We’re living in the Age of Skepticism, where years of false promises and outright lies by marketers have left today’s consumer suspicious of any advertising claims or guarantees that are made on behalf of a business. Consumers have been burned so many times before, they are understandably mistrustful, and are increasingly wanting to know the scoop before they purchase big ticket items, like a luxury sports utility vehicle, right down to something small like a milkshake.
Everyone has seen websites that are packed with testimonials from happy customers. Perhaps your own website has a section dedicated to positive feedback. In fact, word-of-mouth can be the most influential marketing tool for a business. The problem is, website testimonials are junk, and your visitors don’t believe a word you’re saying. Many websites feature generic, obviously fake testimonials that are loaded with sales trigger words. And even if they are truly genuine, potential customers know that testimonials on your website have been handpicked by you, or someone else in your business.
Customers don’t want to hear what you think about your product or service, they want to hear what other people think about it. So if they aren’t reading product or service reviews on your website, where are they getting their information? The answer is everywhere. The number of external word-of-mouth websites have exploded over the years, and many of them are gaining popularity. Yelp.com is one of the most widely visited website, pulling in 17.5 million hits per month, with most of their visitors in the 18-44 demographic range. But Yelp isn’t the only one. Angie’s List, Amazon, Epinions, Consumer Reports, TripAdvisor – and there are many more. That is why reputation management online is so important.
Online review sites have the potential to make or break a business. A recent Bazaarvoice study found that 51% of people valued the opinions found in user-generated content more than the opinions of their friends and family. This is huge: the voice of random website users are respected and valued more highly than those of a person’s closest relationships. That is very good news for your business, because it gives you the ability to take an active role in generating and shaping those online reviews.
So how can your business capitalize on the enormous potential of online review sites? Utilizing these steps will ensure that your business is making the most of your reputation management online.
Increase your online review presence
Make sure your business has a presence on all of the major consumer review and social media websites. After all, if people are going to be having conversations about your business, shouldn’t you be a part of that conversation? Not only should you play an active role, you should be encouraging it. Ask customers to visit the review websites and leave a review! A large number of positive reviews will outweigh the occasional unsatisfied customer. Having reputation management online and a presence on the various review and social media websites also gives you the unique opportunity to set things right – and to show other potential customers that you care about their satisfaction. If someone leaves an unhappy review, respond to them and try to make it right. This will go a long way to win the trust of other prospective customers.
Create an email campaign dedicated to review generation
When a customer makes a purchase, be sure to get their email address and follow up with an email asking them to leave a review. Be sure to give them the option of several different review sites so that they can choose the one that they are most comfortable using. If you send out periodic newsletters, be sure to include your call-to-action in those emails too. Again, the more positive reviews you have, the greater amount of trust that potential customers will have in your business.
Website testimonials are a thing of the past. Today’s skeptical consumers want the option of someone they trust – other customers. By increasing your reputation management online and your presence on social media and review websites, you can play an active role in the discussion of your business, and facilitate trust for your business, which is critically important in the current marketplace.