Small Business Marketing Tips: Navigating The World Of Online Reviews

Joe GalottiJuly 6th, 2020

These days, online reviews truly can make or break your business, and that’s no hyperbole. What people say about your company on Google, Yelp and other online review platforms is something you need to be paying close attention to. If you don’t, you’ll scare countless new leads away, and stand to lose out on a ton of money. In this small business marketing tips blog post, we’ll explain why online reviews carry increased value in the digital age, how to make review platforms work in your favor and what to do if you already have a high number of poor reviews.

Why Should You Care About Online Reviews?

The internet has changed everything. When people hear about your business for the first time, they will almost always end up searching your company online and checking out its online reviews. The information that exists on your company’s review pages will often determine whether a new lead actually goes through with reaching out to your business or determines that you’re too much of a gamble to waste time with.

According to data from Bright Local, 91% of consumers between the age of 18 to 34 will trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Most modern day consumers trust the opinions of their peers over anything an unfamiliar business has to say. Even the most brilliant marketing campaigns can be foiled by thoughts from a few disgruntled former customers. All of the time and money you invest in advertising for your business, will quickly go down the drain, all because a few people found you to be rude or difficult to work with.

There’s simply no running away from your online reviews. Even if you do a large portion of your marketing offline, most consumers will still take the time to research you online before becoming a paying customer. The only way to run a successful company these days is to stay highly engaged in the online review world.

How To Manage Your Online Reputation

Monitoring your online reputation can cause a lot of unneeded stress for business owners, knowing that at any moment a scathing one-star review can come in that will scare off numerous future customers. The good news is that you do have some control over the situation. If you provide your customers with a high level of service, and make your customers consistently feel heard and cared for, you’ll be able to keep damaging online reviews to a minimum.

One of the biggest areas in which small businesses tend to struggle is providing quality customer service over the phone. Frequently sending callers to voicemail and rushing through calls you do answer can rub people the wrong way, and severely impact the way they view your business. Being rude, abrupt or hard to reach on the phone is a signal to customers that their needs simply aren’t very important to you.

One of the best ways to keep your company’s reputation intact, is to team up with a 24/7 live answering service like Ring Savvy. Our virtual receptionist team can pick up any calls you and your staff can’t get to, and will always be there to give your customers a live caring voice to engage with. We also provide additional services, such as bilingual phone answeringadvanced message takingfull customer intake, and appointment scheduling, which will assist you in providing a higher level of customer service.

Of course, just preventing negative reviews is only half the battle when it comes to online reputation management. Having not enough reviews can be just as damaging to a company.

Bright Local research reveals that, on average, consumers require a business to have 40 online reviews before they start believing its average star rating.

So what can you do to make sure your 40+ customer reviews are overwhelmingly positive?

  • Call up or email former customers that you have a great relationship with, and see if they would be willing to review your business.
  • Invest in an online reputation management software, to help you accumulate more five-star reviews. See G2's list of best options here.
  • Go above and beyond in making your existing customers love you. Make people lifelong fans of your company by giving them social media pages to engage with, blog and video content to follow, newsletters to subscribe to and exciting contests to take part in.

The above information should serve as a helpful blueprint for newer companies looking to establish an online presence. But, what about companies who already have a lot of negative online reviews?

If Your Online Reputation Is A Mess, You Have Work To Do

We won’t lie to you, overcoming a significant number of poor online reviews is going to be a real headache. However making repairs to your online reputation is far from impossible, and it is absolutely worth the time and effort. The first thing you’ll want to do is to follow the above advice and keep your online reputation from getting more out of hand. Next you’ll want to see if any of your existing one or two star reviews can be either taken down or changed.

Every online review situation will need to be handled differently. In some cases, reaching out to a customer that posted a negative review, and offering an apology or explanation for the events that lead to the review, will be enough for the person to reconsider their public stance on your company. Always go this route when possible, as having poor reviews taken down or changed is truly your best case scenario.

In situations where you know a disgruntled customer cannot be reasoned with, you’ll want to put together a public response to their review. You won’t be doing this for the customer, as that relationship is likely unsalvageable at this point. This response will be for prospective customers who are looking over your reviews. By publicly responding to negative feedback, you’ll be given an opportunity to tell your side of the story, and explain why things unfolded the way they did with your customer. People always appreciate transparency from companies, and offering a measured, polite and fact-based response to a review can do a lot of damage control.

The other thing you can do to overcome a poor online reputation, is to drown out your bad reviews with lots of positive ones. Consumers will be much more understanding of one or two star reviews, if they see them surrounded by glowing recommendations from other people who used your business. If your overall star rating is high, people will usually come to the conclusion that the negative reviews they see are more outliers, and don’t provide an honest overview of what it’s like using your company.

Want more small business marketing tips? Learn how to create more engaging social media content here!

To learn more about Ring Savvy’s virtual receptionist service, check out this blog post or call us at 631-600-1100.