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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!

When Reviews Get Personal

Personal Reviews

When we talk about online reviews we often discuss businesses with multiple people at play—the owner, partners, employees, and clients walking through the door whether that be a physical one or an online one.

But what if you’re the sole-proprietor of your own small business, or a freelancer working for larger companies? Then things start to take a more personal turn on the topic of reviews. As the primary figurehead of your business, the only owner, and the only employee, it’s going to be nearly impossible to separate the actions of yourself from the work you do.

While many freelancers will not open themselves up to online review in the classic sense, if you are the owner of your own online storefront, that’s not an option you’re going to have.

When the Face Impacts the Business

Businesses like NastyGal and Lime Crime may have a multitude of employees, but they make for good case studies when it comes to showing how the face of a business can impact its sales.

NastyGal

By now, many in the retail world know the story of the rise and fall of GirlBoss Sophia Amoruso. But we’re going to point out a situation that happened before the official launch of NastyGal.com, back when NastyGal Vintage was a not-so-humble eBay store.

Marking up thrift store finds from $8 to $1,000, Amoruso started garnering the disapproval of other vintage eBay sellers. Not content to ignore them and continue on her way, she would delve into chatrooms to argue with and troll fellow sellers. The result? They banded together to get her store shut down.

Now, while this gave her the push to launch her multi-million dollar .com, it was a low point that displays how getting personal can bring you into the spotlight and ensure that simple seller jealousy turns into a personal vendetta with a lot more power behind it.

Lime Crime

As of 2015, Lime Crime was labeled “the most hated beauty company on the internet” by a multitude of online bloggers. Right from the start, the brand was founded by Doe Deere who already had popularity online through LiveJournal, which as it turned out would both help and hinder her brand.

When you’re an online personality, there’s dirt for people to dig up, and being in the blogosphere, there were a lot of people on the lookout for Deere’s first slip-up. And dirt was indeed dug up.

And, amidst news of Deere threatening legal action against a 13 year-old for photo credits, repackaging her makeup, and dressing as a Nazi for Halloween—how did Deere react? She got deeply involved in the conversation even suing multiple bloggers.

Lime Crime is a textbook case of a company face tarnishing the reputation of a good product.

In Conclusion

The message to keep in mind if you are the owner of your own small business or you work freelance for larger companies, is to remember that you are your business.
Especially in the age of the internet, people are always watching. And while that may seem creepy, it’s a good thought to keep in mind. As a business owner, you now represent that business at all times. So, try not to wear offensive Halloween costumes and sue your critics. It’s the least you can do.

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. 😉

Lose Your Bad Review Rep

Lose Your Bad Review Rep

We’ve all seen how important online reviews were for businesses in 2017, and know how horrifying it can be when you put your business out there hoping to hear the best, and instead receive negativity.

A shocking 97% of consumers are browsing for local businesses and reading online reviews, with these reviews impacting nearly 70% of purchasing decisions. The last thing you should be doing is sitting back, relaxing, letting the reviews flow in and focusing on other parts of your business.

However, it also needs to be said that freaking out about every bad review is not the best path to go down either. So, what do you do to regain your reputation when reviews go sour?

It’s Not So Bad

Let’s start off with another statistic: 77% of consumers don’t pay attention to reviews older than three months.

Breathing a little better now? While it is a wait period, if you’re actively monitoring your reviews, taking in constructive criticism, and responding professionally to non-constructive criticism, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to ride this out.

Negative reviews can happen for a lot of reasons. You could be dealing with a competitor sending fake reviews your way, you could have had a difficult customer who just can’t be satisfied, or you made a mistake. In all of these cases—it’s not so bad. There are ways to deal, and to recover.

Keep up Communication

If you launched your business, immediately opened it up for reviews, and then got inundated with all that comes along with launching a business, don’t be surprised if your reviews are less than kind.

Lots of us have been there—you haven’t looked in a while, and when you do, you get that sick feeling in your stomach.

First: You can’t go back. If you have yet to build your online presence and open yourself up to reviews, hold off until you’re a bit more established.

If not… get communicating! A review without a response is a missed opportunity.

You Can Improve

It’s easy as a business owner to become protective over your company and believe that it can do no wrong. But this is absolutely never the case.

As humans, we make mistakes. As humans, what one of us likes is not always what another one of us will like. You’re always going to have unhappy customers, and opening yourself up to their criticism will only make you and your business better.

This Too Shall Pass

A good mantra for anyone dealing with review stress is: “This too shall pass”.

Online reviews are important, and yes, they will be there forever. But the more time goes by, the less those few bad ones are going to matter.

And best of all, now you have a public record of just how far you’ve come!

Reviews Gone Wrong

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Back in the day the keys to success as a business were mainly providing a superior product and offering good value and service. Fast forward to today and it’s easy to see that this is no longer the case. For a business to be successful in this day and age, customer experience is going to rank the highest.

We all know the importance of online reviews and how platforms like social media can be used to rank a customer’s experience with your business. The internet is an arena for interactive feedback and while the success of your business can be based off this type of interaction, it can also be harmed.

When it comes to reviewing a business online or engaging in interactive feedback, online discussions, or comments about a company or a service, oftentimes customers or those visiting your website will base their comments on things that may be out of your control as a business owner. When reviews are posted that have nothing to do with an actual customer experience it can easily spiral out of control.

Don’t Get Personal

Reviews are meant to based on actual customer experience and not on anything else. However, we often come across those who will write negative reviews or provide not-so-flattering commentary based on personal beliefs or on the activities or personal behaviour of employees.

Such reviews are unfair, and while business owners usually seek to hire people whose values align with those of their company, the truth is that business owners cannot control what their employees do while they are not at work.

Our personal lives are hardly personal anymore with everything being shared on social media, and customers can easily see what your employees are up to when they’re not at work. If this behaviour is deemed offensive by anyone it could unfortunately adversely impact your business in the form of negative reviews or harsh commentary.

This type of review is unfair for everyone mainly because it does not reflect an actual customer experience with your business. And while a customer may be offended by the behaviour of an employee, if that behaviour did not occur while the employee was at work, and it did not affect the customer’s experience, then it really has no bearing on your business and your company should be left out of it.

Think Before You Post

The challenge comes from the blurring of personal and public and where to draw the line. Employers should make it clear that if an employee is going to engage in any questionable behaviour that it may have a negative impact on the image of the company that they work for. And while employers can’t control what their staff does on their own free time, they can encourage them to think about what they share with the public online.

Customer Experience Wins Every Time

Customer experience should still be the main benchmark of success as a business in this age of over-sharing and instant feedback. Remember to consider this before leaving a negative review about a business based on anything else. While you may not agree with something that someone does in their personal time, is it really fair to involve the company they work for?

How to Monitor Your Online Reputation

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If you’ve been paying attention to the statistics about online reputation over the past year, you’ll know just how important your online reputation is.

If not, let’s start with a couple facts:

  • 97% of consumers read online reviews.
  • 85% of them trust these reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • 73% of them trust a business more if it has positive reviews.
  • 49% will not choose a business with less than a four-star rating.
  • With that in mind, you can start creating a plan to collect and monitor reviews to build your online reputation.

    The DIY Method

    The majority of business owners who are just starting out, are going to go through a period where they try to do everything on their own. While this is a heroic effort, it can leave you burned out, stressed, and ineffective.

    However, if you’re looking for the best sites to make monitoring your own online reputation a little easier, there are options out there.

    Google Alerts

    When business owners think reviews, they think Google. Not only will Google alert you to new reviews left through your Google My Business listing, but you can set Google alerts to notify you every time new posts are made online involving keywords of your choice. Plug in your company name and you’re good to go.

    Hootsuite

    Hootsuite is the ultimate home base for monitoring all of your social media in one location. Not only can you schedule posts and engage with your clients faster than ever, but when they engage with you, you’ll see them. Best of all, Hootsuite will provide you with analytics reports for every account you have running through them!

    The Stress-Free Method

    You’ve done all the legwork involved in launching your business, and now it’s up to you to run it successfully. It’s a lot to have on one person’s shoulders. The last thing you need is to deal with aspects of your business that someone else could be managing.

    By hiring a professional web development company such as LinkNow Media, you’ll be arming yourself with a professional team of SEOs who can get your company ranking high and ensure that your reputation stays positive.

    Go Forth and Gather Reviews!

    You can’t have much of an online reputation without the reviews to back you up. While there are some big “NOs” when it comes to review gathering, it’s a fact that 68% of your clients will leave a review if asked.

    Don’t go down the rabbit hole of paying for reviews, since it can come back to bite you in the form of fines. And, don’t review your own business. Fake reviews never lead anywhere good.
    Next time you have a happy customer finish conducting their business with you, let them know you’d love to hear their feedback. Soon your company will be well on its way to being the most popular kid online!

    Cash in on Reviews During Boxing Day

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    Boxing Day will be upon us at the end of December—the 26th to be exact. So now is the perfect time to cash in on those valuable SEO tools—reviews.

    People love to have their say, and when you let them, you’ll be benefiting from it to. With 84% of consumers trusting online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, they’re a great way to boost your reputation. Not to mention, the more activity there is around your website, the higher you’ll rank on search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing.

    Boxing Day brings in billions of dollars to retailers across North America every year, and 2016 was a record breaker with a grand total of $3.45 billion spent online. With this much activity, you’re bound to get reviews whether you ask for them or not.

    Asking Properly

    Now is the time to start planning your online marketing for the biggest retail weekend of the year. Keep in mind SEO, ad channels, and what sales you want to run.
    But also figure out how you’re going to ask satisfied clients to leave you positive reviews.

    First let’s note the golden rule: Do NOT incentivize.

    There’s nothing wrong with asking for reviews, but offering compensation for these rules is not only bad form but could result in legal action being taken against you. A review that was bought is not going to be genuine, and consumers and search engines alike are concerned about the truth.

    How to Ask

    Posting a “Please review us” button on your site is not the worst option, but it’s not the best either.

    Targeting customers who had good experiences is your goal. But while this is easier to gauge in person, there are ways to do some guess work for your online clients.

    Send a request immediately after purchase

    One option is to include your request for review in the email that is sent to confirm an order. No, your client has not actually received the item yet, but they have purchase from you and may want to comment on how simple or fun the buying process was.

    Yes, you do risk them coming back with a negative update if they hate what they ordered, but it’s still going to create activity for your site.

    Send a request after 10 days

    Ten days is an arbitrary number, but pick a time when you know your customers will have received their item(s). If they haven’t sent in a return request, you can safely say that they are satisfied with what they purchased.

    The more personalized your approach for a review is, the more likely you are to get it. But with large sale weekends it’s tough to add that personal touch. So do your guesswork, and don’t cave into the urge to incentivize because you will not be thanking yourself for it for long!

    Five Review Sites That are not Google or Facebook

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    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.

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