| Apr 26, 2023 | | 10 min read

Online business reviews: 10 ways to manage reviews more effectively in 2023


Today, you can be certain that your client’s audience is finding them online. Most consumers — about 92 per cent—read online business reviews before making a purchasing decision, and 40% form their opinions of a business after reading just one to three reviews (Vendasta). Whether your clients know it or not, their business and reputation is on trial every single day. Having an effective system to manage reviews for local businesses will help you create resilient, positive brand reputations that deliver results for your clients.

Find out how to capitalize on a good review and minimize the damage of a bad one. Download these review response templates now.

Popular review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor host over a billion combined reviews, and if you consider the more than 3 billion users on Facebook and Twitter, there's a good chance your clients are the subject of many online reviews. In other words, their online reviews management better be up to snuff or their reputation—and their bottom line—could be in trouble.

What is online business reviews management?

Online business reviews management refers to the process of monitoring, analyzing, and responding to customer feedback on online platforms such as Google, Yelp, brand websites, and social media. Online reviews significantly influence consumer purchasing decisions, and managing them is a must for businesses that want to maintain and enhance their online reputations.

Online reviews management involves several key activities that help businesses effectively manage their reputations, gain valuable insights, and drive sales. Let’s take a closer look at each of these activities:

Online reviews management generally involves activities like

  • Review monitoring across platforms in real-time to understand customer sentiment.
  • Providing responses to negative reviews as well as positive ones in a timely and professional manner.
  • Leveraging positive feedback and good review comments to strengthen the brand's reputation by sharing or otherwise amplifying those reviews.
  • Addressing problems revealed in negative reviews proactively to minimize their potential to impact the perception of a business, and taking advantage of negative reviews to demonstrate responsiveness and customer service.
  • Implementing a plan to improve online reviews and generate a larger volume of reviews across different platforms where the business’s audience might see them.
  • Analyzing online business reviews to gauge information that can be used in decision-making.

Effective online review management not only protects a business's reputation, and boosts revenue, but it also provides valuable, current insights into customer satisfaction and areas for improvement. This feedback can help businesses make data-driven decisions about their products, services, and customer experience.

How does it differ for small business reviews?

Online review management can benefit businesses of all sizes, from scrappy one-person startups to well-resourced organizations with dozens or hundreds of employees. However, there are significant differences in how small and large businesses manage online business reviews. When managing reviews for local businesses and SMB clients, it helps to understand how their needs and opportunities differ from their larger counterparts.

Limited resources

Simply put, small businesses often have more limited resources to dedicate to managing their online business reviews, making it challenging to monitor and respond to reviews in a timely manner. They need user-friendly solutions that enable them to handle multi-platform review management easily.

Online business reviews may have a greater impact on SMBs

For large businesses, a few negative reviews aren’t necessarily going to shift customer perceptions significantly because they already have a well-established reputation. However, negative reviews can have a more significant impact on small businesses since they typically have fewer reviews to start with, and audiences may not know much about them yet.

Niche markets

Since small businesses may be operating in niche markets, it’s possible that they’ll need to pay more attention to niche-specific, small platforms for review generation and management. This way, they can improve their chances of being discovered by audiences who are most interested in their product or service.

Nimbleness and responsiveness

An area in which small businesses tend to have an edge over larger counterparts are in their ability to be flexible and nimble in response to feedback. A large business may require a great deal of time and effort to change a product in response to negative reviews, while a small business is more likely to be able to respond swiftly. This adaptability to changing customer needs based revealed in online business reviews can help small businesses maximize the benefits of online reviews management.

6 reasons why online business reviews for local companies are essential

The internet is full of distractions, and local businesses need to prioritize activities that help them stand out amid the noise and create a positive overall impression.

As humans, we all place more faith in authentic, personal product recommendations than in advertisements. Today, customer reviews largely play the function of personal recommendations, since they are perceived as coming from unbiased peers with similar needs. That’s why reviews have become an indispensable tool for businesses to establish their value proposition, boost brand image, and ultimately land more sales. Let’s take a look at exactly why reviews for local businesses should be a high priority.

Increased visibility and discoverability

An essential factor that determines a business's online discoverability is its presence on search engines like Google. Search engines prioritize websites with a greater number of reviews and higher ratings since they logically perceive them to be more reliable, high-quality, and relevant to users' needs. By accumulating a healthy number of positive small business reviews, local businesses can improve their search engine rankings, making it easier for their ideal client to find them.

Enhanced credibility and trust

Consumers naturally rely on the experiences and opinions of others when evaluating a product or service. Reviews function as social proof, validating the quality of a business's offerings. A substantial number of positive small business reviews instill confidence in potential customers and generally foster trust in a local business. This trust ultimately translates into a higher likelihood of conversion and customer retention.

Actionable consumer insights

Online business reviews provide invaluable insights into customers' experiences, preferences, and expectations that could otherwise remain unknown. By closely monitoring and analyzing feedback, businesses can identify trends and patterns that inform their marketing strategies and drive improvements to their products or services. This customer-centric approach leads to better customer satisfaction and can also give local businesses a more substantial competitive edge.

Word-of-mouth marketing benefit

Word-of-mouth marketing is widely acknowledged as one of the most effective forms of advertising. People tend to trust personal recommendations from friends, family, or acquaintances more than any other form of marketing (Nielsen). Reviews are effectively a digital form of word-of-mouth marketing, amplifying the reach of satisfied customers' positive experiences. By encouraging customers to share their experiences, local businesses can generate more leads, boost brand awareness, and create a buzz around their products or services.

Improved customer engagement

Encouraging customers to leave reviews creates an opportunity for businesses to engage with them and demonstrate their commitment to customer satisfaction. Responding to both positive and negative reviews with a personalized and thoughtful approach showcases a business's dedication to addressing customers' concerns and improving their experiences. This proactive engagement can foster customer loyalty, turning one-time customers into brand ambassadors.

Speed up the customer decision-making process

For many consumers, the decision-making process can be time-consuming and overwhelming, especially with a vast array of options available. Reviews help to streamline this process by providing potential customers with firsthand accounts of the experiences of others. This information helps consumers quickly evaluate a product or service's suitability and make informed decisions, ultimately saving them time and effort—and landing SMBs more conversions.

10 ways to manage reviews more effectively

1. Improve online reviews: Know how to respond

The tone and choice of words when responding to a review, particularly a negative one, are crucial. Avoid engaging in public arguments with an angry reviewer, since this can only lead to reputational damage when prospective customers see the response as uncaring and rude.

Instead, respond politely and provide a solution—an offer, refund, or acknowledgment—that can potentially transform a disgruntled customer into a satisfied one.

2. Improve online reviews by responding quickly

It's critical to respond to reviews as fast as you can. Bad reviews can spread like a disease; responding to it quickly—whether it be through awesome customer service or handling the comment behind closed doors—goes a long way in preventing further damage.

Plus, responding promptly to reviews, negative or positive, shows other customers you're attentive and lets others know you care about their experience with your business.

3. Improve online reviews with social marketing

Give the huge influence of social media on shoppers’ buying decisions, connecting with reviewers and followers on social media can be an effective way to generate more reviews, and just as importantly, to get those reviews seen by online audiences.

It’s worth noting that social marketing has evolved a great deal over the last decade, with audiences increasingly sniffing out staged, inauthentic reviews, and seeking authentic, unpolished content instead. To get more of these impactful social reviews, it is essential for businesses to focus on building genuine relationships with their customers and engaging with them on a personal level.

Local businesses can encourage user-generated content by hosting contests, asking open-ended questions, and fostering a sense of community around their brands. They can also share customer stories and experiences to demonstrate the real impact of their products or services. By prioritizing authenticity and transparency in social marketing efforts, businesses can encourage more engaging content and cultivate trust and loyalty among their audience, leading to more influential and persuasive social reviews.

4. Improve online reviews by keeping reviews up to date

Fresh and relevant reviews are essential for healthy business results. Not only do they strengthen online presence but they directly impact sales conversions—43% of consumers prefer to see over 100 reviews for a product they are interested in (Search Engine Journal).

Using a tool that puts the review generation process on autopilot is the most effective way for local businesses to generate more positive reviews. By automatically requesting reviews from customers at the moment they’re most likely to be motivated to respond, SMBs can ensure that the reviews on their website and other platforms are always current.

5. Call for backup to improve online reviews

Not every local business has the experience, tools, or resources to manage its online reviews. As an agency, offering DIFM or DIWM™ services is a great way to expand your suite of services and tap into a new revenue stream. This way, clients can be as hands-on or hands-off as they like, and you have something to offer businesses across a range of budgets.

6. Use review management tools to improve reviews

Many agencies and media companies are turning to reputation management solutions to help their clients monitor, generate, and manage reviews. These tools make it possible to respond to reviews across a large number of platforms from a single dashboard, saving businesses time and ensuring no review falls through the cracks.

7. Encourage customers to leave reviews

Local businesses should actively encourage customers to share their experiences. This can be a multi-pronged effort that includes follow-up emails, social media, and integrating a review prompt on their website. The more reviews they receive, the more their online reputation is likely to grow, along with all the benefits that come with it.

8. Improve online reviews by analyzing them for actionable insights

Monitor and analyze reviews to identify patterns, trends, and areas of improvement. By addressing customer concerns and working to enhance your products or services, businesses can be confident they are progressing in a direction their customers will approve of.

9. Improve online reviews by showcasing positive ones

Leverage positive reviews by featuring them prominently on brand websites, social media, and marketing materials. Highlighting positive experiences can help instill confidence in prospective customers, helping businesses get more juice out of each good review comment.

10. Develop a robust review management strategy

Take the guesswork out of review management by establishing a clear strategy for local businesses to use. This can outline how to handle different scenarios, what kind of language to use, when to make review removal requests, and which response template to use for particular situations. A well-defined strategy can help maintain consistency and ensure that all team members understand how to manage reviews effectively.

Offer these tips to your local business clients as a way for them to manage their reviews, or build your services around doing it for them. We’ve created Reputation Management to help you generate more reviews and manage them effortlessly. For local businesses, this rebrandable solution can transform a barely-existing review strategy into an SEO-boosting, reputation-growing, and revenue-generating machine.

About the Author

Jamie is a former Demand Generation Strategist, specializing in advertising campaign development and lead generation communications. When he's not cracking codes on Facebook and Adwords, Jamie loves playing with his Siberian Forest cats, and going for walks.

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