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Online Reviews Can Help Increase Your Digital Footprint and Provide Value

March 5th, 2015

Many business owners focus on promoting their brand through their own company website and social media channels. These are valuable mediums to convey your message and gain customers. They are also under your control. But a brand’s online presence often encompasses more than those controlled channels.

As an example, you’ve probably enjoyed dining at a new restaurant from time to time. Before making that reservation, what research did you do? You probably looked at the restaurant’s website and the menu to see if the cuisine would suit your palate. Maybe you looked at their social media pages to locate the hours of operation, or to see if they offer happy hour.

You may have also looked at websites such as Yelp.com or Urbanspoon.com to see what others were saying. You just used online reviews to scope out the perceived reputation of the restaurant. These outside party online reviews are incredibly important and impactful to a business. Let’s delve a little more into why.

Why are online reviews important?

  • As shown in our example with the new restaurant, online reviews are important because an overwhelming proportion of consumers use online reviews to make their choices.
  • In the case of companies selling a tangible product, as opposed to a service, online reviews are even more paramount. In fact, 70 percent of global consumers say online reviews are their second-most trusted source of information and messaging for a brand, according to a 2012 study by Nielson, a global company specializing in providing insights and data on media consumers.
  • Online reviews weigh heavily with search engine optimization (aka. SEO) ranking and in return, your online presence. When a person types in the name of your business into a search engine they will receive a list of the most relevant search results for that name. If you have already worked with a trusted SEO partner, your website should come up first, followed by your social media channels, and outside channels.

 
How do you get online reviews?

  • Now that we understand the value of online reviews, how do you get them? Simple. Ask clients, customers, employees, contractors, or professionals that you work with if they will provide an online review of your company or service. A personalized email works well with links to the social media websites where an online review can be written.
  • The location of the online review can vary depending on the type of business you are in, but examples include Google+, Yelp.com, Foursquare and Facebook.
  • Never write your own online review. This is unethical and you do not want to compromise your personal integrity or the integrity of your business. Also, do not pay others to write an online review for the same reason. You want your company online reviews to be honest and from real customers.
  • Lastly, if you ask for an online review and someone does write one for you, tell the person you appreciate them going the extra mile to vouch for your business. Also, if you are a satisfied customer of their business, think about returning the favor as a way to say thank you.

 
Tips for promoting positive online reviews and testimonials

  • Once you have a few positive online reviews in place, you can promote these online reviews to help build awareness and trust of your business brand. Link to the online reviews on your social media channels, include the online review in your company email newsletter, or post a portion of an online review on your company website under a “testimonials” page.

 
How do you mitigate negative online reviews?

  • Keep negative online reviews offline if possible. Proactivity is key in trying to prevent these negative online reviews from being posted in the first place, according to Reputation.com. You can do this by offering a visible suggestion box on your website, by sending follow up surveys to your clients after you work with them and by quickly addressing and resolving any complaints.
  • If you address the complaint online, keep it short and simple. Inform the client you will be in touch to address their concerns. When possible, respond and keep the conversation going offline – not online.

 
Branding your company and maintaining a positive brand reputation is an ongoing and time-consuming process and at Palicor Communications we understand the importance of branding and reputation. We offer everything you need to become a great online business.



Written by: Carol Palichleb

President and Chief Information Officer,
Palicor Communications



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