Over the past decade, we have seen a shift in how consumers discover, talk about, research and choose to purchase from brands. It's no surprise that social media and search engines are the driving force behind content-sharing and discovery. Most consumers will start their customer journey with a search engine. Within those search results, the consumer will be presented with a variety of content related to their search terms. Then, based on the results, the consumer will make a decision—where to get a hamburger, fix their tire, buy some shoes, or see a movie. Why do these results matter?
According to a study by Brightlocal, these are some key reasons:
These are some compelling statistics. Online reviews are a trusted source of feedback in the decision-making process. Consumers are making their decisions quicker. Content drives visits—and the fresher the review content, the better. So, what can brands do to ensure they understand and utilize review content in an effective way?
1. Claim locations
It is important to claim all of your locations on all five major review sites (Google+, Facebook Local, Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Foursquare). This helps create brand consistency and gives the sites the correct name, address and phone number (NAP) of your business. These business citations are an important part of your online presence and should not be overlooked. Plus, claiming your store’s location lets you respond to your customers directly—instead of just standing on the sidelines.
2. Listen and Monitor
Set up an efficient way to listen to and monitor the third-party review space. This is the first step to understand what your consumers are saying online, and is complimentary to your brand-level social media monitoring.
The third-party review sites are structured to give you feedback at the individual location level. This granularity allows you to set up feedback streams that can be aggregated at the corporate level and distributed to the local level for front line employees to understand specific results for their locations.
3. Create a tracking and reporting process
It's important to put the review data in a usable format. This could be in the form of an online dashboard accessible by each part of the organization. Track your results and share the feedback across the organization. At the highest level, brands should track review volume (overall and by location), star-rating values across the organization, and text analytics from the open ended comments—then share this data across the organization so you can take action.
SMG provides listening, monitoring and tracking of third party feedback via our SMG SocialView product.
4. Respond to reviews
In today's world, the consumer expectations are still fairly low—only about 20% of consumers expect a response from a brand when they leave a review. This is a huge opportunity for brands to make a big impact! If expectations are already low, a quick and courteous response from your brand will go far in reclaiming loyalty from that customer.
At the very least, a brand should set up a process to handle customer service responses. This can be as easy as setting up an email box specifically used for review site escalations. Then your brand can quickly respond on the third-party review site—and either turn a bad experience around, or celebrate a big win.
5. Collect and publish reviews
Actively collecting new reviews, asking for new reviews, and sharing reviews in the appropriate channels are great ways to be proactive about getting feedback. Based on the consumer research by BrightLocal, consumers are influenced by reviews—and the fresher the review, the better.
In some categories, like the QSR space, the volume of reviews can be rater low. Some QSR locations may only see one or two reviews per month. This does not give the most comprehensive overview of consumer sentiment. By collecting feedback from customers and asking for a review, a brand can proactively increase the volume of reviews to get better understanding of their performance. These reviews can be published to local web pages, which are crawled by search engines and indexed in search results. This review content is a significant indicator within the local search algorithm for sites like Google, and will help improve a site's overall search engine optimization—meaning more potential consumer eyes on your brand.
SMG provides collection and publishing of online reviews via our Trumpet Rating product.
Online reviews are a foundational part of your brand’s online presence and reputation. Consumers trust and utilize this content more and more as they move along the customer journey. With the growing volume and use of reviews, there are tremendous benefits for brands to proactively manage their local presence. Following these 5 steps will help keep your brand ahead of the competition, and drive more new and repeat customers to your business.
Want to know more about how our Social CX tool can help? Learn more here.
VP, Social Solutions