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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!

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!

    Online Review Stats in 2017

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    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?

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    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.

    What Marketers Should Know About Online Reviews

    online reviews

    In this age of the Internet, lots of things are being re-thought especially the way in which we market products and services. Whether you’re a small business or a large one, the same suggestions apply.

    The pre-Internet consumer would compare brands and were fully dependent on information provided by manufacturers. While some brand names still carry weight, the importance of brand names in general have diminished, with consumers favoring opinions from experts and users.

    The current consumer relies on user-generated reviews, expert opinions and peer to peer information in general.

    So, where does the marketer stand in all of this? While they don’t have full say over what information consumers have available to them, by working with an influence mix they can be more effective than ever.

    The influence mix consists of prior preference and experience, information from marketers and consumer reviews.

    Prior Preference and Experience

    This applies to products that are habitually bought, like toothpaste and toilet paper. Customers are going to be influenced by what they themselves have done in the past more than anything else. These products are review-independent and feature luxury items as well.

    Information From Marketers

    Right in the middle, information from marketers can fall into review-independent products and review-dependent ones as well. However, someone purchasing a review-independent product is more likely to take this information into account, as they’re not looking for reviews to tell them something similar.

    Consumer Reviews

    The consumer’s reliance on reviews is most prevalent with products they can’t test themselves. All products follow a continuum. For example, before purchasing electronics buyers will pay close attention to what previous purchasers have had to say before taking any chances. But when buying from a chain restaurant, they rarely have reason to look it up since they already know what they’re going to get.

    Market research is more important than ever. Figure out how your market is getting their information and making their purchasing decisions, and you’ll be able to decide from there the best way to follow through with marketing. With the rise of reviews, branding takes on less importance, making it easier entry for newcomers and for anyone to diversify more easily.

    Did you know, 30% of U.S. consumers say they begin their online purchase research by going to Amazon.com to read through reviews? And 79% of Americans now shop online. With a market that big it’s not one you want to miss out on. Whether or not your product or service can be directly purchased online doesn’t matter. If you can benefit from reviews, make sure you’re getting them.

    To properly use reviews, make note of these points:

    Do:Track and quantify information from forums and review sites.

    Don’t: Measure individual preferences, satisfaction and loyalty.

    While some believe that reviews are going the way of the dinosaurs with more fake ones cropping up every day, that’s not truly the case. Review websites are coming up with ways to certify reviews and crack down on the fakers, making reviews more reliable than ever.

    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!

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