The Power of Online Reviews
by Andy Curry
“You must commit to getting five star reviews every time. Four stars is pretty good, but COMMIT to getting five!”
If you were given just one way to market to your customers, what would it be? Flyers? Newspaper ads? Google adwords? TV, radio, social media? If I only had one option, I would not pick any of those. They are good options—but not if I could pick only one.
A good marketing tactic has to be effective. It has to be inexpensive. It has to affect a lot of people, and it has to work 24/7—you don’t want it going in the trash five minutes after they see it like a newspaper ad or a flyer.
There is a tactic that fits these criteria. When I tell business owners about it, they are waiting for some magical secret that almost no one else has heard of. I sometimes hear, “Oh, that…” from them. However, I am shocked at the number of business owners that don’t milk this tactic for all it’s worth. That said, let me explain the power of this gold nugget.
The tactic I am referring to is…ta daa!…online reviews. Before you roll your eyes or think you are maximizing their effectiveness, consider the following: how often have you searched for something online and used reviews to sway your decision to buy—or not? I do it often. If the business or product I am considering has a great set of reviews, and lots of them, that will usually be the tipping point of me saying “yes” to that business. On the other hand, if they don’t have many reviews or if their reviews are mediocre, I will probably not do business with them. I will look for a business with more and better reviews.
Think of it like this: if you have a lot of reviews that are good, and more and more keep piling up, you have a small army of enthusiastic people telling their friends, acquaintances, and strangers how wonderful it is to do business with you. This army works for you 24/7 without fail. You already know how powerful word-of-mouth is. This is word-of-mouth on steroids. It’s free. (Thank you, Google!) It never goes away. It also has another powerful benefit you might not know about. I’ll explain that shortly.
Time to Review your Reviews
Are you on top of your online reviews? Do you know what your competitors’ reviews look like? Are they beating you by a mile or is it the other way around? I dare you to check yours now and compare it to competitors. Knowing what you know now, you will either be frightened, excited, or both.
If your reviews are mediocre, it is time to step up. You have not delivered what your customers expected and you therefore did not meet your own expectations. You must commit to getting five-star reviews every time. Anything less is unacceptable. Four-stars is pretty good, but commit to getting five.
You see, no matter what you do, you will get bad reviews. They come from competitors trying to hurt you, bad apple customers who want their 15 minutes of fame, or even from a good customer you inadvertently rubbed the wrong way The good news is that fraudulent competitor reviews and bad apple consumers aren’t occurring all the time, and while there are proven ways to deal with these, the best policy is committing to getting five-star reviews. Unfortunately, every negative review you get takes at least ten or more positive reviews to offset it. As customers see your overall rating, they can tell instantly if they should do business with you or your competitor. That is both a frightening and exciting thought— it depends on your online rating.
I urge you to set up a system to constantly get customers reviewing your business online. This means that every customer that comes in should be reviewing you. Set up a computer in the store specifically for that purpose. Some will use it to review you, some won’t. Some will use their cell phones to do it, some won’t. Your task is to keep hammering away and keep asking because that is what people will be looking at online.
Keep Five Alive
“I urge you to set up a system to get customers reviewing your business.”
Here is a caveat. You obviously do not want a customer leaving you a bad review. If you ask the customer to leave a review and it’s not at least four-stars, you do not want that exposed to the online world. There are ways to prevent that, including automated systems to handle all this for you behind the scenes.
Some of these systems can even divert a bad review from showing, however, Google recently changed its terms and basically said, “Thou shalt not gate reviews.” This means you are not allowed to keep bad reviews from showing, which Google calls “review gating.” There are those who do it anyway, thinking Google is none the wiser, and those who believe opposite. What would happen if Google figured out you were diverting negative reviews? No one seems to know just yet, but I suspect they will remove many, most or all your good reviews. Wouldn’t that be a shocker!
What I urge you to do is ask the customer in the middle of the sale how they would rate you? If you get an answer of five stars, then be proactive and get their online opinion before they leave. That doesn’t violate Google’s terms and even if it did, they could not possibly know about it.
Earlier, I mentioned there is an extra big benefit to getting lots of good reviews besides the powerful word-of-mouth that comes from it. You see, Google likes to show positive information over non-positive information because people are looking for positive information. The more positive information there is about you, the more visible Google will make you.
This means, all things equal, you will be seen more on the internet than competitors, which translates into more sales. This is yet another great reason to commit to five-star reviews. If your reviews are not as good as your competitors, they have a significant advantage over you as far as the internet goes. Don’t let them. Take charge of your online reputation and create an army of enthusiastic customers who will happily tell the world to do business with you!
Andy Curry, the Cheap-Marketing Champion, is a small business marketing specialist, app developer and entrepreneur. He believes in inexpensive but effective marketing and getting a big bang for your marketing buck. Andy has owned and operated a True Value Hardware store for many years, and has in-the-trenches, first-hand knowledge of the pitfalls of marketing and the best use of advertising dollars.