With more and more people shopping for products and services online, reviews are becoming an increasingly important part of consumers’ shopping experiences. Sites such as Trustpilot allow people to leave their thoughts about the websites they’ve purchased from, and it’s these reviews that can influence other shoppers.
It’s clear, then, that managing your online reputation is important for the success of your business. In this article, we’ll be looking at the truth about online reviews and examining some of the ways you can take control of your online reputation.
Online Reviews: The Good and the Bad
Reviews that your business receives online can have a huge impact, and it’s been shown that people put a lot of value in what other shoppers have experienced. Having a review section on your website generates a sense of trust – but a lot of shoppers will look to independent review sites as well. Around 82% of people agree that they find reviews extremely valuable, and 96% of retailers have found that honest reviews can build their business.
The downside of reviews, of course, is that negative reviews have a negative effect on your business. Get a lot of negative reviews and you could find yourself in trouble. That is why it’s important that you manage your online reputation by resolving complaints and queries rapidly so as to reduce the chances of receiving a negative review.
How Do Reviews Impact Your Business?
In addition to the obvious impact on direct sales as a result of positive reviews (or reduced sales due to negative reviews), there are other ways your business can be affected by reviews. Let’s take a look at some of them:
1. Having reviews on your website can increase your page views, as people conduct research.
2. Having positive reviews increases your product’s value in the eyes of your customers, meaning you can charge more than competitors with poor reviews. Research shows that people are willing to pay up to 99% more, in fact, for products that have excellent reviews and ratings.
3. Having positive reviews can increase your conversion rate by up to 74%; the biggest increase is usually within the first 30 days of receiving a really positive review.
Fake Review Problems
Just like the fake news phenomenon, there is also the fake review phenomenon, and consumers are becoming increasingly good at spotting the difference. Although it might be tempting to try to boost your business by posting fake reviews on social media, this strategy can land you in trouble – not only will your customers recognise the fake reviews, but you’re also risking being fined if trading standards find out that you’ve been posting or paying people to leave fake reviews.
Managing Your Reputation Online
Online reputation management (ORM) is important for your business both in the long-term and short-term. The crux of ORM is preventing negative reviews – as well as dealing with negative press when it happens. There are a number of aspects to a successful ORM strategy that you need to understand.
1. Create a Good First Impression
Although your website is the equivalent of the shop window online, it’s not the only means of creating a good first impression. You can ensure that your potential customer has a positive experience (which contributes to positive reviews further down the line) by responding quickly and courteously to all enquiries, whether those come in via social media or a contact form on your website. Social media sites such as Facebook display a ‘response time’ on your business page, which can influence your audience, too.
2. Be Honest About Your Products and Services
It can be tempting to over-inflate your USP in order to try to attract more customers, but this is actually counterproductive. If you promise something that your product or service cannot deliver on, you’re going to end up with dissatisfied, unhappy customers – who will feel cheated, and be likely to leave negative reviews.
3. Keep Track of What People Are Saying About You
You can use tools such as Mention.net and Google Alerts so that you know what your customers are saying about your business. This means that if negative comments pop up, you can reach out to the dissatisfied customer and try to resolve the issue.
4. Don’t Get Drawn into Debates
There’s a downside to keeping track of what’s being said about your business, though. It can be tempting to respond publicly to comments that are untrue and get drawn into unpleasant debates. This creates a bad impression for other customers, so before you respond in any way, think about the impact it could have on your business.
5. Meet Your Customer’s Needs and Expectations
If you know your audience, their problems, needs, expectations and desires, you’re in a much better position to be able to meet those needs and give them what they want. Failure to understand your audience can lead to problems, such as miscommunication and dissatisfaction with your company (and consequently negative reviews).
6. Be Transparent
Honesty is always the best option when you’re looking to manage your online reputation. Your customers will appreciate and trust your business more if you operate with transparency. A lack of transparency, on the other hand, can have a long-term negative impact that is hard to shake. Trust, once broken, is hard to restore.
Your online reputation is one of the key aspects to being successful in business. The way that people talk about your business, sometimes known as social proof, can be the difference between success and failure, in fact, so ORM is something that cannot be ignored. You will (unless you’re incredibly lucky) receive some negative reviews, but often the damage can be undone if you are able to reach out to the dissatisfied customer and try to find a resolution.
Never run the risk of either writing or paying for fake reviews for your business as this will almost inevitably backfire on you at some point. Instead, focus on building trust and a positive online reputation that can give your business a fast track to success.