For retailers, online reviews can seem scary. Having no control over what people say about your brand or product is not always easy to handle. If a customer says something bad it could affect your sales, it could damage your reputation, or it could undo what you’ve worked so hard to build.
But don't be afraid of reviews. Instead, embrace them. Just ask those who attended National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention and Expo (NRF14 Big Show) earlier this year. The event highlighted several key trends that the retail industry can expect this year, and one of these is that consumers will continue to seek information online — via social networks, review sites, and shopping apps — before they finalize their purchase decisions.
If this sounds like a daunting challenge for retail marketers, e-commerce entrepreneurs, and product-based business owners, don’t worry. There are many ways of leveraging online reviews to drive performance.
Monitor your presence. The first step to managing reviews is to plant your flags. In today’s social-media-driven, digital omni-channel world, it’s critical for you to be able to claim ownership of all your online listings and profiles. Only then will you be able to monitor what’s being said, which in turn allows you to engage in online conversations with your most vocal customers.
Getting good reviews? Incorporate them across your digital channels. Positive reviews tell potential customers that you’re a great choice. Wouldn’t you want to amplify that? Exactly. Beauty brands are already doing it: according to L2 Think Tank’s latest Digital IQ Index, 83 percent of beauty brand websites now incorporate customer reviews as a way of helping instigate sales decisions.
Analyze your data. In the words of IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, “Information is our generation’s next natural resource.” This is why consumers read as much as they can online about future purchases before they make a decision. In the same way, you should be able to effectively gather and analyze available data — and this includes consumer-generated reviews — to understand, and meet, specific market needs. The information you get should be able to help you segment and target your activities. With data comes insight, and with insight comes an opportunity to drive performance.
Engage and personalize. People write reviews because they have something to say about your product. Join that conversation. Respond to reviews they wrote and resolve the issues they raised. It’s less about price now and more about delight. By focusing on this, you create personalized post-purchase experiences that can potentially spell the difference between a one-time buyer and loyal customer.
Chris Campbell is the CEO and Founder of Review Trackers, an online review management and reputation monitoring platform for multi-location businesses looking to track, analyze, and generate reviews on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, and more.