Online review management involves building a digital public image one online review at a time. Doing so will mean that anyone searching for your brand will discover recent feedback and examples of positive customer experiences that paint your company in the best possible light.
What is a review management system?
A review management system is a tool that helps you to manage your online reputation.
You can use a review management system to request reviews from consumers, monitor for new reviews, respond to reviews, and showcase the best reviews on your website and other owned media channels.
How do you manage reviews?
Online review management covers four core areas:
- Generating reviews
- Monitoring reviews
- Responding to reviews
- Showcasing reviews
For effective review management, you’ll need to have a plan in place to tackle a range of tasks. Within that plan, you should have processes in place to:
- deploy online review management tools and software to easily solicit reviews from customers and distribute them to popular online review sites;
- add review schema markup to your website;
- be proactive about asking customers to leave online reviews for your business (68% of consumers will leave a local business review when asked to do so);
- respond to both positive and negative reviews to either thank the customer for their great feedback or address the concern they’ve raised; and
- promote your positive reviews to draw attention to your customer feedback (such as sharing on social media, posting on websites, creating banners, including in e-newsletters, paid ads, etc.).
How to Generate Reviews
When it comes to online reviews, the recency of reviews matters as much as the quantity to consumers and search engine algorithms alike.
The best way to boost your review count — and ensure you have a steady stream of new reviews — is simply to ask.
Related: Free Online Video Course – ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Generating and Managing Reviews‘
One easy way to do this is to set up an automated email that goes to consumers soon after their purchase or visit. Your request should thank the customer for their business and request that they leave a review to share their experience. Be sure to include a link to your review platform (or platforms) of choice.
If your favored review platform offers a widget, you can install this small piece of code on your site to display a button inviting visitors to review your business.
How to Monitor Online Reviews
If you don’t have reputation management software, general review sites along with niche review platforms will need to be monitored manually. This could mean you need to set up a Google Alert, conduct brand searches on Google, physically visit your key review platforms regularly, or use a social listening tool — such as Hootsuite — to keep an eye on what people are saying about you online.
To monitor performance and find out about new reviews, it’s often much easier, quicker, and more effective to use an online reputation management tool like BrightLocal’s Reputation Manager. This is especially true if your business is present on lots of review sites or you’re managing multiple locations.
When it comes to reputation management, online review frequency matters, so you’ll also want to be as creative as possible to generate the maximum number of reviews.
Adding a link to the bottom of your email signature, so it’s easy for all email recipients to review your business, can be an effective way of boosting your review profile. It also pays to regularly request reviews via social media posts.
If you have a physical brick-and-mortar store, you could hand out cards requesting a review be left for you at the register, or have a tablet set up by the exit with your preferred review platform loaded up. This will encourage customers to leave a review right then and there.
For restaurants, hotels, and bars, you can use printed flyers or cards to invite guests to leave a review. Tripadvisor has a library of items that you can order to help prompt consumers to review your business, including stickers, cards, and check inserts.
How to Respond to Online Reviews
It’s no secret that today’s consumers use reviews to make a choice when selecting a local business. What may be surprising, is that consumers increasingly make a point of reading business responses to reviews. 89% of consumers are highly or fairly likely to use a business that responds to reviews, so this simple act can have a direct impact on your bottom line.
Left unanswered, negative reviews can be hugely detrimental to your online reputation. So, you’ll want to reply promptly to address concerns raised and attempt to restore confidence in your business (you can find our tips for responding to negative reviews here).
Replying to reviews can be as simple as creating a few different templates to thank each customer for their feedback. Make sure each response is personalized to reference the reviewer’s name and refer to specific points they raised in their review. As a starting point try:
- Thanks so much for your feedback [name of reviewer]. We’re delighted to hear we were able to help!
- Hi [reviewer name] — we’re happy to hear that you enjoyed your visit and look forward to welcoming you back again soon!
- Hello [reviewer name] it’s great to hear that you enjoyed the [service or product]. Thank you for sharing your feedback!
- Hi [reviewer name] thank you for your kind review and detailed feedback. We’re glad to hear you appreciated [insert points from review]. Your comments help us to improve and we hope to see you again soon.
How to Showcase Online Reviews
Because reviews are so important in aiding consumer decision-making, you’ll want to showcase five-star reviews on your own site. This will serve as a conversion optimization tool and provide social proof.
Many review platforms offer widgets that you can install on your site to showcase your most recent reviews. This is a piece of code you’ll copy from the review platform and paste onto any page on your site (such as your homepage or service pages). This will then show your reviews.
A tool like Reputation Manager can be used to automate the process of sharing your best reviews with your site visitors.
A final option is to manually add your favorite reviews to your website. However, this process is the least efficient, as you’ll need to regularly set time aside to update the reviews you showcase.
How do you manage online reviews?
Now that you can answer the question, “What is online review management?”, you can embark upon the process of managing online reviews.
An effective strategy will allow you to consistently work through each of these four core elements of review management. This means you’ll have a process in place to generate reviews, consistently monitor the content of those reviews so you can pinpoint problems before they escalate, have a process for responding to reviews, and make great use of this social proof by showcasing your strongest, most recent reviews on your site.