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Review monitoring: Best tools and why your business needs it

First impressions matter, and these days they often come in the form of online reviews. Managing customer reviews can be challenging, especially if you have a large volume of them coming from various online platforms. Review monitoring is a way for businesses to track and manage all of their reviews effectively, so they can take control of their online reputation.

Make it easier to manage clients’ online reputations. Download templates for responding to online reviews.

By monitoring reviews for your clients, you can identify any issues or concerns raised by customers and take action to resolve them. Among many benefits, this can help your clients improve their products or services, build trust with customers, and influence their purchasing decisions.

In this article, we’ll dive into the reasons online review monitoring needs to be on your radar, and the best tools available to help agencies effectively and efficiently monitor their clients’ reviews.

What is review monitoring?

Review monitoring is the process of tracking and managing customer reviews that are posted online about a business. It’s one of the most important components of any reputation management strategy since reviews play a major role in helping prospecting customers determine whether or not they want to engage with a business.

Monitoring online reviews requires businesses to regularly check their websites, social media channels, and third-party review platforms for reviews and ratings. Businesses also need to take the appropriate actions that their reviews necessitate. For positive reviews, this might be a simple thank you, while responding to negative reviews may require more involved remedial action.

Review monitoring provides businesses with a valuable peek into the minds of their customers, enabling them to identify issues or concerns that could be affecting customer satisfaction and to take steps to address them. It is also a valuable tool for gauging customer sentiment, which can help businesses refine their offering.

How to monitor online reviews

When a business is just starting out, monitoring online reviews manually might be doable since there aren’t many coming through yet. However, as the business grows, more sophisticated strategies for review monitoring are required.

The four components of any effective review monitoring strategy are:

  1. Generating reviews
  2. Identifying reviews when they are posted
  3. Responding to reviews
  4. Maintaining brand voice consistency

Let’s take a look at each of these in a bit more detail.

1. Generating reviews

Forgive us for stating the obvious, but in order to monitor reviews, a business has to actually have a flow of reviews. Some consumers may be avid reviewers who don’t require any encouragement. However, most will benefit from nudges that encourage or incentivize them to leave a review.

Having a strategy in place to collect more reviews can also help to counteract the fact that people are more likely to be highly motivated to leave a review if they are angry about their experience. This can make your reviews skew more negative than is accurate. Making sure to collect reviews from all customers can ensure a steady stream of positive, reputation-boosting reviews.

This can be as simple as having an automated email flow that invites customers to leave a review at a given time after receiving their product or service. Many customers are more than happy to leave a review about their positive experience after receiving this nudge in their inbox.

2. Identifying reviews when they are posted

Once a business is generating reviews, they also need an effective strategy in place to identify them. Reviews can be posted on many different platforms and websites, so checking each of them regularly is time consuming and inefficient. The right tools can come in handy for this step. Manual review monitoring risks seeing many reviews unseen and unaddressed. We’ll discuss some of these tools in a moment.

3. Responding to reviews

It is important for businesses to respond to both positive and negative reviews that are posted online. When a customer leaves a positive review, it is a good opportunity for the business to engage with them and thank them for their feedback. This can increase engagement and have a positive impact on the business's reputation since it shows that the business cares about its customers and values their opinions.

On the other hand, it is just as—if not even more—important for businesses to publicly respond to negative reviews and address any issues that may have led to a poor experience. Even if the negative feedback feels unfair or exaggerated, businesses should see this as an opportunity to resolve the problem or misunderstanding respectfully and professionally. 

Ignoring negative comments is never a good look: It shows a lack of concern for the customer experience. It can even lead to review bombing to get a business's attention.

Remember, it’s not just the reviewer who sees the response but also potentially thousands of prospective customers. By responding promptly and professionally, you can turn a negative review into a positive brand-building exercise.

4. Maintaining brand voice

Regardless of which platform a review appears on, businesses should have guidelines to ensure that their brand voice is consistently used when engaging with customers. This ensures that customers receive a consistent, cohesive experience of your client’s brand, which can go a long way to building their online reputation.

Monitor for reviews on 5 platforms

The list of platforms that a business should monitor may vary slightly depending on their audience and the industry in which they operate. However, there are some commonly used platforms that just about every business should be monitoring for reviews.

1. Your website

Your client’s website is, of course, one of the most important platforms for review generation and monitoring. Whether your client sells a product or offers a service, prospective customers are sure to click around the website to look for reviews and testimonials. Since 95% of shoppers look at reviews before shopping, you want to make sure that your reviews section is giving the best possible impression of your business. As discussed, this means addressing both positive and negative reviews.

Since you have control over your own website, it can be tempting to limit the visibility of negative reviews. Resist this temptation: Having some negative reviews in the mix can make the overall balance of reviews feel more trustworthy since customers can be (rightfully) suspicious of review sections that are exclusively positive. Instead of deleting them, address them in a helpful and professional manner.

2. Google Business Profile (GBP)

Google Business Profile is a free tool offered by Google that enables businesses to manage their presence across Google’s products, including Google Search and Google Maps. When you search for your client’s business, the sidebar that appears with their business info is their GBP.

If a prospective customer searches Google for your client’s business or searches for it on Google Maps, they’re sure to see their GMB profile, along with the reviews posted on it. Since Google’s products are so ubiquitously used, every business, regardless of their niche or industry, should pay attention to their Google reviews. Like those on their own website, these should be publicly responded to.

3. Yelp

Yelp.com provides crowd-sourced reviews of businesses across most industries. These are unique because they can be quite a bit longer and more in-depth than other review sites. This gives reviewers the chance to provide much more detail than usual.

The Yelp page of a business can frequently appear on the SERP for its brand name. For this reason, businesses should pay special attention to this platform and stay on top of the reviews that come through on their page.

For some industries, Yelp reviews can have a particularly significant impact. For example, online reputation management stats indicate that 74% of people consult Yelp when looking for a home service provider, and a 1-star increase on a restaurant’s Yelp page can produce a 5-9% increase in their revenue.

4. Facebook

Facebook remains a hugely popular social network, so if your business has a Facebook page, monitoring the reviews there is a must. Whether a prospective customer searches for your client’s business directly on Facebook or finds the page through Google, these reviews are publicly visible even to those who don’t follow the brand.

5. Niche-specific sites

Some industries have platforms or databases that are less well-known to the general public but are used extensively by their specific audiences. If there is a platform like this for your niche, make sure your clients are set up to receive reviews on it, and be sure to monitor them.

Examples of niche-specific review sites include Angi (formerly Angie's List) for US service-based businesses and Influenster for consumer products, especially health and beauty products. In some cases, such as Angi, your clients will have to pay for a membership to have their business appear on the site. If their target audience regularly frequents a paid platform like this, it’s likely well worth the fee to have their business listed and reviewed there.

9 benefits of review monitoring

The perks of a well-oiled review monitoring strategy are extensive.

  1. Build trust and credibility. When a business welcomes reviews and responds to them with care and respect, it signals to both existing and prospective customers that it is worthy of trust. Similarly, neglecting to monitor reviews and leaving them unaddressed gives the signal that your clients don’t really care about customer opinion, and therefore shouldn’t be trusted.
  2. Grow the bottom line. Boosting profits is, naturally, among the top goals of any business. Online review monitoring can have a meaningful positive impact on your client’s bottom line. If their reviews (and the responses to them) inspire trust in their product or service and in their brand, prospects who are on the fence can feel more confident in making a purchase. Existing customers who see the care with which they address concerns can also feel more inclined to return.
  3. Improve clients’ online reputation. Review monitoring is a central component of any reputation management strategy. Your client’s online reputation can impact everything from traffic to conversions to business opportunities, so nurturing a positive reputation should be a high priority.
  4. Grow your client’s audience. The more a business is talked about online, the likelier it is to be perceived as important by Google’s algorithm, gaining it a better position in Google’s search engine results pages. As your client’s business becomes more visible online, your client’s audience can grow as a result.
  5. Make customers feel appreciated. Whether customers left a positive or a negative review, getting a response is certain to make them feel valued and appreciated. It can enhance the positive feelings of customers who leave positive reviews, and soften the animosity or dissatisfaction felt by those who left negative reviews.
  6. Gain valuable data. Online review monitoring is an excellent way to collect data and gather insights about how a business is perceived. This data can inform business decisions, from product development to internal operational improvements. The first step to improving customer sentiment is accurately gauging it and understanding the factors behind it. That’s exactly what you can discover with the use of review monitoring tools.
  7. Boost SEO. There is a lot of overlap between local reputation management and a winning SEO strategy, particularly when it comes to local SEO. By monitoring and addressing reviews and maintaining up-to-date, correct listings on review platforms, you won’t just enhance your client’s online reputation, but you’ll also boost the business's performance in local search.
  8. Retain customers. There is no shortage of competition out there, and loyalty to brands is harder to come by than it was in the past. This means brands have to really wow customers if you want them to stick around. Through review monitoring, you can help your clients’ customers feel seen, heard, and appreciated, which will in turn increase the likelihood of them becoming loyal, repeat customers.
  9. Gain a competitive advantage. Given the choice between two similar brands, customers are certain to prefer the one that genuinely cares about their experience and concerns. By making your client’s brand synonymous with customer experience and service through an excellent online review monitoring strategy, you can edge out the competition.

Best review monitoring tools

We’ve established that manually monitoring reviews is unlikely to be an effective strategy for all but the smallest of businesses. Luckily, the right tools can streamline and simplify the review monitoring process. Here are some of our favorites.

Reputation Management

Vendasta’s white-label Reputation Management software is an all-in-one review monitoring tool for managing clients’ online reputations.

Instead of manually visiting every platform on which reviews may appear, which is time consuming and sure to lead to missed reviews, over a hundred websites can be monitored from a single dashboard. That means only one login is needed, and all reviews can be responded to quickly and easily from this single location. Plus, auto review responses reduce the need to comb through every review.

AI and machine learning insights, coupled with competition analysis, make it easy to accurately gauge brand sentiment from reviews and conversations so clients can swiftly identify the areas in which they need to improve.

Customer Voice

Review monitoring requires not just addressing reviews as they come in, but also encouraging more reviews. Having plentiful and recent positive reviews is a cue to prospects that your business can be trusted. Customer Voice automates the review generation process by enabling businesses to reach their customers through email and SMS at the perfect moment when they are most likely to be receptive.

Plus, reviews generated through this review monitoring tool aren’t only for your own website: use it to generate reviews on Google Business Profile, Yelp, or anywhere else your client’s audience is looking.

Google Tools

If you’re focusing on Google Business Profile, you can set up notifications so that you get an alert whenever a new review is left on your client’s profile. For smaller businesses looking for a free tool, this one provides a lot of value. Since Google Business Profile is such an important platform for collecting reviews, it’s well worth carefully monitoring it and responding.

Google Alerts is another useful free tool from Google. You can set up a Google Alert for your client’s brand name and receive an email at the time of your choosing summarizing all the new mentions that Google has crawled since the last report. This way, you can keep an eye on conversations about your clients’ businesses without having to Google them yourself.

Platform Alerts

Just as you can set up notifications on Google Business Profile to be alerted of new reviews, you can do so on many other popular review platforms, such as Yelp. To do so, you have to claim the business’s page.

This is a great way to stay on top of new reviews without manually checking, but it has its limitations. You may not be able to get notifications from every platform, and managing dozens of notifications from different platforms can become untenable. That’s when an all-in-one dashboard like Reputation Management comes in handy.

White labeling: The secret weapon to improve your agency's delivery of review monitoring services

Review monitoring services should absolutely be a part of your product portfolio if you sell digital solutions. However, online review monitoring for a long list of clients can become a full-time job in itself.

White-label review management services enable you to deliver these solutions at scale, without having to expand your in-house team and take on the risk associated with doing so. Beyond simply offering online review monitoring, white-label services enable you to offer full-scale review management, including generating and responding to reviews and developing strategies based on AI insights.

With a white-label model, you don’t pay for any services up front. Instead, you only pay once you sell the services to your client. You don’t have to worry about making investments in software or personnel without being confident of the return.

Frequently asked questions

How much does review monitoring cost?

The cost of review monitoring will depend on the cost of the software you choose to use. If you’re an agency, you’ll be able to access more favorable pricing at scale. You can boost our profits and sell your service for more by incorporating white-label review management in addition to review monitoring.

What is the best review monitoring software?

Vendasta’s Reputation Management is an excellent review monitoring tool because it enables you to monitor reviews from over a hundred different websites, all in a single dashboard. You can also respond from this dashboard without needing to login to third-party sites. Finally, you can gather valuable AI insights about brand sentiment based on reviews and online conversations.

About the Author

Solange Messier is the Content Strategy Manager at Vendasta. Solange has spent the majority of her career in content marketing helping companies improve how they connect with their prospects and customers. Her diverse background includes magazine publishing, book publishing, marketing agencies, payment processing, and tech. When she's not working, Solange can be found spending time with her family, running, and volunteering.

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