We all know that first impressions matter. Individuals only have a handful of seconds to make a good first impression and establish rapport with those they interact with. Like the old adage says, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression—and that knowledge guides our choices, like choosing to don a suit and tie over sweatpants to a business meeting, for example.
On the web, your virtual reputation is just as critical, with audiences forming judgments about your online presence in even less time than an in-person encounter—a rapid 50 milliseconds, on average. These virtual verdicts constitute your online reputation, a make-it-or-break-it perception of your business that determines your success (or your failure).
In the ever-changing landscape of the internet age, virtual word of mouth has a powerful impact on your online reputation. Customer reviews are one of the most important interactions you will have with audiences, allowing you to gauge (and improve) the performance of your business.
Even more, they greatly affect local SEO, online visibility, and audiences’ overall impression of your business—which influences your bottom line. Highly-rated reviews—and more of them—drive higher rankings and more sales. Simply put, reviews are everything to your business.
Part of managing—and taking control—of your online reputation is actively monitoring the reviews that your business receives.
Why Do You Need to Monitor Your Reviews?
Monitoring your reviews doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process, and the benefits are numerous. Monitoring can help you keep your finger on the pulse of the online conversation surrounding your business and enact strong customer service practices. It also helps you improve and refine your business. Because your business may have multiple locations and is receiving reviews on a number of different sites, you can keep things streamlined with online monitoring tools that allow you to view, manage, analyze, and respond to all of your business’ reviews in one place.
Online review monitoring tools not only help for organizational purposes, but they aid in increasing consumer confidence and satisfaction as potential customers see the content of your reviews and how you respond. You can spot and tend to potential problems and curate positive experiences with customers. These tools also provide you with real-time feedback to help your business improve to meet the needs of your customers, motivate employees, and give you a clear idea of the overall performance and perception of your business.
Best Review Monitoring Tools
Let’s take a closer look at a handful of the web’s most popular review monitoring tools, noting the pros and cons of each, as you set out to determine which tool will help you best actively manage your online reputation.
Okay, so maybe we’re a little biased, but we think we’ve got your gold-star review monitoring tool right here at Podium. We’re a cloud-based solution that helps you streamline more of your monitoring tasks (hey, we know you have a lot on your plate), so that you can manage your online reputation in a stress-free—and impactful—way.
What We Offer: Forget the learning curve of other review monitoring tools—Podium makes the monitoring process easy. With responsive software, you can manage reviews from phone or desktop, perfect for on-the-go business people. Our tool provides you with insightful data with our Review Grade tool that helps you quantify the impact of your online reputation, giving you meaningful insight into the performance of your review monitoring and business performance. Our tool also has ready-to-send review templates (including text) that are frictionless for customers, and it integrates with applications your business already uses. You can respond to reviews from one inbox, and choose a plan that meets your business’ needs—we know one size (or budget) doesn’t fit all. Lastly, you’ll see results: our tool can help increase the number of your reviews by 15%. (To be honest, the “pro” list goes on and on. Chat with us to learn more.)
Best Free Review Monitoring Tool
Less a review monitoring tool and more an internet listening platform, Google Alerts notifies you by email when it identifies online conversation around a phrase or keyword you’ve tagged.
Pros: Alerts is a great tool for gauging the broad online conversation happening your business. You can tag multiple keywords to watch and receive alerts at varying frequencies. A good starting place for online reputation management.
Cons: As great as Google Alerts is for beginning basic social listening, it’s not specific to just reviews, so it might be too across-the-board for thorough online review management. The broad collection of results might get difficult to manage or implement into business reputation management. Google has even said the tool’s not as comprehensive as they’d like it to be.
Best Multi-Location Monitoring Tool
A tool aimed at helping business manage feedback and optimize the customer experience.
Pros: This monitoring tool works on unlimited locations, has multi-level dashboards, missing profile reports, and a streamlined feed that makes review management simple. It’s outfitted with a customizable review request tool, plus detailed statistics provided for the requests sent out.
Cons: Some users have reported a lack of features, a learning curve for using the tool’s interface, and difficulty in auto-posting good reviews to their site. Plus, the costs include a price per location per month.
Best Ease-of-Use Monitoring Tool
A tool aimed at measuring the customer experience and comprehensive online review management.
Pros: This monitoring tool manages reviews from more than 100 sites and allows users to see customer experience patterns with trending keywords. An easy-to-interpret interface allows for collaboration within teams of unlimited users, and for the creation of groups for local line-of-sight with assigned stakeholders. Their app allows on-the-go use.
Cons: Some users would like review updates, better pricing, additional monitoring education and resources, and increased visual dashboard features and reporting options. Users stated also wanting to be able to respond to reviews within the program, instead of having to click out to the individual review sites.
Best Insight-Providing Monitoring Tool
A tool that helps businesses turn review content into actionable data and solutions for building and improving their online reputation and customer service.
Pros: The tool’s semantic analysis technology helps businesses use data to make decisions and allows them to keep tabs on how reviews are managed by their teams. With Reputology, businesses can delegate issues to appropriate employees, spot trends, compare storefronts, and use an informative “decision tree” to help guide them through appropriate review response.
Cons: Users expressed frustration at only being able to monitor through the tool, not respond to reviews. Some requested more customization tools, automatic (and faster) updating on new sites, and niche-focused review aggregation.
Best Social Listening Monitoring Tool
A tool focused on local SEO analytics and reputation management for multi-location brands.
Pros: Chatmeter boasts a comprehensive scope of features, analyzing over a million locations and billions of customer reviews. The tool monitors social media mentions, blog articles, and reviews. It allows you to place customer testimonials on your website and easily share them.
Cons: Only monitors reviews found on a handful of local search and review sites. Because it involves more than just review monitoring, it may not the dedicated tool your business needs to succeed.
Best Customizable-to-Your-Business Monitoring Tool
An online reputation management service that helps correct and improve information about businesses that appears on the web, helping them put their best face forward.
Pros: This tool offers tailored features for specific industries, and aids in search optimization, social advertising, and enhanced service quality. Customization and based-on-your-business packages available.
Cons: Like with Chatmeter, Reputation.com features a more comprehensive tool, which may not give your business adequate attention to review monitoring exclusively. Because of its customization to individual industries, the program's tools may or may not apply to your specific business, and may be expensive based on your needs.
Review Monitoring Best Practices
Now that you’ve gotten a basic education in the review monitoring tools that exist on the web, you should understand some best practices that should guide your review monitoring processes, regardless of which tool you choose to utilize in your business.
- Monitoring Frequency: Just as you do with your social media and blog content, manage your review monitoring on a schedule, establishing the frequency of viewing and responding to reviews based on the needs, size, and capabilities of your business. You don’t need to be glued to your keyboard 24/7 to effectively monitor reviews. Simply establish a schedule to keep things organized and manageable. You’ll want to be attentive and available, without being obsessive.
- Responding to Reviews: Recognizing and responding to reviews—the good, bad, and the ugly—shows your customers that you not only that you appreciate their patronage, but that you care about their concerns and needs. In fact, 41% of them say that business’ review responses make them believe the company really cares about their customers. Respond appropriately and uniquely to each individual (meaning: no robo-responses). Your responses largely determine how audiences think about your customer service practices and the kinds of relationships you build with them.
- Utilizing Review Feedback: Like we mentioned, reviews are the crucial virtual word of mouth that helps your business flourish. But reviews provide important feedback and insight into your business that should impact your decisions and operations. Reviews help you measure customer satisfaction and clue you into aspects of your business that need refining and adjusting. Identify and correct customer pain-points to improve your online reputation and provide buyers with positive experiences.
- Buying Reviews: We’ll be clear: buying reviews is a big no-no. Not only is it against many review sites’ terms of service, but it bypasses the authentic, positive feedback you want your business to receive—and that happy customers are usually already willing to give (a reported 68% of consumers left a local business a review when asked). Plus, it makes your business look shady. Build relationships and your online reputation by proactively soliciting reviews, not by offering bribes.
If you aren’t soliciting reviews from your customers, and actively monitoring them, it’s time to step up your online reputation management game. The fact of the matter is: you need reviews (ideally, positive ones) to help your business grow. The virtual impression you make, and ultimately, your online rep, determines the success of your business—in a big way.
Review Monitoring Buyer’s Guide
In the past, businesses have grown organically, via grassroots marketing and word of mouth. Growth was slower and incremental, but since the internet has reached a critical mass, things have changed drastically. Consumers are no longer relying solely on their friends, family, or coworkers for recommendations: they now have access to recommendations and reviews from thousands of individuals in their community at the push of a button.
It’s amazing to see how a review from a well-respected Google Guide or blogger can make or break a business. That’s why online reviews shouldn’t be viewed as a nice-to-have tactic, but rather an integral part of your business’s growth strategy. Below are three ways that review monitoring can help increase your business’s bottom line.
Review Monitoring Can Increase Your Revenue
When you’re working in a competitive market, any way to differentiate your business from the competitor could mean the difference between winning and losing a customer. One factor that has proven to be important to customers is the overall star ranking.
After enlisting the professional reputation management services of Podium, the Park Place dealerships saw a 31% increase in their average star rating after going from less than a hundred reviews to 337. The director of body shop operations confessed, “We’ve still gotten one-star reviews in that period, but we’ve gotten so many five-stars and four-stars that the one-star reviews don’t affect us like they used to."
Monitor Reviews & Increase Customer Loyalty
According to a recent article in Econsultancy, businesses with 50 or more reviews per product can see an increased conversion rate of 4.6%. Additionally, online reviews can produce an average sales uplift of 18%. After enlisting Podium’s online reputation management services, Creech Import Repair more than tripled their number of reviews, resulting in more business and an increase in customer loyalty.
This means that business reviews do more than just increase awareness -- they also have a significant influence on purchasing decisions. Soliciting reviews from customers shows that you have an interest in and value their opinion, which has the power to engender loyalty and increase the lifetime value of your customers.
Online Review Monitoring Can Turn Browsers into Buyers
Online review monitoring is also a good way to encourage consumers to take the next step from browsing to buying. This proved to be true when a State Farm agent in Alberta went from 132 Google reviews to 1,779 after using Podium: “We’re quoting more business because we have more Google reviews.”
Additionally, visitors to your site that interact with both reviews and customer questions and answers are much more likely to purchase while visiting your site. The best way to ensure you have an adequate number of reviews to answer potential customers questions and concerns is to actively ask your customers for reviews.
All That and More
We’ve discussed how online review monitoring can greatly benefit your business, but at what cost? We understand that you’ve got a business to run, which leaves you with little time to ask for, reply to, and monitor reviews.
Thankfully, Podium makes it easier for you to enlist your entire staff to participate in sending review invites and responding to negative reviews. It makes it easy to track your reputation online, and it gives you valuable insight into your brand’s performance. That way, you can leverage Podium to grow your business and drive up profits. And since our tools automate and streamline the process for you, you’ll save time as well.