Online Reviews Can Help With Small Business Marketing
Ever since Amazon starting using reviews, the idea of peer-to-peer recommendations has become an important and influential source of referrals for customers. Most of us have read the reviews about a company or product before buying, as it is a great way to learn about it before spending your own money. Small business owners can also benefit from reviews online, and it can be one of the best free marketing tools available. But there are rules, and if you don’t follow them, you can end up being banned from some review sites.
Google and other services will flag or remove reviews if they think they are bogus. Google’s review guidelines explain why:
“Reviews are only valuable when they are honest and unbiased … Don’t offer money or product to others to write reviews for your business or write negative reviews about a competitor. We also discourage specialized review stations or kiosks set up at your place of business for the sole purpose of soliciting reviews.”
Don’t Offer an Incentive. If you give your customers a gift, a discount or something else in exchange for the review, that’s a paid endorsement. Not only will it cause your reviews to be blocked by search engines, but it also violates the Federal Trade Commission’s Guidelines.
Don’t Create a Review Template. Business owners want to make it easy for their clients to write a review, and customers or clients appreciate a shortcut. But if you give them a form to fill out to make reviews easier, the services will catch that. It is not hard to spot reviews that have the same format. Resist the temptation to hand out a pre-written review to customers, even if they ask.
Don’t ask your clients to remove a bad review. Even if you fix the issue or resolve the problem, the review sites will see that as review manipulation. While you can’t pay for a positive review, you also can’t pay or give an incentive to remove a bad one.
Don’t ask for reviews from your location. Reviews will incorporate the IP address, which is tracked by the review sites. It will show that they all came from the same place, and that’s a red flag for review sites.
Don’t ask clients to write reviews all at the same time. If several reviews come in during a short period of time, it will be a red flag for the review sites. A slow, steady trend of reviews over time is a better strategy than all at once.
Things To DO:
Do Report Fake Reviews. Rev
iews that violate the policies of the review site will be removed. If you suspect a competitor or former employee is behind the posting, you can report it and it may be removed.
Do Encourage Your Customers To Give Reviews. After the work is completed, it is a good idea to remind clients that you appreciate their honest reviews on Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, Facebook, etc.
Follow Up After The Sale With A Reminder. If you regularly send out customer surveys, include a reminder about posting a review of your services. For example, “please visit us on Facebook or Google and leave a review so others will know about your experience.”
Ask For Reviews on Social Media. Google+ and Facebook have convenient ways for customers to leave a review, so occasionally post a request for a review.