Review Generation vs Online Reputation Management: Discover the Difference and Learn the Playbook that will Protect Your Brand
Over the past decade, businesses of all sizes have become more and more aware of the real impact online customer reviews can have on their overall brand, and ultimately their bottom line. A recent study showed that 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses before making a purchase. The power of word-of-mouth is greater than ever, and competition has grown more fierce as a result of this. With the advent of this evolution into a more customer-centric marketplace, two important and effective strategies have emerged: Review Generation and Online Reputation Management.
While Review Generation has proven to be a useful tactic, it’s really only one trick in the much greater playbook that encompasses Online Reputation Management. We explore the differences between the two, and discuss the many ways a full-service Online Reputation Management strategy works to help protect your brand and beat the competition.
Strength in Numbers: The Philosophy Behind Review Generation
The primary focus of Review Generation is quantity. This is done by integrating an automated system that sends review requests to your customers via email or text message. The average customer will only go out of their way to voice their opinions online after experiencing a negative interaction at an establishment. Satisfied customers, on the other hand, will sometimes need a friendly reminder to leave a review. A Review Generation tool accomplishes this through email and SMS messaging, and can be customized to direct your happy customers to the review site of your choosing. That way you can focus your attention on the directories that need the most improvement. The same automated system can also be used to prevent negative reviews from appearing online. Angry customers will instead be directed to an online survey, where they can have a safe place to vent without having to criticize your business publicly.
The number of reviews that appear on your online listings not only influence your customers; they can influence search engines as well. Business listings with a higher review count will be rewarded by major directories like Google by placing those businesses higher on local search result rankings. Although Review Generation has proven to be a simple and effective strategy, it really only skims the surface. Online Reputation Management is a multi-faceted strategy that not only addresses Review Quantity; it approaches your online presence from every angle.
Online Reputation Management: The Playbook for Protecting Your Brand
Where Review Generation focuses on Quantity, Online Reputation Management encompasses the overall Quality of your brand identity as a whole. A full-service online reputation management strategy covers multiple areas to monitor and improve your online presence:
- Positive Review Generation
- Removal of Fake or Illegitimate Reviews and Photos
- Local SEO, Citations and Duplicate Listings
- Social Media
- Business Owner Responses
- Monitor Reviews and Ratings
Negative Review and Photo Removal:
While Review Generation is effective in increasing review quantity, and helps to suppress some of the negative content, it doesn’t take into account the fake or illegitimate reviews that are unfairly affecting your overall business rating online. By seeking out, reporting, and removing the reviews that violate the content guidelines established by the online review sites, you will be maintaining the integrity of your online presence, building brand trust with your audience, and of course, improving the average star rating of your business. Inappropriate photos can likewise influence potential customers to avoid your business, so it’s important to report these as well. Reviews with a higher rate of removal include:
- Spam or promotional material
- Personal rant from a former employee
- Reviews written by a competitor
- Reviews for the wrong location
Unlike the automated system of Review Generation, Negative Review Removal is a hands-on process that requires a familiar knowledge of user content guidelines and constant communication with support representatives. A Harvard Study showed that a one-star increase in star rating leads to a 5-9 percent increase in revenue. By ignoring the fake or illegitimate negative reviews on your listing, you are depriving your business of the star rating you really deserve. Weed out the negative content from your online listings, be it an illegitimate review or inappropriate photo, and you’ll have an even greater edge over the competition.
Local SEO, Citations and Duplicate Listings
If you have not done so already, it’s important to start making sure your online listings are verified across all local directories. This is the first step in your effort to optimize your online listings to appeal to search engine algorithms and improve your local rankings. A local citation is any mention of your business on an online directory, and all pertinent information that comes with it— your business name, website, address, phone number, hours of operation, additional business details, and any keywords associated with your business.
Along with the big three Important review sites, it’s important to take into account auxiliary directories like Bing, Yellow Pages, and Citysearch. Check to make sure that all your business information is mirrored across every online listing. In addition to maximizing every listing for content, you also need to seek out and remove the duplicate citations that could have been created or automatically generated online. Nowadays, search engines are intuitive enough to see which businesses actually take the time to validate their listings, remove their duplicates, and confirm that all business information is consistent across the board. For your effort, you will be rewarded with a higher ranking in search results, and a greater chance of being found by potential customers in your local area.
When used correctly, Social Media can be used as a tool to grow your audience and connect with your customers on a more personal level. Post regularly to keep your customers engaged and use this as an opportunity to create a personality for your brand identity. You can even share positive testimonials that will not only add to the buzz about your business, but can also encourage satisfied customers to leave you a positive review if they haven’t done so already. Facebook, in particular, serves as both a Social Media Network and a Local Business Listing, so it’s important to treat it as such by optimizing your business information and matching the content with all other local citations for consistency.
Business Owner Responses
Responding to all of your reviews, both positive and negative, is another highly recommended strategy for building trust and shaping your online presence. As is the case with Social Media, Business Owner Responses create a more intimate relationship with your audience. To respond to a positive review, all it takes is a sentence or two to express your gratitude. Responding to negative reviews requires a more careful approach. Express your sympathy without admitting fault, and find a way to take the conversation offline by offering to reach out to the unhappy customer privately. An underutilized strategy is to use your response as an opportunity to implement relevant keywords that will help improve your online rankings organically. Be aware that customers do pay attention to the way businesses handle their responses. It takes practice and skill to develop a response that sounds genuine, and at the same time satisfies the emotional needs of your customers.
Monitor Reviews and Ratings
The old school method of monitoring business reviews and ratings was to bookmark the links to every online directory, and to click through them one-by-one. This can get tedious and cumbersome especially for a business dealing with multiple locations. An easier and more effective way to monitor your online reviews and ratings is to consolidate your business listings into one online dashboard. Advanced Reputation Management dashboards will allow you to not only view your reviews, but respond to them as well. You can also set up your dashboard to receive notifications when a business listing receives a new review, or when a negative illegitimate review has been removed. For businesses with multiple locations, you will be able to manage admin roles and establish tiers to limit access to different users.
You can’t rely on one play to win the game. Review Generation alone will be like throwing Hail Marys all day. You need a more strategic approach. You need to play Offense and Defense. You need all hands on deck, the coaching staff, the players, and most importantly the fans in the stands to cheer for your brand and keep you in the elite tier of teams competing for a championship. With full-service Online Reputation Management you’ll have the full playbook right at your fingertips: Review Generation, Negative Review Removal, Local SEO, Social Media, and more.