Sometimes, trying to keep track of all the different places a company is featured online can feel like a particularly frustrating game of Whack-a-Mole for busy marketers these days.
Yelp, Facebook, Bing, Local, Foursquare, Google, Yahoo – these are just a few of the sites where there are both opportunities and potential pitfalls that result from your business being listed, unlisted, incorrectly listed, or attracting poor reviews online.
Before you despair, I’d like to reassure you that there is a way to both monitor and (to a large extent) control what is said about your company online without you or your team having to spend countless hours every month researching, checking, and updating. You can get control today with the information I will share with you in this article. Let’s go!
ONE: WHY LOCAL LISTINGS AND REVIEWS MATTER
You can’t be in 100 different places at once – but in the online world, your business can. Websites, directories, local listings, review sites, and apps that help people to find a supplier/service/solution are springing up all the time. This presents marketers with both an opportunity and a challenge. All of these apps and directories have different characteristics and appeal to different types of customer, so it’s important you maximize the possibilities for being found by more people and also monitor what others might be saying about the customer experience at your company.
The aim of these directories is to provide users with as comprehensive and useful an experience as possible. Therefore, it naturally follows that they should offer your company a small amount of online “real estate” on their site for you to claim as your own. By filling out the listing with more information about your company, the products and services it offers, and all of your contact details, you are opening up more potential channels for people to find you and hopefully begin trading with you.
So far, so positive. Now, on the other side of the coin….many of these sites also have a built in “review” feature that allows any of their users to leave a review on your company. This is, as you will be well aware, something of a double-edged sword. Good reviews will give your brand credibility and help people who have never dealt with your company before trust you with their business. Even “neutral” reviews will help establish your credibility to a certain extent.
Negative reviews, on the other hand, will cast a shadow over your online marketing efforts and new business acquisition. It’s not something you need to be afraid of confronting, as I will cover later in this post, but burying your head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich won’t make bad reviews go away. It’s amazing how many new LeapGo clients are unaware they have any reviews, either good or bad, on their company. The first thing is to know what is being said about your company online. Then, you can start to take steps to get control!
TWO: ONE DASHBOARD TO CONTROL THEM ALL
Don’t worry, I’m not about to get all “Lord of the Rings” on you, but similarly to Tolkien’s “One ring to rule them all” you can have a powerful tool that will help you consolidate all the reviews out there into one easy-to-manage dashboard. That tool is called Yext.
In our experience, Yext is the most effective way for marketers to control how their company appears online. You have 100% control of your own website. You can have an amazing responsive website design, professional website development, and search engine optimization, but if you have no strategy for locating and claiming all the available listings and responding to reviews on other sites, your ship could be sailing perilously close to some sharp rocks.
It might sound almost too good to be true, but Yext will analyze your company (in seconds, and for free!) and give you a report on how many listings you have claimed and are making the most of and how many remain unclaimed or contain erroneous information. Sign up for their Power Listings service, and you will be able to quickly seize control of your listings.
To manually update your company listing on dozens of different sites would in itself be a hugely time-consuming activity. To then make changes to that listing on each separate site every time you add a new service or change your opening hours is even more prohibitive. To do the same process with Yext, however, you can do it just once – and watch it start to update right across their partner network within minutes! This is not a sponsored recommendation, nor do we have any vested interest in recommending Yext. I’m simply telling you what works – and having implemented listing claiming and optimization for many of our clients, we have plenty of experience to go by.
Another very useful feature of Yext is the ability to monitor any reviews that appear about your company online on any of the Yext partner sites. So, whether you get a review on Yellow Pages, Yelp, or Yahoo, or any of the other 60+ directories, apps, and search engines that Yext works with (in the US alone), you’ll get a notification right in your Yext dashboard. Which brings us right on to…
THREE: WHY NEGATIVE REVIEWS ARE NOT ALL BAD NEWS!
As a marketer attracting a substantial volume of business on a daily basis, it is inevitable that sooner or later you will have some negative reviews to deal with. Whether they are justified or not, this can be upsetting, annoying, or stressful. One downside of the proliferation of these review sites is that it has made it far easier for someone, somewhere, to take a cheap shot at your organization. And now you have to decide how to deal with it!
There is a positive way to deal with negative reviews, though – here are some handy pointers to help you:
- Maybe the review is justified. Be grateful – you’ve been given a priceless opportunity to review company policy or contact the disappointed customer and offer a refund or replacement, or some other compensation. Now, you have demonstrated to everyone that comes across the review that your organization really listens and cares.
- Consider the additional credibility that your organization gains from every review, whether justified and fair or not. In today’s world, people will be skeptical of a business with only five-star reviews in any case, so if you have a handful of poor or mediocre reviews, most people will be streetwise enough not to be deterred by these.
- There’s nothing to stop you encouraging your loyal customer base to leave positive reviews for you. This will lessen the impact of the poor review or reviews. You’ll be surprised how many of your customers will be happy to help out if you send them a brief message asking them to do a quick favor for you! Most states have laws restricting or banning the offer of payment or a discount specifically for leaving a good review, though, so be careful not to offer a reward in return.
- Realize that it’s not personal. Maybe that person was having a bad day, or they had some other motivation to try to damage your organization. Deal with it professionally, leaving a businesslike and courteous response and no one can hold it against you. You can’t please everybody all of the time.
- Sometimes a reviewer will deliberately try to provoke you – don’t rise to it, you will just be pouring gasoline on the flames! As Zig Ziglar once commented: “Remember, for some people, the only time they get a taste of success is when they take a bite out of you.”
FOUR: LOCAL LISTINGS: MAKING THE MOST OF THE OPPORTUNITY
You can either be bewildered and left in the dark by the multitude of directories and local listings – or you can address it head on and make the most of the opportunity to get credible links to your website, and multiple routes for customers to find you. With Yext, you can even set special offers to appear on people’s smartphones when they search for your product or service in your area! This is a perfect way to stand out from the competition and grab new customers – who could end up being customers for life if you treat them right. Every listing, every review (positive or otherwise) is an opportunity to engage with your audience, and to build your online presence.
At LeapGo, we have years of experience in professional website development, opti