Customer reviews can make or break the online reputation of a company. Reviews on sites like Yelp, Google+ and local business directories have a huge impact on consumer purchase decisions and how they perceive a brand.
According to a detailed study by Invesp, almost 90% customers in the United States read online reviews, while 88% of people trust reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Thousands of reviews, mostly negative, about local and international businesses are posted on the web every day. Many companies involved in unethical practices hire freelancers to create fake negative reviews to undermine the credibility of their competitors.
This is why it’s important for businesses to take control of their online reviews and manage them effectively.
Online review management is a core part of online reputation management (ORM). It’s a reputation management practice that involves identification of relevant review platforms; close monitoring of online reviews; and various strategies and techniques to maximize positive reviews and counter negative ones.
Because of the large number of online reviews posted every day on the internet, online review management is done using a combination of smart automation and manual activities by skilled reputation management professionals.
In general, the overall activities performed by an online review management team can be divided into three broad categories.
Here’s a quick look at each one of them.
Thousands of reviews are posted everyday on sites like Google+, Yelp, Twitter, Foursquare, Yellow Pages, etc. Manually monitoring these sites for any negative reviews on a regular basis is almost impossible. This is why professional ORM companies, like ReputationX, use a combination of automation and manual monitoring. An automated review monitoring system sends alerts whenever a brand is mentioned on a review site or anywhere on the web. The manual review team can then take over and devise an action plan to counter the review.
Here are some free but powerful ways brands can monitor online reviews
Setting up Google alerts is the best way to get notified about new content on the web, including online reviews.
Once an alert has been set up, Google sends an email to the registered user whenever a new piece of content is indexed in its search results.
Many customers share reviews on social media platforms like Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. Monitoring these platforms with tools like Hootsuite or TweetDeck can be helpful in identifying new reviews.
Apart from mainstream review sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, Google My Business, etc., there are dozens of niche-specific review sites in every industry. These are best monitored through professional review management companies since they require a lot of time and effort.
After closely monitoring online reviews, a professional reputation company would analyze them in detail and develop a strategy to generate more positive reviews and minimize the negative ones.
Generating positive online reviews is an art that many businesses struggle to master. Instead of buying fake reviews or forcing customers to leave reviews, the right approach is to make review generation a part of the business experience.
Instead of directly asking customers, smart review management experts generate reviews by encouraging consumers and making them feel a part of an exclusive group.
There are also several automated ways to generate customer reviews using smart reminders. For example, for an invoicing system, review requests can be tied directly by sending thank-you correspondence designed to automatically draw good reviews to Google Plus, Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter. These systems make reviews a part of the company's marketing campaigns and regular communication by using links to review profiles on prominent places like company websites and email signatures.
Removing negative reviews is a time-consuming activity. Every review site has its own policies about negative review removal. However, professional review management companies have dedicated teams that analyze negative reviews and get them removed if they violate the policies of the review site.
And even if a review site declines the removal request, negative reviews can be effectively countered by generating more positive reviews. This also makes the review profile look natural.
Here are some of the best practices to follow while managing online reviews
Online reviews have a major impact on a brand’s reputation. This is why it’s important to have a comprehensive review management strategy that generates positive reviews and effectively counters negative reviews.