The power of online business reviews
Written by Sarah Rowland
Last updated: 19/09/2016
In today’s digital age, online business reviews can make or break a business, with glowing reviews about value-for-money products and positive customer service experiences holding swaying power over those who choose to invest time and money in your business.
Not only can online reviews help to entice new leads and enquiries directly to your door, they can also improve your organic search rankings and online conversions, and impact purchasing decisions, making them an integral part of your marine marketing strategy.
Yachting Pages explores the power of online business reviews, presenting ideas for generating positive reviews and handling any negative feedback.
Why work to get online reviews for your marine business?
Using proven knowledge of the purchasing cycle, we know that by the time someone has started looking for business reviews online, they have already discovered a want or need for the desired product or service and are looking for a reputable business like yours to help.
Having good online reviews can help these people to feel more confident in doing business with you, and can ultimately give you an edge over the competition and those less-reviewed businesses, so don’t be afraid to ask your clients to give you an online recommendation.
Can online reviews help to improve your search rankings?
Although internet search engines such as Google and Bing have never confirmed that reviews have any impact on organic (unpaid) rankings, evidence says that there is a strong correlation between reviewed businesses and rankings, especially as part of a local SEO strategy.
In fact, Moz’s 2015 report on Local Search Ranking Factors suggests that online reviews are thought to make up 10% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank their search engine results pages (SERPs).
Generating online reviews
When embarking on online review acquisition as part of your marine marketing strategy, it’s worth working to ensure that you are getting the right reviews in the right places.
While there are many general websites and directories that allow customers to leave reviews (Yelp, Google+ Local and Foursquare included), you should think about implementing a strategy to target the review platforms that would work best for you so that you are reaching your clients in the places that they search.
As a marine marketer working within the superyacht industry, this may be a superyacht-specific directory like Yachtingpages.com, and those platforms that focus on your specialism(s) in particular. If your business works across a range of sectors or industries, it’s a good idea to ensure that you are referring the relevant customers to the most appropriate platform, and, if your client base is local, you’ll want to make sure you target local review sites and Google Places.
Take the time to understand the review policies and any terms and conditions (T&Cs) of each platform before adding them in to your marine marketing strategy to ensure that you will be included.
Find existing online reviews, good and bad
It’s also a good idea to carry out a few searches for your business online to find any existing reviews, so that you can respond to them and update your often-outdated profiles here - especially if you are planning to send your customers this way in the near future.
Try typing your business or brand name(s) and your location into any search engine and see what you can find. You could also try some keyword-based searches for your products and services to see what comes back; this way you will be able to add comments and replies to any existing reviews, the good and the bad (more on this later), and scope out your competitors.
As part of your marine marketing strategy, you should make it your job to establish, update and increase your coverage on the top review sites that appear in these searches to get your brand name out there, and to keep a good stream of up-to-date reviews coming in.
Encouraging online reviews
There are a number of ways that you can work to encourage online reviews from your new and existing customers:
Send a polite request or friendly email
As a savvy marine marketer, you’re likely to be carrying out regular account management and gathering satisfaction surveys somewhere within your business already. A polite request the next time you speak, perhaps during a routine phone call or a friendly email, is an ideal time to request that review. If you are seeing them face-to-face then even better.
Create a web page, email signature, business card or flyer
It’s also an option to create a small reminder notification on your website homepage or dedicated web page on your website or e-newsletter to request reviews and testimonials. Furthermore, you could create a business card or flyer with further instructions for reviewing your marine business online. It’s also a good idea to include a handy link in your email signature that takes willing customers directly to your chosen review platform.
Responding to negative online reviews
To get ahead of the curve of any newly added feedback online, we recommend setting up a service like Google Alerts to send a notification any time your business is mentioned around the web.
Of course, it would be great if customers came to your business directly with their feedback and complaints before leaving any negative reviews online, but if you receive a negative online review, first remember:
Don’t: Get mad or upset and act without proper thought to the end result.
Don’t: Reach out to the review platform and request the review to be taken down.
Reviews are a place for both positive and negative feedback. Review platforms are therefore a place for both good and bad opinions, and any bad reviews need to be seen as a positive; after all, we all need feedback on our products and services to evaluate and improve.
Publically responding to negative reviews to address customer issues shows that you are a credible business, dedicated to offering a good service. It happens to the best of us, as you won’t see a hotel or restaurant on TripAdvisor without at least a few negative reviews.
Do: Take a moment to think about your reply - you should deal with the negative review as you would any general criticism.
Do: Treat the review as a conversation - diffuse the situation and offer to rectify the situation or compensate for any issues experienced.
Do: End with briefly highlighting the positives and benefits of the products or services that the customer received - perhaps you could ask them to add a second review to highlight your complaints capability and the renewed outcome.
Hootsuite provide some further tips to responding to negative online reviews, here.
On-going review strategy
When neglected, collating and managing customer reviews online can become a difficult job. With an on-going review strategy included as part of your marine marketing, it becomes easier to manage reviews and ensure that no negative assessment is left unanswered.
Work to encourage online reviews over time continually so that you do not receive too many to manage; this is also great for ensuring that your reviews are recent and up-to-date for anyone who may wish to find out more before doing business with you.
How marine business reviews work on Yachting Pages
Reviews are a big part of our superyacht search engine, Yachtingpages.com. The most recent reviews can be found on the home page; search results can be ordered to display businesses by rating; and reviewed businesses can be searched independently of un-reviewed businesses. These options offer reviewed businesses great opportunity for additional exposure on our website.
All businesses listed on Yachtingpages.com have the ability to reply to reviews left on their business listings. Furthermore, our online advertisers can work closely with our in-house reviews expert in order to generate, promote and manage their business effectively on our website, taking some of the hassle out of online reviews – just ask by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.