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Millennials and Reviews

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The largest generational cohort since the baby boomers, millennials are the largest generation in US history, and their shopping habits are shaping our economy more and more.

This tech-savvy generation has a purchasing power that will soon exceed that of every other generation. Strong supporters of online shopping, millennials are cautious as well, putting off large purchases until later in life and valuing quality over price.

It’s no surprise that with all the information available at their fingertips, they put research into their purchases whether it’s a physical one, or a service. That’s where reviews come in.

The Importance of User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) such as status updates on social media, blog posts and Google reviews are what make the millennial consumer’s world go around. The more viral and liked a product or service is by peers, the more likely they are to purchase it themselves.

In past generations, the professional opinion was king, but with a growing distrust for mainstream media and big corporations, this generation finds themselves turning to the most trusted source: mass approval.

Some may see this as illogical, but to understand the logic, consider this: Professionals may have appeared on adverts or written articles on a product, but was this always of their own volition? If not, someone wanted them doing that promotion for a reason. And can you really trust that?

UGC: Investing in Time to Make Solid Investments

Millennials spend 18 hours with media per day. Astounding, right? Some of us aren’t even awake for 18 hours of the day! Thirty percent of this time is spent browsing UGC, 33% on traditional media such as print and TV, and 37% on other media.

No matter what they’re looking at, and especially when it’s online, products are being promoted.

When something catches their eye, their first instinct is to look that product up online to see if it is legitimately what they expect, and to see if it’s worth buying.

If they’re looking for a service, Google reviews will be their first stop. If your business isn’t listed on a Google My Business page and set up with a star rating, you’re in trouble!

With 90% of millennials shopping online, your online presence is more important than ever. You just can’t afford to stay in the stone age.

Influence With Technology

Most millennials are obsessed with reviews. With apps like Yelp and Foursquare, everyone has a place to speak their mind. Whether you’re reading entertaining negative reviews, leaving one yourself, or praising the best pizza you’ve ever tried, reviews are fascinating and, for the most part, trustworthy.

Whether they’re aware of it or not, millennials have their antenna up for star ratings and reviews no matter where they are online and if there are no reviews to be found, it’s likely they’ll find a more reliable product.

So go the extra mile and make sure that your business is getting lots of great reviews. Rank higher on search engines, and bring in that amazing millennial purchasing power!

Why You Shouldn’t Pay for Fake Reviews

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It should go without saying that paying for reviews for your business that aren’t legitimate is not the greatest idea. But for a lot of people, this seems like the best answer for buffing up their positive Internet presence.

And why not? If it looks like a real customer and talks like a real customer, it must be a real customer. Not to mention if so many companies are doing it then it’s got to be legal, right? Wrong.

While you may or may not be aware, there are many reasons not to follow this path and stay legit.

It’s Fraud

Plain and simple, if you hire someone to write a phony review you are committing fraud. Think about why you want this person to write a review:to generate revenue for yourself.

With the popularity of online reviews in this era, they do translate to real money.

Fraud is defined as “the wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain”.

Sounds a whole lot like paying someone for a false review.

Real Results, Real Punishment

By 2015, Amazon had sued over 1000 people for writing fake reviews. Many of these reviewers came from the website Fiverr. And no—Fiverr was not sued—the individuals were. The websites on which your business is reviewed will not protect you or your reviewer, they will work towards ensuring the reviews on their website are as legitimate as possible.

Even Yelp and Alibaba have started to crack down on the fake reviews on their websites. And of course, Google has a reporting situation in place so they can handle fake reviews as well.
Want to keep your business’ reputation clean? Don’t pay for reviews.

Spotting a Fake Review

If you’re suspicious that a competitor is employing fake reviewers, there are ways to spot these reviews, or at least make an educated guess.

Take a trip over to Fakespot. Their system will scan for a number of factors including:

Overly positive language

Multiple reviews published the same day

If you want to do additional research yourself, check out the reviewer’s profile and see how real they seem. If you can’t find them in a quick Google search, they could very well be fake.

Tips for Real Reviews

It can be tempting to want to buff up your business by paying for fake reviews. But there are much better ways to get real reviews that you can actually feel good about.

Any time someone purchases from you or employs your services, just ask them to leave a review. Don’t offer gifts or coupons in exchange, simply learn how to pick out happy customers and get them to spread their joy.

And of course if any negative reviews appear, deal with them in a calm, professional manner.

Handle reviews properly and you’ll have a great reputation for your business online in no time!

How Consumers Use Reviews Online

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When you’re searching online to find the perfect restaurant to try out on Friday night, the last place you’ll choose is one with zero online presence. In the information age that is exactly what people are looking for: information. They want to see photos, other customer’s opinions, and maybe even a virtual tour if you have a physical storefront. These days, 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more, with 94% saying they’ll use a business if it has at least a four-star rating.

On average, a one-star increase on Yelp leads to a five to nine percent increase in revenue, with just one negative review costing you 30 customers. Reviews are the best way to hold a business accountable. Consumers look for reliability, expertise and professionalism, and if you cannot practice these they’ll let you know.

So, if negative reviews are so dangerous, why collect reviews at all? Well, a couple negative reviews are better than no reviews at all, so long as you’ve got some positive ones going on as well. When negative reviews occur, respond quickly, admit to any errors, reiterate your company’s mission and if possible and warranted, provide compensation.

When a consumer looks at or leaves reviews online, they’re looking to:

Find the best business for their needs

Build trust

Express themselves

Help other consumers

Here are some more numbers to help you understand the benefits of reviews:

92% of consumers read online reviews

68% say positive reviews make them trust a business more

Only14% of consumers will use a business with a one- or two-star rating, whereas 94% would use one with a five-star rating

80% of consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations

Online reviews are probably the most important tool for a modern business. You can gain them with skill by requesting them from loyal customers and publicly thanking positive reviewers while apologizing to those who had a bad experience.

A business with active reviews on websites like Google, Yelp and Foursquare will get a boost in SEO making their online presence skyrocket and produce tangible results in the form of an 18% uplift in sales.

Now more than ever, consumers want to see that business’ are run by real people, not robots. By interacting through reviews, you are showing that you care enough about your customers to take a moment out of your day to leave a personalized response to their opinion, and being able to do that is massively beneficial to any business. The last thing the 2017 consumer wants is to deal with a business that is unreachable.

Reviews impact search ranking, too. In 2014 Google updated its search engine to take into consideration the reviews from popular sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. So, if you’re actively getting your customers to leave reviews for your business, you’ll get more business, guaranteed. This sets off a chain reaction to in turn produce more reviews and more new customers.

Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews and interact with customers. It’s the only way your business is going to grow and survive. Give the gift of communication, and your consumers will most definitely give back!

How Online Reviews Impact Your Local SEO

More and more businesses are realizing the importance of online reviews when it comes to promoting their product or service, but did you know reviews also affect your Search Engine Optimization? SEO is just as crucial to the promotion of a business in 2017 because it means a boost in your ranking. For example, if someone is searching for a hair salon there are many options. But if you have the best SEO, they’ll find you first.

When you’re trying to beef up your SEO online reviews are critical to this process. Search engines love fresh user generated content, and customers love social proof. In fact, 90% of customers say their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.

Search engines like Google or Bing are in the business of creating fast and accurate search results, and the input from real people in the form of reviews is a great way to do this. In a recent study by Moz it was determined that reviews make up 10% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank results.

Factors that can play into your business’ SEO include a variety of signals such as linking, keywords and categories, with reviews coming in before social media in terms of boosting your business!

Google favors high-rated sites, and in a world where customers spend 31% more on a business with good reviews, you’ll want to get a review gathering strategy in place if you don’t already have one!

A good way to do this is request that happy customers leave a review. If you’re selling online, include your request in a thank you email. At a physical store, create a flyer you can drop in a customer’s bag along with their merchandise. You can even create a landing page on your website linking to review sites for the ultimate ease of access.

Review sites that will get the results you’re looking for include:

Google My Business/

Yelp

Foursquare

Citysearch

YP.com

Try the Review Handout Generator by Whitespark and Phil Rozek if you need an easy way to create handouts for your store, then wait for the reviews to start flowing!

Asking for reviews can be a bit of a scary process, considering you can land on a customer who’s not happy with their interaction. But don’t worry—even negative reviews keep your business active from a search engine’s point of view, and as long as you respond to all negative reviews in a calm and professional manner, you’ll be just fine.

Finally, on your quest for reviews, don’t be tempted into paying for fake reviews. This is considered fraud and you could be in big financial trouble for doing it. Not to mention, it’s just better to have legitimate reviews for your business. Even if they’re criticizing you, you can learn something from unhappy customers.

No matter the size or type of business you run, online reviews are imperative to keeping it running successfully. So, go and gather reviews and see just how good the results are!

Michael S.

My firm was rethinking its marketing approach. Our revised plan necessitated a downsizing of the services provided by LinkNow. The LinkNow staff was very helpful in facilitating this change. There was no “hard sell” or other pressure trying to get my firm to maintain its previous higher priced plan. This was a relief and encourages us to look to LinkNow later when we are more appropriately positioned to use LinkNow’s higher priced site optimization/marketing plans.

A concept image of a magnifying glass with a wooden handle on a textured white surface showing the word authentic but magnifying the word fake resembling counterfeitting

Receiving Fake Reviews From Competitors

In this day and age, dishonest companies have been able to stoop to new lows by attempting to damage their competitor’s reputation online with fake reviews.

While it may not be immediately obvious that a competitor is attacking you, a quick check through their other reviews should give you a clue. They are likely attacking other similar businesses in the area. If negative reviews are posted on other competitor’s pages within a tight timeframe, you’ve got the start of a case.

Fake and negative reviews are tricky to deal with. Always do your research before dealing with them, or you may be responding inappropriately to someone who is simply expressing their displeasure. Remember—there is such thing as a legitimate negative review. Take these as constructive criticism, and respond politely.

Tact at All Times

When responding to a fake negative review from your competitor, practice tact at all times. Whether this negative review is legitimate or not, treat it with the same respect. Follow these steps to compose a polite and professional response:

Breathe

Literally. Breathing exercises will calm you down, so take a few deep breaths.

Don’t take it personally.

A difficult one, but part of being a professional.

Address the issue.

Start your response off by repeating their complaint. For example: I understand that you (insert situation here).

State your core values.

Inform the reviewer of your business’ core values and why they don’t match with what happened.

Make a game plan.

Tell the reviewer what you plan to do to remedy the situation. If this is a competitor leaving a fake review, you likely will not actually do this because the situation did not occur. But, existing and potential customers will appreciate seeing what you would do if it really had happened.

Say thank you.

Thank the negative reviewer for their constructive criticism and invite them back to experience your business again in a better light sometime in the future.

Even if you expect this review to be removed, there will be wait time. Writing a proper response is of value to your future clients. Don’t lose business and allow your competitor to accomplish what they came to your review page for in the first place.

Keep on Keeping on

Being a business owner will always come with its ups and downs. This is what professionalism is all about! Practice being a professional adult at all times, flag inappropriate reviews and represent yourself well.

Should Google not agree with your report, you can always escalate the situation, encourage friends and family to flag the reviews as well, and tweet @GoogleSmallBiz to hurry the process along.

Like with school yard bullying, a reaction is always what a troll wants, so give them a minimal one. In the end, you make your own reputation in the business world and can overcome anything by keeping a cool head.

Business Owners’ Bad Review Responses A Case Study

Reviews are a fact of life when it comes to running a business.

They can be your best friend, or your worst enemy—depending on how you deal with them.

While it is tempting to write a scathing and entertaining response to people who leave negative reviews, as a professional, it is your duty to hold your tongue and not let your emotions do the thinking.

Below, are some examples of negative review responses, and how they could have been handled better.

1.

Where to start?

Firstly, admitting that you are inebriated when discussing a business issue is never OK. One shouldn’t be drunk in the first place when you’re on the clock (and yes, if you’re responding to reviews in your own time, that counts), but publicly admitting it is highly unprofessional. Next, making personal critiques (grammar) and suggesting a customer see a psychologist is not constructive. Especially when your own grammar and sanity could be up for review.

A more appropriate response to this review would be to apologize for their bad experience, and address the price issues. If your restaurant does have fluctuating prices, that should be noted in store and online so customers are prepared. There can certainly be reasons for this practice but it should be transparent so customers aren’t surprised.

2.

This one isn’t quite as extreme as the last, and could very well be true. However, this response is tinged with sarcasm and, if true, reveals unnecessary personal information. An apology in this case would have been better—state that you were unavailable for serious personal reasons, list that it was no excuse to not communicate with customers and let them know it won’t happen again. Offer them a discount or other incentive on a future booking should they be in town again.

If for some reason the situation is an emergency that keeps you away from your work, and you don’t have someone who can help you out with your business in this way, maybe think about hiring an assistant.

3.

As a business owner, your responses should not look like it was written by a ten year old

…and this one is a great example of what that means. Sure, this review was not the classiest, but the appropriate response would be to take the higher ground. As always, apologize! If you were having a bad day, admit that you were and say it was wrong of you to take it out on customers. Depending on what the prices are, they could be explained/defended in some way. Maybe point out that your aim is not to be cheap but to provide quality food.

What review responses come down to is the old adage “The customer is always right”. They may really not be, but your job as a business owner is to represent yourself and your company in the best way possible, no matter what others are provoking you to do. Responses can always be formulated to be reasonable even when defending oneself, but if you don’t have the time to compose something that is well thought out, apologies are the best policy.

Happy review reading, everyone!

Why Should Your Small Business Respond to Google Reviews?

garageWhen someone takes time to do something nice, you likely say thank you, almost reflexively. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be saying thank you online either, especially when it comes to Google Reviews.

Responding to Google Reviews can help your business out in more ways than one. Here are some reasons why you should respond to Google Reviews from LinkNow Media:

It’s Good Manners

From someone holding the elevator door to handing you your change, you say thank you many times throughout the day. It’s a nice thing to do and it acknowledges someone’s kindness, no matter how small it might be. If someone writes you a Google review, it only makes sense that you respond with a thank you just as you would in real life. Don’t overthink it. Let them know that you appreciate them taking time out of their day to let others know about your service or product.

It Helps SEO

You may not see the point in responding to something as simple as, “Great place” or “Good service”, but replying can help with your website’s position. After all, it isn’t like someone took a lot of time out of their day to write a long, glowing review. However, responding to a review, no matter how small, will encourage others to leave a review in the future. According to statistics, consumers are more likely to leave a review when they see that the business owner responds to reviews, and the more quality reviews you have, the better your search rankings will be.

It Builds Trust

When people are searching for a service that you offer, they are likely reading reviews from previous customers, and that means bad reviews, too. While receiving harsh criticism is never fun, it always a chance to show how far you will go to right a wrong. Demonstrate your ability to be professional, accept responsibility and offer up a solution.  This will show potential and current clients that your company is focused on client satisfaction.

Final Thoughts

What goes around comes around. If you are being nice online, people will see your kinds words and will think highly of you. Not to mention, being nice has its benefits when it comes online exposure. For instance, you’re always being cyber friendly and encouraging, other companies or clients may follow suite and return the favor!

Relaxation Techniques for Responding to Negative Online Reviews

zenWe talk a lot about the dos and don’ts when it comes to responding to negative reviews, and we always stress the importance of keeping your cool. Today, we’re going to take that advice one step further by providing you with a few relaxation techniques and breathing exercises to keep you level-headed when faced with a scathing review. Follow this advice from LinkNow Media and you can’t go wrong.

Mindfulness app

Stop, Breathe & Think is a guided meditation and mindfulness app that offers breathing techniques with the aim of assisting you in broadening your perspective, getting in touch with your emotions, and improving your reactions to stressful situations. Many of the exercises can be performed in under 10 minutes, so not having time is no excuse! When practiced regularly, this app can help reduce anxiety, increase compassion and enhance motivation. It has everything you need to respond to an unfavourable opinion about your business in a calm manner.

Inhale pink, exhale blue

Inhale pink, exhale blue is a breathing exercise that can regulate stress, relieve tension and improve your mood. This breathing exercise is practiced by bringing your awareness to your breath and imagining yourself inhaling pink and exhaling blue. Another variation of this exercise involves inhaling love and exhaling fear. Whichever one you choose, this awareness will help bring you to the present moment, which is integral to managing the emotional distress of whatever is front of you—in this case, harsh words about your service or product.

Stretch, stretch, stretch

Most people associate stretching with warming up or cooling down after physical exercise as a way improve flexibility and prevent injury. However, stretching can also do wonders for the mind too. This is because stretching regulates your heart rate and blood pressure, helping to promote mental calmness, which is key when it comes to responding to a negative review. Here you can find a handful of yoga poses and stretches that you can do at your work desk. Or, just simply touch your toes. Even something as small as this can help improve your mood to assist you in responding to a negative review without getting defensive.

Final Thoughts

Getting a negative review on Yelp or any other customer review website is never fun. If you are like most people, your response might be to go on the defense, but you need to find ways to avoid doing that. Being defensive isn’t going to help right a wrong, and it certainly won’t win over someone who is upset about your service. When it comes to fixing the problem, you need to remain calm. Exercises like the ones above can help with that, but you’ll need to practice them consistently.

Have you had any success with practices of nature? If so, have they helped other areas of your work life? At LinkNow Media, we’d love to hear about it. Let us know in the comments section below

How Small Businesses Should Respond to Negative Reviews

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When someone leaves a negative review, DON’T PANIC!

There are two reason not to panic:

  • There is probably something you can do to better the situation
  • Everyone is going to have a couple of bad reviews. You could have had a tough customer or it is possible that you made a mistake. You’re only human. However, that doesn’t mean you can sit back and do nothing.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Focus on what the person is concerned about. It may seem completely irrational but you have to remember that the customer needs to be taken seriously. Is it because of something that your company did or did not do? Is it because they did not read the fine print? Take notes.
  • Talk with your team to see what went wrong and why. Was there a misstep or are you dealing with a customer that expected more than you could deliver?
  • When you write a response, make it clear that you hear what they are saying and that you empathize with their situation.
  • Apologize and make sure it is sincere.
  • If you can make amends, then resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
  • Don’t try to defend yourself. It is great in a court of law but what customers want to see is how you resolve problems.
  • Write what you want to say first and then have someone else read it or give it a night and go back to it.

If You Made a Mistake

Own up to it in the response. What most people are looking for in a company is honesty. If you can show that you made an honest mistake and are willing to take steps to fix it, you will regain the trust of potential clients that read the review. This will also give you an opportunity for the client in question to give you a better review.

Make sure to keep a professional tone at all times. If you wish to go into a detailed explanation then try to do so with the client privately first. Explanations can take a lot of back and forth and since you don’t know how the customer will respond it is best to do it through email or in person.

If You Did Not Make a Mistake

It is sad to say but just as there are companies out there that cheat their customers, there are also people who try to blackmail companies into getting free services by using or threatening bad reviews.

In this case, you may just have to face the situation. They are someone who cannot be reasoned with and they just want something for nothing.  To prevent this in the future it may be a good idea to document the work you perform so you can provide a response with evidence at their accusation.  Though these proofs are best done privately through email.

Of course, be professional about it and attempt a response online as well. As long as you come off as being professional then some people who see the review will not automatically believe you are in the wrong.

In the worst-case scenario, you may have to give them something for free but that is up to your discretion.

Contact the company that the review is posted on. There may be able to remove the review if it is vilifying or defamatory.

Concentrate on Getting Positive Reviews

Make sure to ask your clients that appreciate your service to give a review on different platforms. After a job has been completed, perform call backs a while later to see that they are still satisfied. That is a great opportunity to ask for a positive review.

With enough effort, you can start to drown out the negative reviews and get yourself back on track.

There Is a Positive to This Negative

Consumers are becoming savvier with online review sites. If they see that accompany has only 5 and 4 star reviews they may become suspicious that all the comments are manufactured rather than genuine. Having a few bad ones balances out the situation and gives people the impression that you are professionals but also people.

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