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Megan Rutherford: Sales and Marketing Column

Megan Rutherford: Sales and Marketing Column
Megan Rutherford has a diverse background in sales, marketing, and public relations. She has 15+ years of experience in helping small businesses grow their unique markets. Certified as an inbound marketer, Megan specializes in internet & email marketing, search engine optimization, social media, and more. Offline activities include direct mail marketing, public relations, and event planning.

Gathering Ratings and Reviews

Gathering Ratings and Reviews

Reviews are everything. Many would-be customers turn to the power of the internet to gain information on businesses and not only does a website and social media presence weigh into the mix, but also ratings and reviews. A five-star review can go a long way, whereas a bad review can get a lot of visibility and have a negative impact on both new and returning business. The online performance of a business depends on ratings and reviews. So, what can a business do to gain stellar ratings and reviews that ultimately result in more business?

Onsite vs. Offsite Reviews

With so many buying decisions, consumers are turning to reading (and trusting) online reviews. Whether your business is local or national, reviews should always be encouraged. Personal recommendations are good, but online reviews by strangers can also carry a lot of weight in the eyes of the consumer. Consider the difference between offsite versus onsite reviews and ranking benefits. Depending on the business you are in, the opportunity may be there to have reviews enabled on your website. Additionally, offsite reviews such as Google, Facebook, Yelp, and other sites can also be very beneficial. Any good online review has the ability to create more authority and also help a business rank higher in search engines.

Review and Rating Platforms

Consumer reviews play a significant impact on buying decisions, and more reviews often result in a better conversion rate. There are a wide variety of review platforms that are both business type specific and non-business type specific. Some general business examples are Trustpilot, Real Satisfied, and others. These sites all allow you to send review invitations via email to customers. Restaurants, area attractions, and lodging are rated on sites like TripAdvisor. In the case of real estate top industry-specific review sites are and Zillow. Angie’s List allows reviews for home-related service providers, and the list goes on.

Encouraging Online Reviews

Research has proven that consumers trust a business more after reading positive reviews. With an online-first marketplace today it’s now more critical than ever to encourage reviews on the internet. Online shoppers realize how they utilize reviews and when armed with the knowledge that leaving a review could help your business or there is an incentive for them to leave a review then they are more likely to do it. Think about how many times you have visited a store or had a telephone interaction with a business, and they ask you to complete a survey or leave a review about your experience.

Whether the review is good or bad, it allows insight and possible ways to improve. This is all excellent feedback to any business. While it’s good practice to respond to a review whether it be positive or negative, if a negative review is received it’s crucial to be proactive in response and take immediate action.

Tips and Tricks to Gain Good Reviews

Always ask for a review. Having a personal connection with a customer and asking from person to person can go a long way. Next, make sure that it is easy for a consumer to leave a review. Have links to review websites on the footer of your website (i.e. business Facebook page, Google page, Yelp, etc.). Some people will gladly leave a review from their personal identity whereas others may prefer to remain anonymous and not have their name tied to a specific review. Offer incentives for people to leave reviews. This could be as simple as being entered in a drawing for a chance to win a prize or a discount on their next purchase.

Leveraging online ratings and reviews makes sense for any business, no matter the industry. Strive for the 5-star review and a positive experience shared as opposed to a negative review and lower star rating that can adversely effect business.

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