We love being involved in the local marketing community because of all the tactical insights we gain from industry leaders and give to brand managers. This past week, we had the opportunity to join LSA Bootcamp in Portland, where our Director of Business Development Mike Bunnell spoke about monitoring online reviews and managing brand reputation. Here are the 4 questions Mike addressed during this presentation:
1- Why do I need reviews?
Simply put, acquiring and monitoring online reviews is one of the top local marketing strategies for national brands. When it comes to spreading the word about brands, nothing can be more influential than customer reviews. Reviews of any nature (good or bad) proves one thing about your brand-- the fact that it is open to suggestions and receptive to the criticisms of the audiences. Search engines like Google take to this so greatly into account because it proves that the brand has a digital presence that works in favor of customer opinion.
Getting more reviews is better than getting a small amount of great reviews. While this may sound counterintuitive, the logic behind it is solid. Ideally you would be getting large quantities of great reviews. But if you are getting bad reviews and actively working to improve these reviews, your customer opinion and quality of reviews will change over time anyway and reflect as such in search results.
Instead of spending part of your marketing budget towards generic market research, reviews can serve as a localized understanding of each of your local markets---take advantage of it.
2- How do I get reviews?
The issue is that, brands face the difficulty of actually acquiring any types of reviews in the first place. Since explicitly asking or soliciting reviews is a black-hat trick, here are a few kosher ways of bypassing this challenge:
Provide Great Service- Above all else, this is the most clear-cut way of ensuring that your customers are satisfied both online and offline. By consistently using existing reviews to develop your local service strategy, you can be sure that this will reflect in the way people speak of your brand to their online network of customers.
Don’t be pushy- We believe that the power of Local starts in a physical store location. Much like providing great service, physically including non-soliciting signage can encourage users to share their experience on review sites like Yelp and Foursquare. Whether you have one location or one thousand, it’s never the wrong time to ask “how did you find out about us?”.
3- How do I respond to negative reviews? Positive reviews?
To respond to negative reviews, there are three steps to take. First, acknowledge the comments that the customer made and apologize for any shortcomings on your brand’s end. Next, show them you understand their frustrations and clarify by offering a simple resolution for future purchases and customers who visit your locations. Finally, offer them resources to communicate to you directly offline. This is a critical step in ensuring that your biggest hater becomes your biggest brand advocate.
For positive reviews, the approach is a bit different. Scan industry-specific review sites to find interviews that bolster your brand’s reputation. Engage these good reviewers in conversation and reward this positive interaction with your appreciation or even promotions. These reviewers are important to consistently monitor because they have the power to influence other customers within their social circle.
4- Any alternatives to acquiring online reviews?
Keep in mind that when asking this question, any “alternatives” considered additions to acquiring online reviews, not replacements. One of the more common options to boosting virtual word of mouth is by encouraging customers to “check in” to your locations on Foursquare, Yelp, and Facebook. By encouraging your local customers to check-into your locations you’ll be rewarded with a presence on their social profiles which in turn spreads to their connections.
Another alternative to acquiring online reviews would be to create your own tips on Foursquare. Providing your own tips on your locations within Foursquare gives guidance for consumers researching your brand online. These tips can give them a reason to visit your location and motivate them to share their own tips and recommendations to others about your brand. Use these tips as “insider knowledge” that would make your future consumers experience more memorable. After all, you should know more about your location above anyone else.
The connected consumer of today wants to feel linked to the brands they are purchasing from. Infact, brands that are active on social media and engage with their consumers within their online reviews are perceived to be more trustworthy and in turn create a more loyal consumer base. To learn how your brand can create a deeper connection with local consumers while improving your visibility on search engines download our Enterprise Mobile-Social Guide.