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Learn the importance of online review management, how to generate reviews, respond effectively, and derive actionable insights for business growth.

Online Review Management – A Simple Guide


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Gone are the days when businesses could dominate their niches online by just pulling some clever marketing tactics. Today, trust and transparency are watchwords, and your reputation and track record are critical to your ability to convince your prospects. While it's important to put up a good web design, an active social media presence, and other brand marketing strategies into play, if customers can't corroborate your business information from reliable sources, especially from customers with first-hand experience of your business, they'll be less likely to trust your brand compared to if they could. 

That is where online review management comes into the picture. It consolidates your marketing efforts, providing a robust foundation to build your web presence and marketing campaign.

In this be-all, end-all guide, we'll attempt to answer all the questions you might have about online review management. We'll first set the records straight and examine the importance and benefits of online review management. Following that, we'll closely examine the key components of a winning online review management strategy. 

What is Online Review Management?

Online review management refers to a set of activities designed to shape your online reviews. It entails activities on all ends since practically anyone can have an impact on your online reputation. We hear all too often these days how just one bad comment can set off a wave of negative press. 
An effective online review management strategy incorporates a variety of tactics to promote a clean trustable brand image and counteract negative press. A lot could go into the mix, depending on your industry, from public relations tactics to local SEO, web analytics, and indirect marketing strategies. 

Such a holistic approach puts your online presence on the front footing, giving you more control over how your brand is perceived. You earn your stripes and prove that you show up prepared for what you're coming for. 

As a result, you bolster confidence in your potential customers, convincing them that you have what it takes to deliver. 

Here is a rundown of the key components of online review management:

  1. Review Generation

This comprises strategies for generating reviews online. It revolves around using various tactics to encourage your customers to leave good reviews of your business across different platforms. However, what's worked before isn't always guaranteed to work, so an effective review generation strategy needs to be dynamic.

  1. Review Marketing

You can draw on your reviews to emphasize your marketing narratives. Review marketing entails posting and promoting review clips - both positive and negative - to push a certain narrative.

  1. Reputation Monitoring

By monitoring events that could have an impact on your online reputation, you can put out fires early enough and glean insights that'll help sharpen your brand image. Things to keep track of here include your brand mentions, reviews and comments, and brand engagement matrices.

  1. Online Reputation Repair

You'll never know who is going to have it out for your business. An efficient reputation repair strategy comprises an early warning system to help plug any potential issues that could flood your boat, as well as damage control to minimize your exposure to negative press.

Why is Online Review Management Important for Local Businesses?

In an age where information is available at the fingertips, consumers are becoming increasingly better and better at finding information about a brand before making a purchase. And reviews matter hugely in making a positive impact about a brand. According to research by Search Engine Land, 88% of customers treat reviews as personal recommendations. According to Marketing Land, 31% customers are more likely to buy from a business which had positive reviews. Interestingly, 86% of buyers hesitate and doubt a business if they read negative reviews. In fact, one bad review on Yelp can cost our business up to 30 customers. 

Simply conclusion – as a business owner you cannot ignore online reviews since they impact buying decisions. With review management strategies, you have more powerful tools to convince customers now. Online reviews can influence your customers, especially when they begin to seriously consider their purchase options.

Infact, the beauty of reviews is they can act as support at every stage of the funnel, greatly helping in pushing the buyer down the sales funnel and closing the lead. 

To put things in perspective, the role of user-generated content could be as important as that of your branded content. 

Here are some quick stats to prove it -

  • 99.9% of customers will look up customer reviews, even if just casually, before deciding whether to purchase or not.
  • Positive reviews can sway more than 91% of customers, making them more likely to trust and try out a brand.
  • Online reviews are as important as personal recommendations to 79% of customers.
  • Only 13% of customers these days will be willing to try out a business with two-star ratings or less.
  • And if you don't have any reviews at all or are censoring them, you'll likely turn off 62% of your prospects.

With all of this, your user-generated content is definitely not something you can afford to ignore. It has enormous potential to boost or tank your reputation. Online review management mostly borders on how you manage your user-generated content. Your interactions with your user-generated content - or the lack of it - can seriously shape your online reputation.

A robust online reputation can rub off on many different aspects of your business. When you build a solid reputation, it's not just your prospects who'll recognize you. You'll have a better standing on search engines. When you don't have all of the SEO bells and whistles compared to your competitors, your online reputation could shine through and secure a favorable ranking for you.

A good first impression also sets the tone for the rest of a buyer's journey. It might take much longer - that's if at all it happens - for a prospect to eventually come around if you didn't nail that first impression. 

What are the Benefits of Online Review Management?

Keeping track of every conversation that happens around your brand might sound incredibly tedious and time-consuming. You must already be thinking ‘well, is there no easier way to generate growth and increase business profits’. A robust online reputation doesn't come overnight. However, it always pays to dig in to do the dirty work. Here are some key reasons to not underestimate the importance of a strong online reputation.

  • Improving brand discoverability

Inbound marketing is the most effective form of digital marketing. Compared to traditional marketing tactics like paid advertising where you vie for the attention of mostly random people, inbound marketing positions your brand to meet customers exactly at the point of their needs at all times. Online review management consolidates your inbound marketing efforts. It gives you a better standing on search engines and other marketing channels like social media, and this improves the way potential customers discover and interact with your brand.

  • Boosting your trustworthiness and credibility

With effective online review management, you make your customers do the talking for you. Online reviews these days tend to be well-detailed and highly informative, providing a good source of authentic information about your business. With effective online review management, you can showcase your good reviews to promote a good brand image and use the bad ones as a stepping stone to build a better image. 

  • A treasure trove of business insights

Don't just listen to what your customers are saying just to see if they're saying something good or bad. Pay attention to the details. There could be lots of business insights to glean from your user-generated content. 

If you have boatloads of reviews, you don't have to sift through them manually. With tools like sentiment analysis tools and other business intelligence automation, you can quickly turn tons of reviews into a treasure trove of insights to improve various aspects of your business.

  • Increasing sales

The benefits above can all combine to improve your bottom line. Your brand becomes more findable, increasing buyer traffic. A great reputation also makes customers more likely to trust you and key into your offer, boosting your conversion and retention. 

And with the tons of insights generated from proactive review management, you can improve your market fit and create products and services that people will be more willing to bet on.

  • A higher customer lifetime value

The sales team knows this the best. Acquiring new customers costs businesses many times more compared to repeat sales to old customers. Good review management helps you generate more lifetime value from each one of your customers. They'll be less likely to take their business elsewhere and will be happy to invest in your business over and over again. And with strategic responses to negative reviews, you can win over dissatisfied customers and convert them into loyal brand ambassadors.

  • Attracting high-performing talent 

Effective online review management gives your business a competitive edge in many ways. One is making your brand a more preferable destination for top talents seeking a new employer. Top talents research brands before taking offers from them, and they often regard a poor business reputation as a serious red flag.  Employees these days, especially the younger generation, prioritize a company's reputation as much as they do workplace perks like salaries and bonuses. 

How to Manage Your Online Reviews?

Online review management might sound herculean, 

but a few hacks can help you achieve more in less time. Advances in automation makes it easy to cut down on the time and resources needed to maintain a good online reputation. Besides that, here is a rundown of the major components of a robust online review management strategy:

Requesting reviews

Reviews are not a priority to most customers, and spontaneous reviews don't come by easily. Soliciting reviews is a huge part of online review management. You need to maximize any opportunity that comes for  collecting reviews, and that requires proactively soliciting for reviews from customers. One way to do this is by easing the process for collecting the reviews like using templates to easily capture your customers' unique opinions. Note, however, paying for reviews is usually not a good idea. Many prominent review platforms prohibit it.

Review Monitoring

As the reviews begin pouring in, you need to moderate them to promote good ones and neutralize the negative comments. Depending on your unique business size and needs, an in-house monitoring team could serve you better, or it could be more practical to outsource to remote experts. Enterprise-level B2C companies could also use ORM experts to keep an eye around the clock on review sites to track and respond to customer comments.  

Responding to reviews

You don't need to respond to every review, and this is where a response strategy comes along. You must be selective of the good and bad reviews you respond to. For instance, it's not necessary to respond to a negative review that is old and about an issue that has been raised and resolved numerous times. Also, to diffuse tensions and soothe nerves, you need to respond to negative reviews with tact, empathy, and a sincere desire to make things right. When you give responses on time, it speaks to your zeal for meeting your customers' needs, whether you're responding to a good or bad review.

Showcasing Your Best Reviews

Your reviews can be your calling card, an important addition to your marketing inventory.

Branding and marketing materials will carry more weight and look more persuasive when they feature good reviews of your business. 

Driving Insights From Reviews

While reviews are great for the optics, they also come with intrinsic intelligence value. Customer reviews can give you great insights into how your customers think, empowering you to create products and services that truly resonate with them. 

They can help you figure out inefficiencies and areas that need improvement in existing products, plus plenty of ideas for new lines of products and services.

How to Generate More Reviews?

Now you might be asking 'how do I put all of this to work?' Start by implementing plans to generate reviews.

Here's how:

  1. Impress your customers with a remarkable user experience

To increase your chances of getting positive reviews, you need to deliver an impressive experience with your product or service.

  1. Send out post-sales emails

After their purchase, sending regular friendly reminders to your customers about leaving reviews increases the possibility of eliciting it from them. Collect their emails at the point of payment if you don't already have them. Send them an email a week or two after their purchase asking about their experience and whether they could do you the favor of putting down a few words about it.

  1. Mention reviews in all customer correspondences

If they still don’t give their review after that, use every opportunity you have to interact with them to remind them, whether it’s a chat with technical support or a call with a live support agent. But be careful not to be pushy – a little prompt at the end of every conversation could do the trick.

  1. Incorporate review prompts across your site (and physical store)

In a similar vein, you can keep reminding your customers about leaving reviews by placing review reminders with quick links to review pages placed strategically across your site. If you have a physical store, you can remind them using in-store signages such as placards, flyers, window clings, etc.

  1. Encourage customers to write a review

Ask customers to write reviews while they are still at the store or in front of you. Include QR codes in posters & cards to make it easier for your clients to write reviews where you need them the most.

  1. Work on social media channels

Most social media sites like Facebook and Twitter also double as review sites, making it more convenient for customers who frequent there to leave reviews of your product. Besides direct reviews, these sites can also help you obtain other types of user-generated content for more social proof.

  1. Respond to all reviews timely and thoughtfully

Responding to reviews shows customers that their opinion matters a lot, and this encourages them to be more forthcoming.

  1. Use mobile-friendly review forms

Making it convenient for your customers to leave reviews on-the-go can significantly boost your chances of generating more reviews.

  1. Use multiple channels to collect reviews

The more convenient it is for your customers to leave reviews, the more likely you are to get their reviews. Use multiple review channels to make the review process more convenient and flexible for customers.

Why should you respond to customer reviews?

It's no easy feat going up on various platforms every day to read and respond to your customers' reviews, but it could do your reputation and overall branding a whole lot of good.

By responding to customer reviews on time, whether positive or negative, you can take advantage of many opportunities to push your brand narrative and win the hearts of more customers.
Doing so also shows how much you care about your customers, and this in turn enhances your trustworthiness. Responding to reviews on time also encourages more informative and insightful reviews. Customers will be more willing to take time to detail their experiences. This can lead to more business insights while also boosting brand engagement among your audience.

Even more importantly, providing timely responses to reviews, especially negative ones, can help diffuse bad situations and prevent a negative comment from spiraling into a more complex issue.

How to Respond to Customer Reviews?

All your reviews deserve a unique, well-written response, but a strategy could help make things simpler. Here are tips to help you manage your reviews.

Negative reviews:

  • First, show some humanity. Thank them for making an effort to leave a comment and acknowledge the pain and difficulties they might be facing.
  • Try responding as quickly as possible. The earlier you address it, the more you prove your willingness to resolve the problem. 
  • Keep it simple, direct, and personal - address them by their name. Focus on the specific issues raised in the comment. 
  • Try to be as detailed as possible when offering explanations and providing legitimate reasons. 
  • If possible, try taking the issue private, and speaking one-on-one with the customer.
  • Offer a refund, store credits, discount, or any other form of compensation.
  • Remain composed and professional, and always try to diffuse any tensions. No matter the heat of the moment, don't give into the temptation to exchange words with your customers.
  • Don't delete negative comments, instead keep the entire conversation open so everyone can see how things end.

Positive reviews

  • Give a quick response - probably within a day or two.
  • Personalize your response, addressing the user by their name and talking about the specifics of their comment.
  • Thank them for offering their input.
  • Offer a call to action - if they qualify for specific offers. Or offer review rewards like discounts and presale offers.
  • Showcase your positive reviews.

Important Websites for Local Reviews

Now you know how to start generating and managing reviews. But where do you start? Here are the best review sites to focus on:

Google Business Profile

Your GMB profile page is one of the most important places for managing your reviews. Your ratings here are what usually appears first to customers searching for you on Google or Google Maps. 

Facebook page reviews/recommendations

If you already have a vibrant marketing presence on Facebook, it could be much easier to collect reviews from customers here. Simply go to your Facebook Business page settings and activate the reviews settings. Your customers on Facebook will then be able to leave reviews on your page with just a few clicks.


Yelp is one of the most prominent review sites in the world. It processes hundreds of millions of reviews every year. Note, however, that Yelp has far more stringent rules regarding incentivized reviews of any reviews site. If incentives are part of your review strategy, you might find other review sites to be more accommodating.

Angi (formerly Angie’s List)

Angie is regarded as a premium reviews’ site because it charges a membership fee. The paid membership weeds out fake or junk reviews, making it one of the trusted places to get authentic reviews.

Better Business Bureau

The BBB is a gatekeeper to the online business world. A good BBB rating is regarded as a stamp of authority and authenticity. 

Consumer Affairs

As the name suggests, Consumer Affairs is a platform protecting the interest of consumers. The reviews section is just a small part of the platform, but the reviews here are highly revered given the platform's clout.


Foursquare provides businesses with tools and resources for managing their online reputation. They make it easy for customers to rate and review listed businesses.


If you're vying to position your brand as a place to attract top talent, you'd want to get good ratings on Glassdoor. The platform helps connect job searchers with employees, providing tools and resources for both sides to search and review businesses and professionals.


With over 500,000 rated businesses and millions of reviews posted every week, TrustPilot is one of the most trusted review platforms in the world. It serves businesses and customers in over 65 countries. It also integrates with a host of marketing and ecommerce platforms, making it easier for businesses to collect reviews regardless of where or how sales take place.


HomeAdvisor is one of the most prominent review sites in the real estate category. Specifically, it caters to reviews of interior designers and home improvement firms.


Trip advisor is the number one source of travel information for travelers around the globe. If you're in the travel and hospitality business, it's crucial to build a good reputation on Tripadvisor, as the site influences the decisions of millions of travelers every day. 

How to Derive Actionable Insights From Your Online Reviews?

Wondering how to leverage the intelligence value of your reviews? Your customer review can provide more context for your business analysis, helping you gain better perspectives as to what works best for your business. 
However, with tons of reviews to sift through, you could be overwhelmed by the amount of data to process. So, how do you cut through the noise? Here are some quick tips to help you glean those valuable insights. 

  1. Gather your feedback: 

The first step is to aggregate your review sources. You can gather all your feedback in one place using review management tools that scour the web, scrape your review data, and gather them all on a single interface.

  1. Model your data:

Next, categorize your reviews to make it easier to sort through them. For instance, tools like sentiment analysis can help sort your reviews based on their emotional undertones.

  1. Find connections:

To begin mining insights from your organized data, try establishing connections between various aspects of your data. For instance, you can investigate links between your customers' emotions and various aspects of your business. This could help identify areas to improve on and how to increase customer satisfaction.

  1. Rinse and repeat:

Lastly, since you're mining insights in a dynamic space, it's important to stay abreast with changes in your business environment. Keep mining more insights to track how your customers' behavior is evolving.


Online review management is key to establishing any meaningful presence online. It gives you a firmer handle on how people perceive your business and can seriously influence your ability to attract more customers and even retain business.
By boosting your credibility and trustworthiness, great reviews enhance your site’s conversion and ultimately your sales. You'll also be able to generate more lifetime value from each one of your customers, thanks to more robust engagement rates derived from efficient review management. 

Top talent will also find your brand highly attractive, even if you don't offer the best pay package among competitors. To create and implement an effective review management strategy, ask for reviews proactively and respond to them on time. Work with tactics when responding to reviews, and respond to both the good and the bad alike. 

Also, showcase your good reviews wherever you can, and turn bad press into good publicity by responding to negative reviews with tact and professionalism. Besides boosting your reputation and discoverability, online review management can also furnish you with business intelligence insights, helping place your business on a cutting edge.

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