A 2017 Bright Local Study discovered that 97% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses and 85% of those consumers trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation. Keeping this in mind, how do you factor in the value of reviews for your retail business?
As a business owner, online reviews can be extremely helpful in gauging the sentiment of your customer base as well as identifying trends and other insight helpful for your business. But like all things in the consumer marketplace, reviews evolve over time and as a result, business owners must keep up. Among the questions to ask yourself include:
- How can you get ahead of the online review curve?
- What can you do to set yourself apart among other reviews?
- How can you use online reviews to grow your business?
- What else can you benefit from by understanding reviews better?
To help explore these questions and more, consider the following:
Respond to Your Customer Reviews
Yelp’s Data Science team found that Yelp users are 33% more likely to upgrade their review if a business responds with a personalized message within a day. The same study also found that businesses that respond to reviews see a 5% increase in review count. Added bonus: This increase in review volume helps attract organic traffic to business pages on Yelp. That means the potential of customers looking at your business when they search for a good or a service they need is strong – something too valuable to ignore.
Responding to reviews is a great way to humanize the exchange with your customer, but it’s also a marketing tactic for your business and allows you to share more information with potential customers. On Yelp, responding to reviews is free and easy. Just log into your Business User Account at biz.yelp.com and go from there. In return? Gain more visibility for your brand. But don’t stop there. You will want to ensure your review responses are working for you and not against you? But how do you do that? Let’s break it down:
The Positive Review: Respond! These customers took time out of their day to give you positive feedback online. Sending a direct message is a fast and effective way to let those happy customers know you appreciate their feedback and their business. Responding publicly to all of your five star reviews isn’t necessary, but an occasional public “thanks” let’s potential customers know that you care and pay attention to your feedback.
The Negative Review: Take this as an opportunity to grow. Critical reviews can sting, but successful business owners remain calm, cool, and collected. If you need to give yourself a few hours to cool off, feel free! Then it’s time to respond and outline a plan to fix the situation.
- Respond directly to the reviewer using the direct message feature. Try to dig in and get more information about what happened. Thank them for reaching out and give them a way to communicate with you offline to get the situation resolved.
- Post a public response while you wait to hear back from the reviewer directly. You can always update or edit your public response later. Thank the reviewer for their feedback, outline steps you have taken to resolve the issue, and urge them to contact you to talk further about what happened. Your thoughtful response shows that you value feedback and want your customers experience to be exceptional. Even if the reviewer never responds, this allows you to showcase your business practices to all of your future customers.
These steps are important for how to respond to your customers once they’ve left you a review, but how do you build up your online reputation in the first place?
Generate Review Content Naturally
It may surprise you to know that Yelp does not encourage Business Owners to ask for reviews. Gaining review content and building up your online reputation doesn’t happen overnight, but it should happen naturally. The best way to get your customers talking is to leave a trail of breadcrumbs and amplify the positivity that you already have.
- Share Your Reviews On Other Platforms: When you receive a great review, what could be better than having as many people as possible see it? Through Yelp you can share your reviews directly to your businesses’ Facebook account, Twitter account, or even embed the review into your website directly. This works as an advertisement for your business, but also reminds your engaged audience of customers that Yelp is a place you pay attention to customer feedback and subtly lets them know you’d love to hear about their experiences too.
- Direct People To Your Online Presence: Beyond just telling your patrons they can find your business online, you’ll want to make your Yelp presence visible in your store or on your website. This is your chance to get creative! Take your great reviews from online and bring them to life in your business by printing and framing in your store, incorporating in your email blasts and sharing with customers via flyers. The ideas are endless, but the main takeaway is this… spread the love of your positive reviews.
When it comes to maximizing your Yelp reach, the most important step is to get engaged. Consumers want to spend their money with people who care about their experience, and by responding to your reviewers and spreading the positivity, you are helping to share the love your business has gained. As for the negative feedbacks? Let them work to your advantage, as well. Using the tips above, you will be better positioned to strengthen your Yelp engagement and as a result, your overall customer engagement, as well.
Join Yelp at the Independent Retailer Conference held at ASD Market Week this March in Las Vegas! Learn more here!
Take advantage of ASD Market Week’s 90+ free retail strategy sessions this March 11-14, 2018 in Las Vegas.
Contributed by Emily Washcovick, Business Outreach Manager at Yelp. She joined Yelp in 2014 and works to host informational sessions with local business owners across North America to educate them on best practices for navigating the world of online reviews and utilizing the free tools available on biz.yelp.com.