How to Influence Customers Through Online Reviews

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Trust matters, particularly in the “fake news” era, and consumers are getting smarter in how they research the brands and products they buy. Rather than relying on the information in website pop-up ads and marketing pitches, consumers are leaning more heavily on online reviews. This is especially true for gen-Xers and millennials, who ranked online reviews as the No. 1 most trusted source for accurate product information in a 2016 survey by Salesforce.

Of course, not all reviews are created equal. Certain reviews, or reviewers, come off as more authentic than others, and high-quality review sites inspire more trust in readers. As major brands look to capitalize on the most effective and trustworthy ad formats, they’d be smart to refine their strategies for managing online reviews. Here are six ideas that brand marketers should keep in mind as they look for new ways to influence the way consumers interact with their online reviews.

1. Ask customers to mention employees by name “Businesses should ask their customers to mention the name of the employees who worked with them, as it helps with storytelling and brings authenticity to the review. This helps establish trust as people connect best with people. Many review sites are against soliciting customers for reviews and prefer them to be authentic. It’s most effective to kindly ask for customers to please write a review mentioning the employee name if they were satisfied.” (Sean Standberry, LYFE Marketing)

2. Get customers posting on the right platforms “Make sure you are identifying review platforms where your buyers are most active and most likely to write a review. For example, if a customer has a Gmail account, you can send them an email after making a purchase that directs them to a Google review page where they can write a review without having to create a new account or sign in.” (Gary Galloway, Netsertive)

3. Give customers a way to leave reviews at the POS “Companies should explain how important reviews are for their business, ask for honest feedback, and suggest writing them for the review sites that matter most to them. But the most important thing is to make it very easy for them to review the business—whether it’s kiosks or even iPads that let customers review at the point of sale or a simple email request.” (Rich Matta, ReputationDefender)

4. Ensure Facebook testimonials are accurate “With so much purchasing power leaning on online reviews, [businesses] need to put a greater emphasis on ensuring testimonials on Facebook, Google and Yelp are accurate and informational. Inaccurate reviews can occur when customers mistakenly review the wrong dealership or write a phenomenal review but give a low rating. It’s important for companies to do their due diligence and ensure that the rating reflects the experience.” (Gary Galloway, Netsertive)

5. Take advantage of controllable content “Because business owners can’t directly control what reviewers write in each review, it’s vital to focus on the aspects of their online presence which they can control. For example, if you own a business and you’ve taken the time to add rich photos of your storefront and products to your business profile, write out detailed information about what you specialize in, and make sure your hours, address, and website are all accurate. Then you’re checking off all the boxes of controllable content you can provide for your customers.” (Darnell Holloway, Yelp)

6. Acknowledge complaints “If there are complaints on the reviews page, customers like to see that the company has acknowledged the issue and is working to have it resolved. Simply saying that they’re working to hire more service people if there was a long wait for an oil change, per say, goes a long way. Further, customers expect to see up-to-date information. It’s very important to keep these correspondences conversational, with a consistent voice, aiming to engage with customers in a deliberate way.” (Gary Galloway, Netsertive)

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.



Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.