Getting the most from online reviews

April 22, 2019 By    

Propane businesses concerned about the havoc online reviews can wreak can take heart: The latest crop

An online review software solution helps monitor your online reputation. Photo: iStock.com/nicoelnino

An online review software solution helps monitor your online reputation. Photo: iStock.com/nicoelnino

of online review software solutions enables you to establish a powerful command center to monitor and influence your company’s reputation online.

Essentially, these best-of-breed dashboards enable you to keep tabs on every major review site on the web, see what’s being said about your company in real time, and respond lightning quick to those reviews – whether it’s to accept an accolade or engage in critical damage control.

You’ll also be able to use many of these packages to create a reviews domain on your own website, cultivate reviews from your customers and ensure that those reviews also get posted to the major review websites and on social media.

“We live in the consumer era where influence has truly shifted from companies to consumers,” says Peter Mühlmann, CEO of Trustpilot, an online review management solution.

Marc Ferrentino, chief strategy officer of Yext, another online review management solution, agrees: “Reviews are one of the most important signals consumers consider when choosing where to shop, eat, stay or do business.”

In fact, 85 percent of people searching the web for goods and services now trust online reviews as much as they do recommendations from family and friends, according to a study from BrightLocal.

Positive reviews inspire trust in 73 percent of people who read them. Photo: iStock.com/tupungato

Positive reviews inspire trust in 73 percent of people who read them. Photo: iStock.com/tupungato

Moreover, reviews that are positive imbue trust in 73 percent of the people who read them, according to the study.

And more ominously, BrightLocal found that a full 49 percent of review readers simply refuse to do business with a company that is rated below four-out-of-five stars on review sites.

The good news for propane businesses looking to manage their reputations in the online review world is it’s a buyer’s market. There are dozens of packages you can check out to determine which fits your business goals and style best.

Plus, you’ll be able to narrow the field considerably by visiting business-oriented software review websites, which feature authentic evaluations of online review management packages that have been penned by other businesses.

Essentially, these sites offer a treasure trove of insight into the inner workings of all the major online review management packages – their strengths and weaknesses, their quirks and perks, and whether a specific package is even worth your time.

Sites featuring rundowns of all the major packages include FinancesOnline, Capterra, G2 Crowd, SoftwareSuggest, Software Advice and GetApp.

Real-time monitoring of major review websites is an important feature of your software. Photo: iStock.com/marchmeena29

Real-time monitoring of major review websites is an important feature of your software. Photo: iStock.com/marchmeena29

While different businesses have different needs, look for the following features in any online review software management solution you buy.

  • Real-time monitoring of all major review websites: This is really the most important job of any decent review hosting/nurturing package. A single negative review that goes viral can do significant damage to your propane business, so you’ll need real-time monitoring to ensure you’re continuously aware of reviews posted about your company in every major corner of the web. ReviewTrackers is one of the many packages that offer this service.
  • A reviews domain on your website: Many packages, including Trustpilot, offer you the ability to create and manage a reviews domain on your website.mThis will help offset unfair reviews that appear elsewhere. Many online review experts recommend you allow both positive and negative reviews about your company to appear in your reviews domain to establish the authenticity of the domain, but of course, that’s a call each propane business needs to make for itself.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO): All the new content you’ll be continually generating with a reviews domain on your website should automatically boost your company’s rank in search returns because the search engines reward websites publishing useful content. Some packages, like Grade.us, take this SEO boost a step further by ensuring the format and rendering of each review you publish on your website is SEO optimized.
  • Review solicitation: Best-of-breed packages offer you the ability to solicit reviews from your
    Soliciting reviews is an important capability. Photo: iStock.com/robinolimb

    Soliciting reviews is an important capability. Photo: iStock.com/robinolimb

    customers on your website, via social media, via email and smartphone text, at your call center and at other key points of interaction with your customers. Review solicitation modules, like the one found in PowerReviews, also often enable you to auto-syndicate reviews to the major review websites or to social media networks.

  • Easy video posting: Given that video is becoming an ever more powerful selling tool on the web and social media, some packages make it easy for reviewers to post video along with their review.
  • Q&A capability: Some package makers, like TurnTo, enable people to post questions on your reviews domain, which can be answered by a company spokesperson or another reviewer. Given that users of Amazon review tools have become accustomed to this capability, they may expect the same at your reviews domain.
  • Sort-by-star rating tool: Most Amazon users have grown accustomed to being able to auto-sort reviews for any given product based on star rating. The reason: Five-star reviews are influential, but thorough shoppers also look at the three-star and lesser-star reviews to verify that the five-star reviews ring true. Many online review package makers are aware of this preference and include a similar star-rating sorting tool with their solutions.
  • Customizable reports: Most online review packages also come with pre-designed reports and alert systems that you’ll come to rely on regularly. As you become more familiar with a package, you may want to be able to design your own custom reports. Fortunately, many packages offer the solution built-in.
  • Monitoring competitor reviews: Nearly as important as what’s being said about your propane business is what’s being said about your competitors. Some packages, like ReviewPush, include this feature. This package offers powerful insights into online reviews that detail your competitors’ triumphs and stumbles.
  • Easy integration with other business apps: It’s always easier when your reviews package plays nice with other software you may be using, such as Salesforce, Magento, BigCommerce, Adobe Experience Manager, Hootsuite or WordPress. Many online reviews solutions offer this kind
    Test your software on mobile platforms. Photo: iStock.com/microstockhub

    Test your software on mobile platforms. Photo: iStock.com/microstockhub

    of easy integration off the shelf.

  • Mobile friendly: You’d assume any online reviews management solution worth anything would be mobile friendly. Before you buy, thoroughly test your package’s ability to perform on smartphones and similar mobile devices, just in case.
  • Tight Facebook and Google integration: Given that a significant percentage of reviews appear on Facebook and Google, some package makers, like Reputology, have made it easier to deal with these reviews by giving you the ability to reply to reviews on Facebook and Google directly from the dashboard on your online reviews package.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): While AI has only recently made its way into online review packages, it’s worth taking a look at what’s available. Package maker Yotpo, for example, recently added AI-powered widgets to its solution. These pull-up reviews feature topics that are most important to the person reading your reviews.

Look for AI to work its way into an increasing number of online review packages in coming years. As with all aspects of computing, AI is expected to revolutionize the way companies handle and nurture reviews online. Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, described AI as one of the most profound tools humanity is working on and argues that it will have a more profound effect than electricity or fire.

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