering if you’re making the most of online reviews, take a look at these top tips.

Claim your page

People are talking about your business online, whether or not you choose to acknowledge it.

The only way to ensure potential customers have the correct information and know all the best things your business offers is to create a profile.

You’d be surprised how many businesses have entries on review websites, but haven’t taken the time to do simple things like add their address or put up a picture. At Yelp, we did some research and found that people searching on Yelp spent two and a half times longer on a business page that had photos compared to those without.

It’s important to give people all the information they need to choose you over a competitor. Put your phone number on your profile, add descriptions and tell the story of how the business was set up. Think of it as an extension of your website; it’s a great way to shout about what you’re good at and encourage people to pay you a visit.

Respond

It’s not very often that someone will take the time to write about your business. When they do, you need to thank them at the very least. Everyone likes to know that there’s a real person behind a business – not some faceless company. Taking the time to show your appreciation is a great way to do this and also helps to build a rapport.

When responding, try to resist the urge to use the opportunity to upsell or plug other products, as it may annoy customers. With some review websites, such as Yelp, you can respond to customers privately – a great tool for answering specific questions or queries.

Take action

Every business owner knows that listening to customers is important, but customers expect you to take action in response to their comments. If they’re telling you something is good, do more of it. If something is upsetting customers, address it.

There may be times when you don’t agree with a customer’s review, but giving the impression that their comments have fallen on deaf ears will only lose you favour.

Take advantage of positive reviews

Positive reviews are marketing gold dust. If someone has decided to sing the praises of your business without being prompted, you need to share it. Include links to reviews on your website; add quotes to your sales materials; write it up on boards in your premises. Customers are always looking for proof points to reassure them about a business they’ve never tried before. Endorsement from like-minded customers will help build trust in your business.

Elliot Adams is communications manager at Yelp.

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