• May 14, 2019

SMBs Failing to Urge Customers to Leave Positive Reviews, Research Finds

Not enough small businesses advocate for their brands in ways that allow them to build their online reputations, new findings from Clutch Research's The Manifest suggest.

Small businesses that want to exercise greater control over their online reputations must first claim control over their online narratives by encouraging customers to leave positive reviews and sharing positive content about them on social media. But not enough are doing that, with the research discovering that only 40 percent encourage happy customers to leave positive online reviews.

Although 53 percent of small businesses actively manage online reviews by publicly responding to them, less than half proactively promote their own brands online, the research concluded. That puts these businesses at a distinct disadvantage, experts agree, noting that customers are more likely to complain than they are compliment good service.

"It's not hard to get a happy client to write a review, but it does take some nudging," said Alan Rabinowitz, CEO of SEO Image, a search engine optimization and reputation management company, in the report.

The good news from the report is that small businesses do recognize the impact of online reviews and respond to them. More than half of small businesses (53 percent) respond to online reviews publicly and 48 percent of them respond privately.

Graph - How Small Businesses Manage Negative Reviews

Graph - How Small Businesses Manage Negative Social Media Comments

It's especially important for small businesses to respond publicly to negative reviews to demonstrate they care about the feedback they receive from customers, said online reputation management experts.

"If a potential customer sees a company's response to a negative review, they're more likely to buy from them because it shows they care about their customers' feedback," said Anthony Will, CEO of Reputation Resolutions, an online reputation management company, in the report.

Most small businesses that monitor their online reputation (94 percent) have a social media presence, but only 44 percent use social media to promote and share positive content about their brands.

Experts also suggest that SMBs use social media to share news about their brands as a way to build rapport with customers and claim more control over their reputations. At the same time, though, they should be careful to avoid coming across as too self-promotional.

"You want to help your target audience make the best decision for them, not just say how great you are," said Lauren Elliott, marketing communications manager at Thee Digital, a web design and marketing agency, in the report.

The report concludes that small businesses should respond publicly and professionally to online reviews, encourage happy customers to leave positive reviews, and use social media to promote positive information about their brand. In so doing, they should combine proactive and reactive strategies, it said.

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