Anything can be reviewed from café sandwiches to clothing or job postings. With an easy tap on a mobile device, reviews can be starred from the infamous one to fab five. If you’re posting, be kind but honest (we know you are). If you’re an entrepreneur with your eye on reviews for profit, don’t hesitate to ask for them.

Benefits – why reviews are important to both businesses and their customers.

Business owners benefit from positive reviews because they come from an authentic source – from the buyer, not the seller. Good reviews can literally sell your product and they are worth asking for.

Customers have the opportunity to share their opinion on any product they buy. This helps the online community choose to buy from reputable sources and save themselves return hassles. Your review may comment on garment sizing, quality and shipping services among other details. Remember to be courteous when posting your comments. If you are unhappy with your recent purchase, think of ways to word constructive criticism that’s helpful for other customers and business staff. If you are happy with your purchase, don’t hesitate to rate five stars and post your thoughts. By doing so, you will encourage and support local business.

Where to Find Reviews

Amazon – If you’re running a blog that allows customers to openly post, you might want to look at how Amazon manages theirs. They have zero tolerance for reviews designed to mislead customers, so trolls and competitors can’t damage your business or reputation.

Google and Other Search Engines

Google reviews show up with your business listing, and improve local search ranking. They increase trust and credibility and can influence purchase decisions. As a business owner, you can read and reply to reviews and move them across listings. Moving reviews is useful when you make changes to your business, sell it, or relocate your storefront. You can request reviews through a short URL sent to customers and encourage them with reminders. You’ll need to verify your business before your information is eligible to respond to reviews, appear on Google Maps, Search and other services. If you see a review that is inappropriate, you can flag it for removal.

Travel Sites – Tripadvisor is the main go-to for travelers on a global level, offering cost-compares, online reservations, and most importantly, user generated content in the form of reviews. If you are in the tourism industry, and reopening your doors for business, take a look at their site. You can find tips on what vacationers liked or disliked in your area to improve or fine tune your services. You can also glean a lot of information on your competition. Competitor analysis is a very real necessity, especially when preparing for new advertising campaigns and double-especially when under economic strain.

Foodies – Tripadvisor, once again invites and publishes hundreds of reviews for each restaurant, especially restaurants attached to hotels. If you own a restaurant, you’ll want to be listed with them and work on getting some good reviews posted by happy customers. If you’re rating food from a local eatery, take a pic of the food before you dig in so readers can get the proper visual from when your food first arrives. Yelp and Zomato are two more sites to keep your eye one.

Reviews on Websites

If your site is on WordPress, you can install the WP Review plugin for options on controlling and monitoring reviews. Reviews boost SEO and help customers make purchasing decisions. Although reviews placed on websites may be true, if it’s not a feed, they can be cherry picked, so customers need to be aware that they are missing the negatives. That being said, if you’re on the other side of the fence and you want to cut and paste good reviews onto your website, you’re probably adding valuable keywords needed for SEO (search engine optimization) and allowing real customers to expound on your products or services. Besides, it’s encouraging for you, your staff and other customers to hear when someone’s happy with you.

When to Ask Your Customers for Reviews

Absolutely ask happy customers for reviews. Don’t be shy. Happy people are glad to oblige and you want to catch them at the very moment the finalized transaction is fresh before they accidentally forget to post that five-star review.

Troubleshooting Reviews

As local business owners, you no doubt pay attention to your reviews on sites like the ones mentioned above, and that’s a good thing because being aware of the community’s perception of your business creates an opportunity to make adjustments for better marketing. For example, if you’re in the business of making soap and you have several rave reviews about your lavender bars, you can target-market and boost sales. If you get several negative reviews about your mint bars (hard to believe I know) you can nix making them. Why spend time manufacturing a product that won’t produce future sales? That’s the power of negative reviews for business owners. When you listen to the feedback, you can actually alter your product line and boost your profit margin. Reviews – good and bad – are like a window into the otherwise foggy world of customer emotion.

Social Media Reviews

Think controlling reviews on your social media accounts is like trying to tame a wild horse? You’re right. If you choose to market through social channels, be prepared to engage. SM (social media) is highly user-generated but that fact leaves the gate open. In other words, although social media business accounts are highly recommended for target marketing and gaining social trust, they are hard to control. If you decide to go the SM route, be prepared to spend a lot of time monitoring, managing and posting. If you don’t have time or the mental energy needed to manage these accounts, we recommend hiring a professional to run your channels for you. Give us a call if you want some help managing SM and we will introduce you to our social media marketing guru. She can create your pro page, monitor reviews and comments and run ad campaigns for you (she also knows a lot about horses).