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Unexpected Turns: How to Turn Negative Reviews Into New Opportunities

Turning a Negative Into a Positive
Few things in life as a small business owner in the 21st century inspire more dread than a bad review. If you’ve been paying any attention to our blog posts here at LinkNow Media, you’ll know that we’re obsessed with reviews and “how they can impact your SEO” . And in fact, most consumers take reviews into account when they are searching for information on products.
So when your business gets a dreaded one-star review, it can feel like the end of the world. But it absolutely isn’t. In fact, it might just be the best thing that happens to your business this week.
When Life Hands You Lemons, Paint Them Gold
The first step to reclaiming your company’s reputation after a bad review?
DON’T PANIC.
Take a deep breath. Now is not the time to let powerful emotions take sway. And you will be experiencing powerful emotions! After all, your business isn’t only your livelihood, it’s so much more than that. It’s your raison d’etre. It’s what gets you bounding out of bed in the morning. When someone leaves a bad review, it feels personal.
What we see time and time again in dealing with small business owners is an immediate defensive response. The business owner will reply to the review, but immediately attack the reviewer’s character. This person is a liar. We never worked with them. This customer was mentally unwell!
Never do this.
It does not matter whether or not you and the client had a disagreement. The customer might even be lying (more on that below). Never ever attack the customer as a review response strategy.
It will immediately make you, the business owner, look like someone who leverages their power in order to get their way. Because you have to remember here that, from the outside, it looks like you have the power here, and that this customer is merely trying to make amends for how they were treated.
What do you do instead?
Reach out, with compassion and humility. You do not have to admit to anything you did not do, but you can apologize for the fact the customer had a negative experience.
Be kind but remain in control. Which means diplomatically expressing your condolences and promising to make amends in some regard. Maybe that means offering a discount on future services. Or maybe it requires something more serious like a policy review.
But remember that you are the face and voice of your business. Remember: magnanimity is something that looks good on absolutely everybody.
If you need to take time to get into the right headspace to do this, then do so.Remember that customers aren’t looking for an instant response, but the right response.
But I can still hear you saying, the review really is fake! I’ve never had that customer!
It doesn’t matter. Respond graciously. If it’s false, respond graciously and quietly report the review.
And don’t lose sleep. You’ll be okay. And soon, people will know your business as kind and professional under fire, which is worth its weight in gold stars.

Turning Negative Reviews into a Positive

Turning a Negative Into a Positive

Let’s be honest about it, there aren’t many things that can send a shiver down the spines of business owners much like negative reviews. However, the fact of the matter is that negative reviews don’t have to be the disaster that many business owners imagine them to be. In fact, dealt with positively and proactively, negative reviews can be used to your advantage.

At LinkNow Media, we know that no business is going to be happy with a negative review. However, we also know that any business, no matter what industry they are in, is going to experience negative reviews from time to time. So, instead of worrying needlessly about how a negative review might affect your business, why not take the time to read through these useful tips about how a positive mindset and proactive approach can turn bad reviews on their head in no time at all.

Earn Trust With Negative Reviews

Recent research shows that 86% of consumers say reviews are an essential resource when making purchase decisions. The reason that so many purchasers turn to reviews is because of their authenticity. When a customer is considering purchasing a product, there’s no research quite like hearing how people who have previously used the product or service have fared.
With that in mind, it can make sense why the first reaction of many business owners is to immediately delete negative reviews—but trust us—this is a bad idea! A centennial shopper survey found that 44% of people under age 18 would not trust product reviews that contained no negative excerpts and 60% were found to read the negative reviews first. If you don’t try to hide negative reviews, then it is likely that you will be rewarded by consumers who know that your company has nothing to hide.

Negative Reviews Can Drive Innovation

You may be wondering how negative reviews drive improvement and innovation but if you think about it, it is easy to see how. By using the analytics and insights you receive from user-generated ratings and reviews, you can shed light on opportunities to better serve your customers.

So, for instance if you are a restauranteur and have noticed that you have a clutch of three-star reviews or less, and you find that the reason for these negative reviews is because people think the service is often unfriendly, then you could correct this issue by having an in-house training session with your team showing them the virtues of being friendlier to customers.
At LinkNow Media, we work closely with all our commercial clients to create an environment where they can face negative reviews with confidence and a sense of assuredness that will help them improve their business in the long-run.

So, rather than try and silence your customers bad online reviews, why not take our advice on board and embrace the criticism in a positive and proactive fashion. We promise, you won’t be disappointed!

Keeping Clients Happy as a Designer

Personal Reviews

It’s a well-known fact that when creative people deal with non-creative people, it can be difficult on both ends. The client is usually coming from a place of not knowing what goes into the work their designer is doing most of the time.

Given these facts, it’s always important to remain calm, professional, and empathetic to the stance of your client. Telling yourself that the client is always right can get you part of the way, but learning how to work with your client and share ideas to create a productive environment is what will really sustain you throughout your career.

Tips for Success

As a designer, you’ve either spent years teaching yourself or being educated at a post-secondary school putting all of your passion and energy into the creative field that is design. Whether you’re a colorist, web designer, graphic designer, or one of the many other sub-sects of this area, it’s safe to say that your job is your life.

It’s unlikely you want that life to be a difficult one, so here are some tips to get through the day.

  1. Start the day right
  2. Before opening up your email and diving in, take a moment to meditate on the fact that the power is in your hands to discuss, educate, and create a final product that will both please your client and enhance your portfolio. You are the one with the knowledge, and as it was so famously stated by Uncle Ben in Spiderman: with great power comes great responsibility.

  3. Stay open to suggestion
  4. There’s nothing that will put a stop to cooperation faster than a closed mind. If your client approaches you with an idea that you believe to be impossible, take a moment before responding and figure out the best way to execute that idea in a way you see as doable. There’s no such thing as a bad idea. Even the most frustrating suggestions can lead to real results.

  5. Learn about the brand
  6. By learning about your client’s business you can better invest yourself in the work you’re doing. If you care about what you’re creating just as much as your client does, beyond the purely creative point, you’ll find it a lot more exciting getting to work!

  7. Communicate
  8. The most important thing you can do is communicate. Don’t move ahead on any aspect of the project without checking in and making sure that where you’re at right now is good. You will still have clients who may change their minds, but you can minimize that through communication.

    Keep Calm and Carry On

    When two people from vastly different backgrounds come together to work on a project, there will inevitably be problems. As a designer, it is your duty to help your clients through the creative process as you collaborate to create a final result.

    By keeping in mind that you hold all the information and have the ability to share it, you can take on a calm and confident role in all of your business relationship and continue to enjoy your job!

Where Will Online Reviews Take You in 2018?

Online Reviews in 2018

Whether you’re just starting out online or you’ve been promoting your company on the World Wide Web for years now, there’s no denying the strength of a quality collection of online reviews.

Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List… it goes on and on. The sites that people can use to have their say about your business are endless.

Opening up your business to reviews can be scary at first, but after you settle into a routine, you take them as they come. However, if you are just starting out or you’re in a bad place with your reviews currently, your main resolution for 2018 should be to create a quality reputation for your company online.

The Stats

We’ll start off with the stats. Heading into 2018, we’ve got a few we know already.

  • 82% of Americans pay attention to the reviews of their friends and family.
  • 92% of all consumers are reading reviews.
  • 31%of consumers will spend 31% more on businesses with good reviews.

In fact, if your business has a one star rating only 5% of consumers will feel comfortable purchasing from you or using your services. That’s a pretty staggering case for staying on top of your reviews.

Collecting Reviews in the New Year

Whether you were already aware of it or not, there are good ways to get reviews, and bad ways. And while the lines of legality can be tough considering you’re on the internet, consider this: Companies paying for reviews left by fake reviewers have been sued multiple times in the past by large corporations such as Amazon. Just don’t do it.

Instead, collect your reviews direct from happy customers. If you have a storefront, put a sign at your counter telling people how they can have their say, or even include a flyer with their receipt that tells them the same. Your clients will want to be heard, so letting them know they have an outlet will do the trick.

Responding to Bad Reviews

Got a bad review? It probably doesn’t feel very good. We’ve all been there. What can you do about it? Respond as quickly as possible.

If the review is from an unreasonable client, explain your stance politely and offer restitution if possible. If you are in the wrong, admit this immediately and offer a discount or other reward. Whether these clients accept what you say or not, you are showing that you are a professional and reasonable business owner. This will go a long way for potential clients reading your negative reviews.

The worst thing you can do in the case of a negative review is ignore it. It’s not going to go away.

A Toast to Your Success

When you’ve got a top-rated business online you can truly get ready to pop that champagne and celebrate. Online reviews can be frustrating but always keep in mind that your clients are the people who keep your business going. Their input is valuable, and without them you wouldn’t be around very long!

Happy New Year, and happy reviewing!

The Best Way to Understand Your Clients’ Needs

Understanding your clients

As of 2015, Forbes estimated there were 27 million small businesses registered in the United States. If you spread that number out equally amongst all 50 states, that leaves 480,000 small business per state. And this count isn’t including larger companies that could be your competition depending on your industry.

Being able to understand your clients’ needs is what is going to end up determining whether you’re successful or not. Attracting clients is the first step, but then you’re going to need to ensure they stick around. Predicting what merchandise and services they could use and making changes they’ll appreciate—that is how you guarantee a return customer.

It’s Actually Quite Simple

Believe it or not, it’s actually quite simple to understand the needs of your clients in 2018. Why is this? It’s because of the internet.

Everyone is able to have their say now, to the point of frustration! And, while the online world has its share of irritants and unreasonable commenters, there is a lot that can be taken into account from analytics, and especially online reviews.

While analytics can tell you what products and posts are popular, reviews are your direct line to the minds of your clients, not sugar-coated, and honest.

Seeing Through the Attitude

The best and worst thing about the internet is that people feel more comfortable saying exactly what they like. Without being face to face with someone, you’re just talking to your monitor, and what sort of offense is it going to take to what you’re typing? Not much.

Positive reviews tend to be straightforward about what the client enjoyed about your services.

“I came by the gaming store today looking for an expansion I couldn’t find anywhere else and not only did you have it, but it was priced lower than everywhere else!”

They like your pricing—check.

Negative reviews often come wrapped in excessive language and hate which can make it hard to pull the constructive parts out.

“I have never left a negative review in my life. But because of your restaurant, today is the day. I was going out to enjoy a beautiful day and have lunch with my fiancée who I never have the chance to treat to anything because I’m so busy with work, but the presentation of your menus as well as the food was disappointing to say the least. The attitudes of the servers offended us further…”

The list goes on. Negative reviewers want to paint a picture of their entire negative experience, which is OK. From this you can glean that there were issues with presentation, food, as well as service. To find out more, all you need to do is reply politely and request that you speak over the phone and rectify the experience.

Extending the Olive Branch

Extending the olive branch to negative reviewers is what will get you the best information on changes that you should be making. While some reviewers may be in the wrong, take everything that is said seriously and do a self-evaluation to see if maybe there’s something right hiding in there.

The old saying really is true—the customer is always right!

Chaos: The World of Online Reviews

Chaos Online Reviews

The world of online reviews can be a chaotic one. So, is it really that necessary to be a part of it? For many business, they are losing interest and dropping the option for reviews altogether on websites like Facebook where this is possible.

Larger companies such as conventions find themselves inundated with reviews from false reviewers, disappointed attendees who didn’t have lofty needs met, and more. Knowing that they’re still guaranteed a large attendance, why bother leaving those pesky reviews up?

And, with mega review site Yelp itself clocking in at 57% of their reviews being one star, it’s clear that the community is not impressed. And Yelp is not the only one. There are a lot of online business owners out there who think review website aren’t doing their job when it comes to quality control.

Control Your Feedback

While it’s impossible to have full control over your online reviews, there are steps you can take to ensure your review section online is not a total disaster. It all starts with vigilance.

If you’re just starting out and have the time to man your own reviews, make sure that you set up notifications so you can see them as the roll in. If you are a larger company that gets multiple reviews in a week or even day, you’re going to need a dedicated employee for this task.

Response is everything when it comes to reviews. If you have received a negative review from a genuine client of whom you can comment on their experience and offer a solution, do it as quickly as possible. If you have received a review not left by a genuine customer, you can calmly and professionally express your side of the story.

And, the report button is your friend. Most recently, Google reviews updated their terms of service to state that ex-employees cannot leave negative reviews. If you’re dealing with those, send a report to Google straight away!

The Power is in Your Hands… Sort Of

It’s a tough fact of life that online reviews are always going to be a bit of a mess. In a world where an argument to remove a review is very much “he said she said,” it’s not easy for moderators on websites such as Yelp to make decisions in your favor.

But the power is still in your hands, and reviews are still useful to your business.

The stats still are there. Ninety-two percent of consumers in 2018 are reading online reviews when looking for local businesses and 42% of these consumers won’t use business with less than a three-star rating.

Business owners may not have complete control over the state of their reviews, but they can always do their best to represent themselves properly.

The most anyone can do is their best, so stay on top of your reviews, run your business ethically, and remember: the customer is always right. Unless they’re not really your customer and have a personal vendetta against you. 😉

Five Review Sites That are not Google or Facebook

boat

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Online reviews are one of the most important tools for businesses online. Reviews help clients to communicate with your company, promote you, and attribute to a decent chunk of SEO as well.

The facts are as follows:

  • 92% of consumers now read online reviews.
  • Star rating is the number one factor used by consumers to judge a business.
  • 80% of consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations./
  • On average reviews increase sales by 18%.

Reviews are important, and on average, a consumer will look at over 10 information sources before making a purchase. When we think of review websites, the two that are most often in our faces are Google and Facebook. However, having your business on multiple review sites will count for citations, and boost activity to rank you higher. So what other sites are out there to gather reviews?

Yelp

The go-to for most business reviews, Yelp has an average monthly unique visitor count of 145 million. 135 million reviews are posted per year, and most people you run into on the street will have the app on their phone. In fact, 70% of Yelp page views come from mobile devices.

Any variety of business can be posted on Yelp, and for consumers on the go it’s an easy-to- use, and reliable review site. If you’re not already listed on Yelp, you should make it top priority!

Foursquare

Foursquare currently has 10 million users with three million check-ins every day. Being one of the 400,000 business owners that use Foursquare as a marketing tool won’t just get you reviews, it will get you noticed. The way it works is users can check into a location as many times as they like and every time they do, their friends will know where they are. Users can become “mayor” of locations they are at the most, and fight for this title adding a fun, competitive aspect to this marketing tool—all of which will cost you nothing!

TripAdvisor

Users looking for the best places to go on a vacation or in their own city can rely on TripAdvisor. With 390 million unique visitors, 500 million reviews and opinions, and over 4.2 million business listed, like Yelp, this is a highly useful tool for review-gathering.

Better Business Bureau

To be a part of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), you will have to pay for a yearly membership. One of the oldest review and rating sites, the BBB is an authority on many businesses in North America. Listing detailed information including inception dates, a high rating relies on a list of factors including:

  • Type of business
  • Time in business
  • Complaint volume
  • Transparent practices
  • Competency licensing

The BBB is known for holding business accountable.

Consumer Affairs

Not only can you gather reviews with Consumer Affairs, you will also gain access to a wealth of resources to help you learn more about reviews, increase revenue, find brand ambassadors, and learn how to convert negative customer experiences into positive ones.

There are other prominent websites out there such as Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, and GlassDoor, however these are focused on serving specific purposes or industries. If you are in the world of home renovation, Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor are important. If you’re hoping to gain a reputation for future employees, GlassDoor is your best friend.

In the world of online marketing there is no shortage of online review websites, but getting your business to appear on those that are most viewed is your first step to business and SEO success.

Online Review Stats in 2017

online reviews

Every year surveys come out with percentages and detailed information regarding just about everything online. At LinkNow Media, we’re always interested in anything that affects SEO.
When it comes to online reviews, your reputation is pretty important, and the latest information confirms it. We’ll give you the “too long didn’t read” right now and say: reviews still matter in 2017.

So, don’t think you can get out of encouraging and monitoring them any time soon.

Who is Reading What?

In 2016, 95% of consumers were using the internet to look up local businesses. If you think that’s high though, 2017 has seen a 2% increase, up to 97%! If you currently run a business that doesn’t have an online presence, you’re making a big mistake.

Half of these consumers are looking for local businesses online at least once a month. Imagine how much business you’re missing out on if you’re not there to be found!
But, maybe your industry doesn’t really do that whole online thing? We doubt it. Among the top industries that have their clients reading reviews are:

    • Restaurants
    • Hotels
    • Healthcare
    • Clothing stores
    • Car dealerships
    • Tradesmen
    • Pest control
    • Cars for hire
    • Accountants
    • Locksmiths

And that’s just to name a few. So, where should you be collecting reviews? Facebook and Yelp unsurprisingly tied at 20% of consumers trusting them the most, followed closely by Google at 16% and the Better Business Bureau at 15%.

And, how many of these browsers turn into conversions? 68% of US consumers are more likely to use a business with positive reviews, with 40% citing negative reviews as a reason not to frequent a local business.

Best of all, the number of consumers who will actually visit a business after reading a review has grown by 10% from last year, to 17%.

Focus on Quantity and Quality

Factors that have also grown in importance since 2016 are the quantity and quality of reviews. There’s no way you can just sit back and coast when it comes to this powerful SEO builder.
54% of consumers rank star rating as the most important factor, with quantity coming in second at 46%—up 11% from last year. Consumers also want to see you getting involved. Up 10% from 2016, 30% now want to see you responding.

Therefore, our best advice to you is to keep doing what you’re doing. But do it a lot more. You still need to be drumming up reviews and monitoring them, providing professional responses to both positive and negative, but the importance of review building and etiquette has only become more important.

Feeling overwhelmed? You can always put the reins in the hands of an experienced SEO team like the one at LinkNow Media!

Can I Review my own Business?

boat

In the world of online reviews, many business owners like to start the ball rolling by leaving their own company a star rating or a little review.

Sounds innocent enough, but is it?

Whether your intentions are good, or shady, reviewing your own business is a bad idea.

Nearly 80% of consumers rely on online reviews before hiring a service or purchasing a product. In fact, peer reviews are trusted as much as recommendations from family or friends. With this in mind, it can be easy to get greedy and impatient when you’re just starting out.

However, you need to keep in mind that fake reviews are unethical, and even illegal. That’s right—you can be sued for posting fake reviews. It is called “astroturfing” and websites such as Google, Yelp and Amazon have been known to sue over it.

But you might be thinking: “How is it a fake review if I state that I am the business owner, or don’t say anything and just leave five stars??”

In the case of a five-star rating, it’s true you can probably get away with it. But if anyone realizes you are the business owner, your credibility is shot. If you reviewed your own company with five stars, who’s to say you didn’t talk other friends and family members into leaving biased reviews, or even pay for fake reviews?

    A fake review can be any of the following:

    • Asking someone who is not a customer to write a review.

    • Paying someone to write a review, even if they are a customer.

    • Asking an employee to review your company (it’s different if they review and state that the review is about their experience as an employee).

    • Creating a fake profile to review your company.

    • Reviewing your company as yourself, the business owner.

    That’s right, even if you state that you are the business owner and you’re just stopping in to leave a positive review, it’s counted as fake.
    Why?

    Because you have added to your rating. Whether you’re up-front about who you are or not, you have successfully altered the rating of your business and that is the goal of fake reviews.

    In 2016, Amazon sued 1,000 fake reviewers in an attempt to crack down on this practice. They stated that these false reviewers were tarnishing their brand with inauthenticity.

    No one is invulnerable to this sort of crackdown.

    So, how do you get started with reviews? There’s nothing wrong with suggesting that clients leave a review. Mention it on your website by linking to your business page, or put a sign up in your brick and mortar business.

    But next time you’re considering somehow leaving a review for your own business, just say no.

When Social Media Goes Wrong

social media

Social media can be a helpful tool for many businesses when it comes to adding a little extra to their SEO and providing a great platform for business-client interaction. Sure, building a Facebook page won’t lead to direct ranking, but the potential for link building is big, as well as building an audience. /

However, if one or two things go wrong, social media can have big real-world consequences for your business—whether you’re on it or not!

Ease of Sharing

The same thing that you can benefit so much from can be your downfall as well. How many times have we seen people in the public eye sticking their foot in their mouth via Twitter? Or having an old post from years ago brought up and criticized?

It’s always important to think before speaking, but in the case of social media, the record of what you say will live on forever. Even if you delete it, realizing after the fact that something you just said didn’t go over so well, is often too late.

Staff Representation

Before the age of social media, business owners would wonder what their employees really thought about their jobs. Were they enjoying it? Saying negative things to friends and family? Well, now anyone can have their say—and make it public.

The way your staff represents you online is important. Especially if they have a big following.

While it’s usually advised that employees be careful what they say online, it goes both ways. Reputation is important. Don’t lose yours by being a bad boss and getting called out for it online.

Everyone has Their Say

Which brings us to reviews. Staff, customers and anyone you can think of can have their say online. Even if you’ve avoided putting your business on directories and social media pages, if you’ve got a bad reputation, it will get out.

All it takes is one angry client or staff member to start the ball rolling and list you online. Then, whether you like it or not, you’re there for good and the only way to fight back is by taking control of your social media presence and communicating with bad reviewers.

Case Studies

It can be entertaining to look at businesses failing on social media, until it’s your business in the hot seat. Paying attention to what others did wrong can help you avoid making the same mistakes.

Coca-Cola

Posting an outdated map of Russia omitting Kaliningrad which was annexed following World War II, Coca-Cola had a brand-new hashtag following them around: #BanCocaCola. Applied to images and videos of people pouring their Coke bottles down the toilet, it wasn’t the greatest marketing move.

MTV Australia

Tweeting a suggestion requesting English subtitles on actresses America Ferrera and Eva Longoria at the Golden Globes doesn’t seem like the greatest idea. But MTV Australia thought it was a good plan. Needless to say, they suffered a PR nightmare.

Tay Tweets

Probably the most famous social media mess-up of recent years, Microsoft launched their AI Twitter bot and encouraged the people of the internet to help it learn. Well, if you know the people of the internet, you can guess what happened. Tay turned into a sexist, racist jerk in less than 24 hours.

The Final Words

Like many marketing tools, the powers of social media can be used for good, or evil. Compose carefully, research well and don’t let the trolls teach your account to be just like them.

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