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How Online Reviews Can Impact Your Brand’s Digital Footprint

When you are looking to buy a new product or service, how do you decide which one is the best choice for you? If you are like most people, you search online to identify your options and then narrow those options down based on the reviews left by other customers. In recent years, the importance of online reviews has continued to grow, and it is imperative that businesses take the impact of customer reviews (or lack thereof) into consideration when assessing their overall marketing strategy. Having a variety of positive, quality reviews not only bolsters the legitimacy of your product or service, but it can also boost your organic search rankings and provide your business with firsthand testimonials to use in your marketing efforts.

Creating Legitimacy for Your Brand

Many businesses promise big results and impressive impact with their product or service, but in reality these are empty promises until a customer actually buys and uses the product or service with success. Do you promise to wow your customers with your carpet cleaning business? Well, until you have someone raving about how impressed they were with your service, then you do not have proof of your claims. Many consumers approach the market with a skeptical eye, adopting an “I’ll believe it when I see it” mentality, and this can work against businesses as they try to convince consumers to do business with them. Here is where online reviews can make a huge impact. Real, honest reviews from customers provide the feedback that cynical shoppers need when choosing between brands. In highly competitive industries, a wealth of positive online reviews could make the difference between a customer choosing you or opting to do business with your competitor. It goes without saying that reviews should be from real consumers who have used your product. Posting or encouraging fake reviews can reverse any positive momentum your brand has in the marketplace in an instant.

Bolstering Your Organic Ranking

For many businesses, organic rankings feel like a black box. Owners know that they need to rank high online, but doing so may seem expensive and nearly impossible to pull off. Once again, this is where online reviews from customers can help. Having reviews across various platforms means your product can pop up on various sites when people enter specific keywords. This in turn helps increase your overall organic ranking. Maybe you ask customers to review your business on Google and Facebook. Or maybe you encourage customers to leave feedback on Yelp and local neighborhood apps such as Nextdoor. If you are selling your product on Amazon, reviews should be automatically requested for anyone who purchases your product. Nearly everyone recognizes the behemoth that Amazon has become over the last several decades, and anyone who has visited the site has likely seen the star ratings and reviews that accompany each listing. This is a fantastic way to showcase your product and accumulate reviews because the platform itself (Amazon) already encourages users to leave reviews. The more reviews you can get across various platforms, the more opportunities your product or service has to appear in search engines when consumers look for a product or service within your genre.

Using Reviews in Your Marketing

It is important for businesses to generate online reviews in order to boost brand legitimacy as well as organic rankings, but these reviews don’t necessarily need to remain on the review sites alone. Online reviews can be used in other forms of marketing as well, such as print mailers, email blasts and social media posts, assuming the business has obtained any necessary approvals to use the review. By using these reviews in other marketing mediums, the business can continue to build on the legitimacy of the brand and encourage consumers to learn more by searching for their product or service online. Any strong marketing strategy should build synergy between different marketing channels, and utilizing online reviews as customer testimonials is one way to do so.

Online reviews should be from actual customers who have not been paid or otherwise bribed to leave feedback, and of course that means your product or service must be a quality one that does not invite negative comments. Negative reviews can delegitimize a business just as fast as positive reviews can legitimize one. An occasional mediocre or negative review is ok, and in some instances, it proves to the reader that the reviews are from real people. No product or service can please everyone, and the response of the business to negative/mediocre reviews often matters more than the review itself. To learn more about dealing with fake or negative feedback, click here for an article from the SEO marketing powerhouse MOZ.

It is also important to explain to your customers the different guidelines and processes for posting feedback. Most platforms have strict rules for leaving reviews, so it is important to explain to your consumers how to go about leaving one. You work hard to earn the feedback, so you want to make sure the customer comments actually appear on the site. Follow the links below to find more information on the review policies for three of the top consumer sites.

Amazon Review Policies

Facebook Review Policies

Yelp Review Policies

Feeling overwhelmed at the idea of asking customers for reviews? There are also companies that specialize in gathering reviews on behalf of their clients, such as GatherUp or Signpost. In addition, countless sites offer strategies and advice for companies looking to boost their customer feedback online, and links to several such articles are listed below.

Beginning a Review Strategy

Overview of Local Review Platforms

Google Reviews and Selective Feedback

Online reviews play a huge role in the shopping habits of today’s consumer, and businesses that ignore the impact of these reviews may be left behind. Positive customer feedback gives potential consumers proof of the quality of your product or service, has a positive impact on your organic rankings and gives you ready-made testimonials to use in all facets of your marketing. Need help generating these positive reviews that can boost your business? Reach out to Jennasis today to learn how our outstanding team of marketing professionals can give your business a leg up in the market.

Tracie is a marketing consultant with a passion for helping companies reach their goals. With experience in a variety of marketing avenues, her strengths lie in marketing strategy and management. She is currently getting her MBA at Capital University and hopes to run her own business someday. Fun Facts: she is a vegetarian, loves to bake, and likes hiking state parks in the warmer months.

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