Do any of these statements sound familiar?
Someone from Angie's list ranted about how Robert, one of our HVAC technicians, came in half an hour late for the scheduled repair.
A diner complained about how our bestselling sushi was not warm when it was served.
Who are these people posting 1-star ratings on our Facebook page?!
Behind those statements, there are truths that other customers do not know. Robert came in late because he had trouble finding the customer's location due to an incomplete address that was provided. Sushi is meant to be served at room temperature. And those 1-star Facebook ratings are fake.
Whether through direct search or social media searches, millions of people type in reviews of (insert your product's name here) every day. With this fact, brands suddenly realize that there is no better time for them to take control of their online reputation than today.
Online Reviews Make or Break Your Brand
Online reviews are a double-edged sword. A rating can either make or break your brand. These numbers from reliable folks don't lie:
- There are approximately 9 in every 10 consumers who read online reviews to find out the quality of your brand's services, with 39 percent of these consumers going through reviews on a regular basis.
- 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews than personal recommendations.
- 67.7 percent of customers admitted that online reviews influence their purchasing decisions.
- Reevoo estimated that having reviews result to roughly an 18 percent increase in sales.
Not All Reviews Are Created Equal
Century Hearing Aids, an eCommerce website, increased their conversions by 220 percent in 4 months. This was accomplished by introducing tiny yet highly impactful changes on their website. Adding reviews is one of these.
On the flip side, not all reviews are created equal. This is what Amazon learned after finding out about fake customer reviews. This is why they're suing more than a thousand people behind these unfair reviews. Many of these reviews were speculated to have been paid for by account holders posting the gigs on Fiverr. Yelp wasn't exempted from the bogus reviews too.
Find out about the best way to deal with irrational customers.
Long's Jewelers' Crushing Story
In the screenshot above, a disheartened Lynelle Schmidt asked for help and second opinions on Inbound.Org when one of her clients, Long's Jewelers in Boston, got fake 100 1-star reviews in, as Schmidt wrote -- just a span of few minutes.
"We went from a gleaming 5-star reputation to just barely over two stars," Schmidt explained.
The reaction from fellow marketers went from a mix of shock to disgust to encouragement that she should get in touch with Facebook as soon as possible. It turns out that it was incredibly difficult to convince the social media giant in removing the bogus ratings.
"I was even more upset when I went to try to contact Facebook to remedy the issue. Not only did they never answer us, but we also had to go through some serious back channels to even get them to respond. And that response was - no, there is nothing we can do for you," Schmidt lamented.
Nearly two weeks later, Schmidt updated that Facebook already agreed to take the fake profiles down and re-evaluate the fake ratings. She also listed down the lessons she learned following the ruckus.
The takeaways of their unfortunate experience, Schmidt reflected, was how it was obviously clear that Facebook's rating system (and those other third-party sites) is appallingly flawed. Next, these third-party sites may not be able to take action right away (time is money!). This is why taking matters on your own hands is your best bet. Lastly, ratings and reviews on third-party sites are vulnerable venues on the Internet used to destroy a brand's reputation.
Allen Adamson, the author of Brand Digital, said it best:
It used to be said that a brand was was people said about you when you wen't in a room. These days a brand is what's said when you're not online.
Review Management as Part of Your Content Strategy
Whether you have customer reviews on your website (highly recommended!) or through third-party websites, regular review management should be an integral part of your content strategy.
Why are we talking about content strategy now? Isn't this concept supposed to talk about blogs, podcasts, and videos?
In her book, Content Strategy for the Web, elite content strategist Kristina Halvorson explains what great content is all about:
Great content meets users' needs and supports key business objectives. It engages and informs. It's well-written and intuitively organized. It keeps people coming back for more.
There you have it. Online reviews are all of the above too -- it engages and informs your prospects or customers. Therefore, it should be clearly written, relevant, and easy to spot. In fact, Amazon has been doing this for years.
UX expert Jared Spool explained how Amazon subtly bumps the top of three helpful reviews on top for the shoppers to have a balanced perspective. It didn't matter whether it was positive or negative as long as the users found it helpful by answering the Was This Review Helpful to You? question.
And it is literally a billion dollar question! This tiny tweak, according to Spool, was primarily responsible for Amazon's $2.7 billion of revenue each year since it was implemented.
Reviews as a Tool, Not a Liability
With your marketing and sales driven by a customer-centric inbound methodology, you should not be worried about a sudden influx of genuinely negative reviews on third-party websites in minutes. What you should be focusing on is how you can consistently attract high-quality reviews, and manage them in a way that will increase customer engagement and conversion.
Put simply, use reviews as a tool rather than a liability. Have you checked your third-party brand reviews lately?