Need Help With Online Reviews?
It’s a Buyer’s Market
By Joe Dysart
Businesses looking to quickly beef up the number of reviews that appear about them on the major review websites—as well as on their own digital properties—are in luck. There are currently dozens of service providers vying for a chance to significantly increase the number of positive reviews your business enjoys online.
It’s a buyer’s market for businesses looking for help managing online reviews.
“Consumers have more power than ever before, and they aren’t afraid to use it,” said Joe Fuca, CEO of Reputation (https://reputation.com), a service provider that helps businesses manage and generate reviews in the digital marketplace. “Customer feedback management is no longer a nice-to-have technology. It is now a critical business necessity.”
As most businesses already know, online reviews can easily make or break your business, and they’re often seen as being as influential as word-of-mouth recommendations from friends, relatives and colleagues. Indeed, 94% of consumers say positive reviews make them more likely to use a business, according to a 2021 BrightLocal Study (www.brightlocal.com/research/local-consumer-review-survey).
Only 48% of consumers said that they would skip doing business with an organization that has less than a four-out-of-five-star average rating on a reviews website, according to the same study. Moreover, 79% of consumers said that they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from a friend or family member, and 60% of consumers said that they made their decision about dealing with a business after reading mobile-friendly reviews on their smartphones or similar portable computing devices, according to BrightLocal.
Fortunately, the cost for getting help ensuring that your business ends up with a great “like” rating in the world of online reviews is reasonable. Starting at less than $50 a month, online-review service providers generally enable a business to monitor, manage and generate reviews online from a single dashboard. That can be a major timesaver for a business that is dealing with a few bad reviews and is looking for an efficient way to deal with the problem—or is simply looking to raise its profile when it comes to online reviews.
“Reviews play a key role in helping consumers to feel able to trust a business,” said Rosie Murphy, research and content manager for BrightLocal. “Companies with a poor review profile could be denying themselves a vast number of new leads without ever knowing that a consumer considered them.”
Again, with so many online-reviews service providers looking to do business with you, the good news is that you can look forward to a number of helpful and often extremely sophisticated solutions for maintaining and soliciting online reviews on even the most basic of online reviews platforms.
Key features to look for in any service provider offering to help manage and trigger online reviews for your business include the following:
Reviews That Publish on Your Own Website, too: Getting a slew of positive reviews on major review websites such as Google, Facebook and Yelp! is of course critically important, but so is the option to enable satisfied customers to post a glowing review of their experience with your company on your own website. After all, that’s where your business does a lot of its selling.
Auto-Posts to Major Review Sites Such as Google, Facebook and Yelp!: The best online review software packages enable you to solicit customer reviews for your own website and then go on to auto-post those same reviews on the major review websites—an extremely powerful, must-have feature.
Reviews That Post Easily: Actually posting a review using online review software sometimes requires too many clicks, points and sub-decisions. The best packages enable a customer to post a review with just a click or two after receiving an invitation to post.
Mobile Friendly: Given that most people live a significant part of their lives on their smartphones these days, any online-review service must work extremely easily on a smartphone.
Innovative Review Solicitation: While most review service providers can solicit your customers via email, others can also reach out to customers via text messaging to their smartphones, online chat and over social media. The more options for solicitation, the better.
Over-Solicitation Safeguards: Yes, every company loves getting great reviews, but review solicitation can go overboard if your business keeps hammering its customers for a review with relentless emails and the like. Even worse is when a customer leaves a glowing review and then is still hammered with requests to leave a review after the fact. Safeguards against over-solicitation are something you really want to nail down with your provider.
Tight Integration With Your Other Business Software: Gone are the days when online review services were a standalone option. These days, many services are bending over backward to ensure that their software seamlessly integrates with your customer relationship management software, content management software, office suites and even software that is specifically designed for your industry.
Customizable Reports: Most online review packages also come with predesigned reports and alert systems that you’ll come to rely on regularly. As you become more familiar with a package, you may want to be able to design your own custom reports. Fortunately, many packages offer that solution built in.
Monitoring of Competitor Reviews: Nearly as important as what’s being said about your business is what people are saying about your competitors. Some packages include that feature. It offers you powerful insights into online reviews that detail your competitors’ triumphs and stumbles.
Analytics to Track Customer Sentiment Over Time: A sophisticated offering, the ability to monitor and study overall customer sentiment over time—as gleaned from the reviews they post—can be a powerful customer service, marketing and planning tool for you.
A Deep Library of Video Tutorials: While not a must-have, a deep library of easy-to-understand video tutorials on how to get the most from an online review service can be a boon to a company looking to quickly train key personnel on how to work with the software platform.
Once you’ve put together a list of the key features you consider vital in any online review service you’d consider for your business, you’ll find that there are a number of websites that offer you hundreds of ratings and evaluations of these services, including:
Meanwhile, here’s a representative sampling of the top five online review service providers that have been reviewed by more than 100 users on software rater Capterra:
Swell (www.swellcx.com): Starts at $199 per month. Key feature: Enables your customer to leave a review with just one click.
Vendasta: (www.vendasta.com): Starts at $42 per month. Key feature: Offers online review generation and management as one of more than 250 business apps, so if you like the way they handle online reviews, you may like their solutions for other business processes.
NiceJob (https://get.nicejob.com): Starts at $75 per month. Key feature: NiceJob will create a website for your business with online reviews management and reviews solicitation built in.
Podium (www.podium.com): Call for pricing. Key feature: Enables you to easily solicit reviews for your business via mobile phone text messaging.
Reputation (www.reputation.com): Call for pricing. Key feature: Enables you to monitor and respond to customer feedback across hundreds of review websites using a single dashboard and using preconfigured response templates. Reputation also enables you to track consumer sentiments about your company over time using review analytics.
Joe Dysart is an internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan.