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Ray Donnell
Ray Donnell

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How to Create Online Review Management Strategy

Reviews for local businesses are everywhere. As consumers, we search for opinions and ask our friends for recommendations.

From the business’ perspective, a review management strategy, or watching these reviews and knowing how to respond to them, is an important piece of your overall marketing strategy.

They’re necessary to maintain a brand’s image, which directly affects sales.

Reviews can also offer you an opportunity to identify flaws in your business or operations. In turn, they can inform your brand messaging and marketing strategies.

You might also be familiar with reputation management – this is a larger umbrella terminology for maintaining the consumer’s perception of a brand.

It includes listings management, social media and search visibility and review marketing and generation strategies as well, but review management is a key element.

If you’re looking to start taking a more active role in your brand’s reputation management, having a review management strategy in place is an essential first step.

This guide will walk you through all the fundamentals of implementing a review strategy for your brand.

Why review management is important

Online reviews are not new, but they are more important than ever to brands online. As a consumer, you know how many places you can find them: formalized on TripAdvisor, posted about on Twitter or talked about in a blog post.

Reviews have only become more accessible with the proliferation of mobile apps and the addition of readily visible ratings in search results. It’s easier than ever for customers to search your brand on the go and make a quick decision about where they want to take their business.

The prevalence of reviews isn’t just positive for consumers, it also provides a valuable source of feedback for your business.

This can help you understand where to improve, or what customers are loving that you could highlight even more in your marketing.

You might be familiar with looking out for brand mentions and feedback on social media, but there’s a difference between a review posted on Facebook versus chatter about a restaurant on Twitter.

Sites with formal star ratings like Facebook and Google get tallied up and averaged for all your future customers to see.

This factors into your overall online presence since these ratings can increase your SEO visibility and show up in search results for your brand terms.

The good news is that these sites also offer a way for businesses to publicly reply to the review.

Why you should reply to online reviews

Just as you keep on top of your social media messages and engage back, replying to reviews helps build trust and repeat business for your brand. No matter what the tone or content of a review is, it’s a best practice to always respond.

89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews, so they’re an essential avenue for cementing your brand identity and forging connections to your customers.

Plan for common review situations in advance so that you know your team is ready to stay on message. You’ll want to draw up a document of items frequently mentioned in reviews and appropriate responses. During your audit, you probably saw some of these common scenarios. Use your audit as the base but not the limiting factor.

Tips for responding to online reviews

When reading a critique of your business, you may feel attacked and frustrated that the customer doesn’t understand you. While this is a valid reaction, it’s important to move beyond this and see the opportunity to rebuild trust with your audience.

Setting aside the frustration can open the door to connection – 33% of customers who received a response to a negative review subsequently changed it to be more positive, while 34% deleted their negative review.

Keep your tone friendly and understanding. When responding to every review, personalize it with a name if available, acknowledge what was written, and add remarks if steps will be taken internally. Sign off with your name and position if that’s not readily apparent.

Identify review networks to focus on

To start implementing a review management strategy, you need to identify the networks that you want to focus on. The fastest way to do this is to perform an audit of each review network you can think of and explore how many reviews are left there.

You could either look at how many your business currently gets on a given site, or how well your niche is represented there.

To find the most opportune networks for your reviews, it may be best to set up a social media listening strategy that will bring up online chatter about your business. If you start seeing more reviews from one network, maybe it’ll be time to join it.

Plus, with listening you’ll be able to find other sources of valuable feedback about your business across social networks.

In the above scenario, the account name was mentioned by the user. But if they had only mentioned the name of the game or other branded key terms, a listening strategy would’ve brought it up in a search for brand name mentions.

Conclusion

When it comes to writing online reviews, customers have a lot of power. But with the right tools, preparation and knowledge, businesses also have the power to change brand perception in a positive way.

Acknowledging and responding to online reviews, good and bad, not only strengthen your brand’s online image but also gets folded into social media engagement. Social customer care and online review management go hand in hand. Master these two and you’ll have an excellent customer care strategy.

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