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Online reviews are so important for your business. They are something that are probably on your radar, but are you aware of just how much they can influence people and affect their buying decisions? A good review (or a negative review, for that matter) could make the difference between gaining a new customer and just not quite making the cut. Think about it from your point of view – how often do you shop on Amazon or Ebay, and how often do you look at product reviews before deciding to buy? If you use platforms like this, then positive reviews can be incredibly reassuring. We certainly know they make a big difference to us if we are buying something for the Make Me Local office.

An example of how online reviews can work

Scenario one: You’re looking to buy some new furniture for your office. You search for ‘office furniture in Bromley’, and the search returns a few options. One company you look at has several reviews on their website, and they’re all incredibly positive… perhaps a little too positive. You realise that they have all been uploaded directly to the company’s website, and you begin to wonder whether the company could have used some creative license. Is it possible the reviews could be made up? At the very least, they could well be biased, because the company could easily have chosen to exclude any negative reviews they might have. You’re just not sure whether you can trust them.

Scenario two: You’re looking to buy some new furniture for your office. You search for ‘office furniture in Bromley’, and it returns a few options. One company you look at has several reviews on their website, and you notice that they are from reviews.co.uk. This reassures you – a third party is looking after their reviews, so you can tell they are truthful and unbiased. You search for the company a little more and see that they also have other reviews on Google, Facebook and Yell. You notice they have a 5-star score under their name on their Google listing. You feel like you can really trust this company.

How do consumers use online reviews?

Do either of these scenarios sound familiar? They’re probably not a million miles away from situations you have found yourself in. After all, we are all consumers in one way or another. And as consumers, we want to ensure we are making the right buying decisions. Reviews can be a big part of this.

You see, online reviews are incredibly powerful, but they need to be the right type of reviews, they need to be seen in the right places, and there needs to be enough of them. It’s not as simple as just having a couple of reviews you have added onto your website as and when they have come in from your customers.

Did you know…

It’s important you have reviews, and it’s important you have enough of them to ensure people have the information they need to make an informed decision about your business.

First-party and third-party reviews

Much of the way in which we use reviews also depends on whether they are first party or third party.

First-party: reviews that are published on a company’s website, by that company or their website management company. These reviews may have a customer name and location, they may even have a photo, but the company is completely in control of them. The reviews could be biased, as the business could choose to omit negative reviews, and in the worst case scenario, they could even be made up.

Third-party: reviews that are controlled by an external organisation. These could be reviews that are published on third-party platforms like Yell, Facebook, Google, TripAdvisor or Checkatrade. They could also be reviews on a company’s own website that are collected and controlled by a third party, like Trustpilot or reviews.co.uk, proving that they are genuine and unbiased.

Managing your reviews for maximum benefit

As an SME, we are guessing you pride yourself on your customer service and you want to tell the world about how great it is to work with you. This is a message that is so powerful when it comes from your customers. One of the best ways of communicating this is through your online reviews. The more of them you have, the better.

The downside? Your customers are busy people and they probably forget to leave you reviews.

Luckily, it’s a problem that has a simple resolution. A review management service will help you to collect more verified, genuine, third-party reviews and publish them to various platforms. Reviews will be collected from your customers on your behalf, upping the number you have and ensuring they are completely unbiased.

Interested in managing your reviews?

You may have heard of companies like Trustpilot, who offer review management services for £250 a month.

Well, there’s some good news. Our reputation management service has just launched! Existing clients are already coming on board, so you will be in good company.

The best news? We are cheaper than Trustpilot! Our reputation management service is priced at £190 and we do absolutely everything for you, from collecting reviews to replying to them on your behalf. All you need to do is give us your customers’ names and addresses once a month.

We help build up your reputation, and help you succeed as a local SME.

Reputation management from Make Me Local