Online reviews are a powerful marketing tool for any business. 97% of consumers check reviews for local businesses before making a purchase decision.
Your online reputation is a vital branch of your marketing strategy. How can you make sure you're making the most of user-generated reviews to boost sales?
TripAdvisor is a titan of the online review world. Both locals and visitors use it to check out recommended shops, attractions, and cafes and restaurants. Boosting your TripAdvisor ranking is a great way to improve traffic to your business, but how do you do it?
6 Secrets to an Incredible TripAdvisor Ranking
Customers trust third-party review sites like TripAdvisor because they're independent from a business' marketing strategy. You can't buy great rankings – it's all up to customer feedback.
However, you can make sure your customers are happy enough with their experience that they can't wait to leave a positive review. Here are seven ways to encourage customers to leave great TripAdvisor reviews.
1. Respond to Every Review (Even Bad Ones)
While it's tempting to write off negative reviews as ‘disgruntled customers' and ignore them, it's important that you respond to them as well as the positive ones.
How you respond is important, too. Remember that potential customers will be reading these reviews and your replies to make decisions about using your services.
Negative reviews can bring out the worst in people: you'll naturally want to defend your business. However, responding with polite and informative replies is more constructive for your business than a negative review.
2. Deliver Flawless Customer Service
The best way to improve your review ratings is to deliver outstanding customer service. You want to make your customers so excited about engaging with your business that they'll leave a review without any encouragement.
Small things, such as remembering the names of regulars, offering a dog-friendly zone in your cafe, or encouraging friendly conversation, can all contribute to great customer experience.
Remember: people won't remember you, but they'll remember how you make them feel.
3. Get All Staff Involved
Your staff comes from the local area, so use them to refer their friends and family to your business! Offer staff incentives to improve business awareness in the local community.
You could even hold special friends and family exclusive events. Late-night openings or exclusive offers just for those who know your staff will always bring more people through the door and provide a special experience they'll remember (and review!).
When their friends and family have visited your business, remind staff to encourage them to leave a review, too. This will help to increase the number of reviews from local people – something that adds serious clout to your TripAdvisor page.
4. Ask Customers for Reviews
The number one reason companies don't have many TripAdvisor reviews is that they don't ask for them!
Asking your existing customers can result in more reviews and a positive rating on the site. You could do this as part of your staff script: “If you're happy with your service today, please look us up on TripAdvisor and leave a review.” Or, email customers on your marketing list with a specific request to review your business.
You could also advertise in your store or on your premises that you're on TripAdvisor. Add a point-of-sale reminder or even stick a review request on your till receipt.
You can also offer incentives, such as customer competitions. You're not allowed to pay for a review or offer free services in return for one, but a social media competition could help your ranking.
Ask customers to write a review and then share it on social media using a competition hashtag and your business handle. Put these entries into a draw to win a prize and you'll be on the right side of incentivized reviews!
5. Be Honest
No company is perfect. You're going to make mistakes. Unfortunately, this is usually when customers feel compelled to turn to social media and review sites to tell the world about it.
Instead of getting defensive when dealing with negative feedback, offer a way to apologize instead. Admit that there was a mistake and suggest a remedy. This could be a gift voucher or a refund of their payment. If you're not sure what would make them happy, ask!
So that you don't suddenly face a slew of negative reviews when people realize they can get free stuff by complaining, take correspondence offline. Word your review replies with something like this:
“We're so sorry to hear you're dissatisfied with your experience. Please get in touch with me directly at [email address] so that we can discuss how to rectify the problem.”
6. Act On Feedback (And Show Proof)
Ask customers for feedback on their experience with your business while they're still present. If you're a hotel, for example, an in-stay survey will help you assess where you can improve your service while the customer is still there.
This will provide a positive customer experience and also reduce the risk of negative reviews, as you're solving problems in real-time.
If you see feedback in reviews that needs immediate action, acknowledge this in your reply, too. For example, if several people comment about a particular member of staff or a problem with your facility, act on this information.
After you take action, put this in your reply. It shows that you listen to your customers and do as you say you'll do, which is great for building trust and loyalty.
Shout About Your Review Success to Boost Rankings Further
Customers won't leave a review if they're not sure where to find you or if your business is on a third-party review site.
Shout about your TripAdvisor ranking by advertising your existing reviews. Use online and offline techniques for this to make sure customers use every channel of interaction for your business know where to leave a review.
Not sure how to be creative with your review marketing? Check out our Creative Ways to Display Reviews guide to get started!