Is your Review Star Ratings all that you are aiming for? Your customers will dig deeper than that and so should you. What really makes for a great online review?
I wish I could tell you that there’s a “one-size-fits-all” approach to online reputation management.
The reality is that everyone digests online reviews differently.
The woman who’s searching for a new doctor will be looking for different types of information than the man who is deciding on which baby pushchair is best for his 2-year-old.
Online behaviour is a fickle beast. While there’s no denying that people depend on reviews sites more than ever, they are more discerning of the types of reviews that influence their purchasing decisions than they’ve been in the past.
Think about how you sift through reviews when researching a product. If you’re looking to book a reservation at the perfect hotel for your holiday to Bali, what are the important factors that would influence your search?
Some holidaymakers might be focused mainly on price and value, whereas others might require certain amenities or a prime location.
“Review Star Ratings will lure a prospective customer into investigating your reviews, but real persuasion happens in the written content”.
So what constitutes a valuable review for your business?
Here’s what to look for:
★ It has a decent star-rating attached
★ It is substantial, and therefore credible
★ It is recent and corroborated by other, similar opinions
The Review Star Ratings Must Align
It makes sense that review star ratings have the biggest impact on us when we’re browsing reviews. That visual cue is typically the first thing our eyes gravitate towards when comparing different solutions.
The Search for the Great Steak Enchilada
When people read reviews, they typically have a specific need and are either looking for experts to guide their decisions or someone similar to themselves who can inform them on the practical benefits of a product or service.
Imagine coming across a Mexican restaurant listing with 100 reviews, almost all of them with 4 or 5 Review Star Ratings.
You think to yourself, “Oh, this place looks good! It’s not too far from me. It’s in my price range. Seems to be universally liked. I wonder how tasty their steak enchiladas are?”
Then, you begin to read what people actually have to say about their experience at the restaurant and you start to see a common theme:
“This was exactly what I was looking for.”
“Good stuff. Yum Yum.”
Well, they seem to all be positive, but they don’t exactly inform us what’s ‘great’ about the establishment.
More information required than just review star ratings
Has anybody tried the steak enchilada?
I’ve had bad enchiladas before, and I bet I can find a different restaurant that’s known for their enchiladas.
Not all written reviews are created equal. A concrete argument with specific details not only makes the reviewer more trustworthy, in that, you can tell they’ve actually used the product, but a specific detail of the experience might actually help the consumer solve their problem.
In the case of my delicious future steak enchilada, if only I had seen a review specifically mentioning my dish.
“The meat was tender and had a smokey flavour that I didn’t expect! The tortilla was fresh and had a hint of sun-dried tomatoes. Thankfully, they did not skimp on their tangy and spicy chipotle sauce.”
I love chipotle sauce! I’m sold. Blog post timeout. I need to go get some enchilada action.
See how a concrete review had much more value to me than someone simply writing “Yum, Yum”?
One of these things is not like the other
Say you’re looking for the best mini-golf course in town. If you’re going to the coast somewhere, there may be plenty of mini-golf courses to choose from.
You find a local course and see 15 reviews that are all raving about the design of the holes and the creative elements of the course in great detail. Then you see one review that complains about how the course lacks creativity.
People will ignore that one bad review because it doesn’t fit in with what everyone else is saying.
Maybe Happy Gilmore decided to take his aggression online after his evil clown encounter.
You’re likely to think that the 14 similar reviews were onto something, and that one negative review is probably from a chronic whiner, or someone who just had a really bad day and took it out on the poor mini-golf course review listing.
Consistency across reviews adds to the credibility of the golf course. While the outliers might provide a strong argument, and be taken into consideration by consumers, they do not have the same impact on the customer’s perception of the business.
Pro-tip: When you’re prompting a customer for a review, use persuasive copy that highlights the importance of specific reasons why they loved your product.
Good Review Star Ratings but their last review was 3 years ago?
A review from this past week is more important than one last year. There’s nothing more frustrating than sifting through reviews only to realize that the most recent review was in 2017.
A lot can change for a business in one year, let alone three!
A review written after 6 months only has relevance to 16% of people. That means that if you haven’t earned a review in half a year, you’re doing a huge disservice to your business.
Funnelling reviews for your business is an ongoing process. It’s not like you can earn 20 reviews, give yourself a pat on the back, and abandon any efforts to continue to secure online reviews.
Ask and ye shall receive
When companies request reviews, the customer is doing a favour to the business.
Simply asking for a review from a recent customer though isn’t enough. People write reviews to help others, yet the average person doesn’t know what constitutes a good review, let alone how to write one.
Interestingly Yelp gets the best reviews because it forces a minimum number of words. This causes reviewers to really think about what they are are going to say and to describe their experience in more depth.
If you’re asking your customers for reviews, you need to provide a little guidance. By highlighting the importance of the written part of the review, as well as distinctly asking for the customer to address specific attributes of their experience, you’re setting reasonable expectations for your customers to be able to provide valuable reviews.
Do you have any recent reviews that have the type of substance that speaks to potential new customers?
Respond to Reviews to add substance
If there are no recent substantive reviews you may consider fixing that with your response. Most review sites allow you to respond. Going back to the example above, if someone just says “This was exactly what I was looking for”, add information in a response. You could say “We are so glad that you enjoyed our homemade enchiladas and spicy chipotle sauce. In fact, all our ingredients are carefully sourced so that you experience how home-cooked enchiladas should taste.” You can adapt this principle to your own business and introduce terms (keywords) that you want people and Google to associate with your brand.