You are just one bad review away from developing a bad reputation online…
Here at Freedom Ability Marketing and Consulting, we talk a lot about a 5 star online reputation. We believe it is the foundation ALL businesses should start with before they even think about doing any kind of marketing.
- 88% of internet users check reviews online before they decide to purchase a product or service.
- 88% of them also trust those reviews as much as they would a recommendation from a friend or family member.
- 70% of customers need 6-10 good reviews before they are willing to believe any of them.
* Stats From BrightLocal Consumer Review Survey 2014
Reputation is here to stay and will only get more important to small businesses like yours and mine as we move forward.
Every other form of marketing you do in your business is driving up to 88% of your prospective clients to your reputation online.
That means up to 88% of people seeing your Yellow Pages ad, print ads, websites, social media, pay per click ads, etc, etc. will turn around and look for your reviews online to help them determine whether or not they want to do business with you.
This is why we view reputation as the very first thing you need to take care of before you spend money on any other form of advertising.
- If you have a poor online reputation, you are in trouble.
- If you have very little online reputation, (70% need to see 6-10 good reviews before they believe any of them) you are also in trouble.
- If you have fewer reviews online or a lower rated online reputation than your competition, they will get the Lion’s share of the business.
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Fake Reviews Can Kill Your Business.
If you have been looking into online reputation at all, you’ve heard stories of big companies getting into trouble by leaving fake positive reviews to boost their online reputation, creating an unfair and undeserved advantage in the marketplace.
This is not only unethical, but Google and other reputable review sites do everything they can to avoid publishing fake reviews, and will de-list anyone who leaves them. Leaving fake reviews puts your entire online presence at risk.
Leaving fake positive reviews regarding your own business is one thing, but unfortunately the other side of the coin is far worse, and much easier for nefarious business owners or managers to implement… leaving fake negative reviews about their competitors.
It takes many good reviews from a variety of customers to be believable, but one really bad review can turn clients away immediately. It’s always better to have strategies in place to mitigate damages before you are hurt by fake (or legitimate) negative reviews.
An ex-spouse, disgruntled former employee, former partner with a bad taste in their mouth, or unscrupulous competitor can make that happen… anonymously and with very little repercussion, and very little recourse for the business owner who they just slandered.
This article from Becket Adams in “The Blaze” goes into the problem in a lot more detail: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom: How Bogus Online Reviews Can Sink a Small Business
Adams recounts stories of small business owners who were victims of fake online reviewers losing 70% of their business due to fake reviews and having very little legal recourse available to them.
It’s a sad reality that this is a real threat in today’s business world.
All Is Not Lost
Adams doesn’t give much hope in his article… but there are things you can do to protect yourself, and things you can do to recover from an attack like this… but as the old cliche says, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Prevention is always the best policy, but it’s not always possible to prevent.
What can You DO?
This should go without saying but, you should start by making sure you run your business with honesty and integrity and treat every client and prospect with respect. This will eliminate the majority of negative reviews from clients… and if you treat your competitors with respect, they are less likely to treat you without it.
If someone is out to get you for some perceived wrong, however, you may still experience fake negative reviews. There are a few things that can help.
First, Do Not Depend on the Review Site To Help
Review sites may have a dispute process in place, by all means you should take advantage of that, but don’t leave it up to them to take down a fake review to fix the problem. It may never happen. If they do take it down, it could be months later after the review has already done thousands of dollars worth of damage in the form of lost business.
These sites often generate ad revenue by posting reviews and are loathe to take anything down. In a “your word against theirs” scenario, the review will stay. I am not a lawyer, so check this with your lawyer if you want to try legal action, but I haven’t heard of many successes with legal action. At this point I don’t believe review sites can be held legally responsible for reviews someone else posted on their site.
There are other solutions rather than spending thousands in legal bills.
As we said before, one really bad review can turn the same people away who said they need 6-10 positive reviews before they believe them, so something must be done if you do get a scathing review.
You can’t depend on the review site, so you have to take your own action.
How To Bury Negative Reviews
The only real way to counteract fake bad reviews is to drown them in good reviews. As a preventative measure, this DRAMATICALLY decreases the negative effect of any bad reviews about your business. It works the same if the reviews are written by someone who is vindictively faking a review, a client who had a negative experience, or by an unreasonable customer who goes out of their way to complain. (We can all think of one or two of those.)
If you have a strategy to consistently get new 5-star reviews about your business from your customers and promote them online, one or two bad reviews amongst 50 good ones will negate the bad review in the mind of potential clients. However, your system needs to generate new 5 star reviews that follow the negative review almost immediately. People put more weight on the latest reviews.
Example: You have 30 5-star reviews with 1 negative review in the middle of the pack. You’re in great shape. Someone leaves review #31 which is terrible. It’s the latest review on your company. Now you have a problem. Add 10 more 5-star reviews on top of the negative one and you’re in great shape again. When you are close to 5-stars overall and people have to scroll down or go to the next page of reviews to find the bad one… most of your problem disappears.
The negative fake review may have caused a temporary problem, but with the more recent positive reviews it will soon be forgotten… and once it is buried deep enough under new 5 star reviews, it may never be seen again.
Getting those 10 new positive reviews can be a problem if you have no reputation strategy in place. If you don’t, chances are you only have a handful of positives (or worse, the bad review was your only one). In that case, there could be significant “bottom-line consequences” from this one review.
You can still bury it by setting up a system to capture reviews. A system where you can control which reviews are made public, collect them, and promote the positive ones, attempting to direct people to the offending site to bury the negative review there, but that takes time. Time in which your reputation and your business can be damaged.
The Keys to Collecting and Promoting 5-Star Reviews Effectively
To market your reputation effectively, you need a few key things in place:
- A system that makes it very easy for your clients to leave reviews and testimonials online.
- Strategies to get clients and customers to leave 5 star reviews.
- The means to collect these reviews into a database that you control. (i.e. collect reviews and show the good ones and keep the negative ones in your private database so only you can see them and respond to do unhappy clients as needed.)
- Training for your organization to ensure you and your staff foster a “Reputation Culture” in your business will also make a huge difference.
- A system that monitors your reviews from third party sites.
At Done4ULocal Marketing we recommend our own Reputation Marketing services to provide all of these key ingredients and more. Many companies in the “reputation space” will only hit one, maybe 2 on this list. Usually heavy on the monitoring and light on the marketing. It’s good to know what’s happening, but far better to be proactive to get and market reviews. Affordable professional training for staff is unheard of. Make sure you have a strategy to help get reviews and spread the word.
I take care of reputation strategies at Done4ULocal Marketing and I’d love love to talk to you about what it would take to develop a 5-star reputation in your business, promote to your market, and overtake your competition by positioning yourself as the go-to person in your industry.
NOTE: We are running a new Beta Program creating 60 second Review Branding Commercials that highlight 5-Star reviews from your clients. Call us today to see if we are still offering free production for a $2000 video commercial! (506-847-4025)
You can also ask about our system for collecting and marketing reviews when you call. We have clients with dozens of 5-star reviews and we’d love to work with you to do the same.
Hope to chat soon!