What's the Best Way to Leverage Online Reviews for Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing: The sheer spectrum of possibilities for lead generation can be daunting. Do you know what it takes to tap into today's top marketing channels? To help readers benchmark their knowledge and get on the right track, we asked industry experts what they saw as the seven most important questions about around inbound marketing today, and how marketers should answer them.
What's the best way to leverage online reviews for inbound marketing—while simultaneously protecting your back?
a. Deal with negative reviews forcefully and be sure to bring in good arguments against every negative comment in a review.
b. The majority of negative reviews can be quashed with the threat of legal action.
c. Stay positive in your responses, even if it kills you, and invest in an online reviews domain on your website to counterbalance others that can't be controlled by your company.
d. Don't get overly concerned about online reviews-few people believe they have any real credibility.
Answer: c. Stay positive in your responses, even if it kills you, and invest in an online reviews domain on your website to counterbalance others that can't be controlled by your company.
Online reviews have become such a powerful force on the Web, businesses ignoring them do so at their own peril. Indeed, according to a 2011 study by Cone, 80 percent of people will change their decision to purchase an item or service based on a bad online review.
Businesses can get a leg-up in the online review world by visiting all the major review services and claiming the free account those services usually offer businesses to monitor and respond to reviews. Yelp, one of the Web's most prominent online review portals, offers such accounts. It's a great way to get acquainted with this aspect of inbound marketing.
If all the reviews posted about your business are positive, lucky you. If there are some negative ones-even just from a few cranks-you need to go into damage control. Key tactics, according to Luther Lowe, director of public policy at Yelp, include staying positive, attempting to resolve any disputes offline via email or phone, and posting a response to the review site if you must-with an apology if you're wrong. Also, offer a proposed, positive solution.
"Responding to current reviews not only shows that you are aware of what the 'voices of the people' are saying, but you are interested in the views of your current customer base," says Jonathan Searle, SEO/SEM consultant with The Pedowitz Group, a Milton, Ga.-based marketing agency.
You can also counterbalance negative reviews by establishing your own reviews domain on your website-service providers like Zuberance, which specializes in promoting only positive reviews, can help.
Plus, for your keyboard-challenged customers/clients, online reviews provider Lobby includes a service that calls your customers, solicits their feedback over the phone, and then transcribes their reviews to text for easy posting online. It also syndicates these reviews-as well as those it secures from people who know how to use keyboards-across the Web, including Facebook, Twitter, Bing, Google and Yelp.