Digital technology has revolutionized the way we do business. Consumers conduct product research online, they share information about companies via social media, and they look up contact information on mobile devices. Digital media has also changed how consumers engage in word-of-mouth recommendations, and that means businesses have to adapt their strategies, too.
MarketingProfs recommends the following steps for creating an online review program so your business can harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing. Here’s what to do:
- Ask. One of the most challenging components of any review program involves getting consumers to write a review or testimonial. They take time to write and you have to catch consumers when they have a free moment. That means you need to ask many times before many customers will write a review. Lots of touches will lead to a review, but ask at key times, such as right after a sale or implementation, at renewal time, or after interacting with customer service.
- Repeat. Keep track of customers who’ve already written a review, and periodically ask them to update their review or write a new one. Satisfied customers in particular are a great resource for online reviews.
- Honesty. The best online reviews are heartfelt ones, so make it clear to customers that you want an honest evaluation of their experience with your product or service. In general, people will be motivated to share their experience and have their voice heard, especially if you’re asking for a truthful representation.
- Responsibility. Put your marketing person or team in charge of the program. It makes sense for this area of the business to oversee the online review program and use the reviews in the appropriate spaces.
- Response. To get the reviews you need, don’t limit yourself. Ask the widest possible extension of your customer base and contacts, and realistically you should expect around a 5 percent response rate.
- Quality. What makes a great review? The review should document the actual use of the product, testifying to its benefits or features. The best way to get a quality review is to ask leading questions in order to elicit the kind of response that qualifies your product/service. In addition, MarketingProfs recommend using a grading system to track the best reviews and then promote them on your site.
- Spam. With any online review program, spam is a reality. Whether it’s a competitor or a disgruntled employee, you should have some systems in place to authenticate reviews. Requiring an email, LinkedIn credentials or other social media validates the user. You can also ask for specific details, such as whether the reviewer has purchased and used the product.
Consumers trust online reviews, particularly younger consumers who’ve grown accustomed to using technology to communicate, and they’ve proven to generate brand awareness and interest, increase conversion rates and generate leads. Wouldn’t you be impressed by a positive review that showed up in a search result while hunting around for a service provider? Start your online review program from the bottom up, and watch it grow.