First things first, SEO = Search Engine Optimization. If you haven’t heard of it, you probably don’t have an SEO strategy. However, if you run any sort of business then you need one and it needs to include online reviews.
Did you know that 90 percent of customers bought a product online based on a positive review? It makes sense if you think about it; would you really part with your money if you had only seen a picture of a product online? Of course, you wouldn’t. Online reviews add credibility to your product/ service and also give customers the reassurance that they are not about to waste their money on a pile of rubbish.

Online reviews are one of the most effective ways of driving up the search engine optimization of your business.

How to implement a reviewing system…

There are many ways you can include online reviews on your website. It can simply be a ‘like’ function in a similar way to Facebook. You could also include a comments section or a rating system using stars or whatever is most appropriate for your business.

If you’re a small business, invite reviews through your Facebook page. It is quick, simple and there is a fabulous invention that Facebook allows through its privacy settings called ‘timeline review’ which allows you to monitor which posts make it to your timeline.
A good review can be the tagline to your next marketing campaign. I noticed a sign outside a small retail shop in Oxford reading ‘The BEST independent store in town’. The source was a customer – the most valuable type of person to enter that shop and the type of person that will determine if that shop survives.


When to ask for a review…

One of the cleverest things that Amazon’s Kindle does is it instantly asks for a review of a book after you’ve reached the final page. At that point, ‘the usage’ of the eBook is done — the point of which the reader will feel most or least satisfied.

Send your customers an e-mail after their purchase or generate a page that automatically asks for a review after the confirmation of purchase. Offer them 10 percent off their next purchase if they leave a review. Give them an incentive to tell you what they think of your product or service or procedure.

How to beat the competition…

Comparison websites are a great way to use your reviews to your advantage. Being included on a comparison website is a great way to drum up business particularly if you’re a service. For example, take GoCompare – a one-stop, comparison shop for all of your major needs. This website is built on comparing prices of products and services against one another. People often look for the cheapest deal, hence why it is where people will look first.
However, by being featured on a website that gives reviews of companies, you get customer based comparisons based on the quality of their experience as opposed to price. This means that small companies that are not built on ‘mass production and cheap pricing’ will not lose out.

Should you be worried about bad reviews?

In short, yes. Especially if your reviews are on a platform other than your website (e.g. Facebook or comparison websites). However, if you provide a good quality product or service then you should not have anything to worry about.
It is worth, however, thinking about a backup plan if you are faced with a bad review. If I ever have a complaint, I am far more likely to put it on social media because it is where more people are likely to see it. It is also most likely to prompt a response from the place I’m complaining to.

The best ways to deal with negativity:
1. Always apologize – Whether or not it is your fault, the customer is always right and if they’ve felt disgruntled enough to write a complaint, then it is worth defusing the bomb before it goes off.

2. Offer some sort of concession as an apology. A $5 off voucher, 25 percent their next order or simply a cheap freebie.

3. Learn from your mistakes. Sometimes a customer’s complaint is valid. They’ve had a bad experience and they feel ripped off. I imagine that is not the experience you wanted to create when you started your business.
Find out where it went wrong and implement a process to change it in future.

Stack up the reviews…

Once you have a range of reviews, look for an opportunity to use them to your advantage. Create some statistics. Paraphrase some quotes and work out where you can use them in your marketing campaign. It could be the new tagline to your header on your website or could be used in your next print marketing campaign.
If you’re struggling to get reviews, perhaps consider running a social media competition and offer a prize. You can even manipulate the results by asking your customers to ‘tell us what you [they] love’ about your product or service.

This way you will have maybe 100 quotes from customers saying ‘I love… because…’. What a great way to collect data and also collect lots of quotes to use in the future.

If you have faith in your product/ service and know you offer your customer’s quality and value, implementing online reviews will be a great way to not only gain customers but to become far more visible through the search engines.