The internet has completely changed the way businesses attract customers and make sales. By the time someone enters your storefront or lands on your website, there is a good chance they’ve already formed an opinion about your business based on online reviews. Because of this, collecting good reviews should be a top marketing strategy for any business. There are plenty of ways to obtain these reviews, but review management software is the most efficient and streamlined method to manage your online reputation.

What is review management?

Review management is an important part of your online reputation management strategy. It involves requesting reviews from your customers, monitoring new reviews, and responding to both positive and negative reviews of your business.

Why do you need review management software?

1. To save time

As a business owner, the last thing you have time for is juggling five (or more!) systems and platforms. Doing so makes good communication impossible, which can hurt the consumer experience. A bad experience leads to a bad review, and a bad review sends potential clients running in the opposite direction. The solution? Review management software. This software allows you to answer questions, schedule appointments, send reminders, collect reviews, and get feedback all on the same platform, combining all your customer interactions into a single inbox.

2. To improve your reputation

Consumers who used to rely on word-of-mouth recommendations now rely on online reviews. In fact, over 80% of consumers trust reviews as much as they trust recommendations from family and friends. One quick Google search is all they need to make a decision about your business. If the reviews are good, then congratulations! You’ve likely won yourself another customer. If the reviews are negative or nonexistent, however, your potential client will probably move on to the next candidate. The best way to boost your reputation? Use a review management software to gather good reviews as well as constructive feedback.

3. To boost local SEO

Online businesses may not be as concerned with local SEO, but brick-and-mortar businesses rely on it. While organic SEO is based on relevant search terms, local SEO takes proximity into account (how close a consumer is to your store). Managing online reviews is one of the best ways to improve your local SEO ranking because good reviews will ensure Google sees you not only as a real business but also as a quality resource for your community.

boost local seo

Features to look for in a review management software

Request capabilities

The best way to gather more reviews? Ask your customers to leave reviews. A good review management software should streamline this process. For example, with Podium, you can text your customers a review request any time they make a purchase.

Monitoring capabilities

There are a lot of review sites out there, and it can be hard to keep track of all the reviews your business gets across various platforms. A review management system should allow you to monitor everything in one place. No more checking dozens of review sites every day—instead, you can view every review right from your review management system. 

Feedback management

Getting reviews is just one part of the equation. Responding to those reviews is just as important. As we stated above, managing reviews across various platforms can be overwhelming. A review management system should allow you to view and respond to every review you get from one dashboard.

How to find the best review management software for your business

Read customer reviews

A well-designed website, an eye-catching storefront, or a convincing sales pitch does not necessarily equate to a quality product. Instead of relying on what you see on the surface, check out customer reviews. Is the review management software you’re considering rated five stars? Or three? What pros and cons do customers mention? What do they think about the design, the ease of use, and the customer service? Client reviews are often honest and straightforward, making them one of the best resources when deciding which review management software to invest in. Check out Google and Facebook–they will give you access to hundreds of customer reviews that will provide an overall evaluation of the software.

Read expert reviews

Consulting the experts is another great way to choose the right review management software for your business. Look for articles about the software you’re considering–who is backing the company? What do people in the industry have to say about the software? Do industry experts have a positive outlook for the company or will the business not be around in a year or two? Customers can tell you if the product works for them right now; experts can tell you if it’ll continue working for years to come.

Sites like Capterra and G2Crowd can also give you a detailed glimpse of what each platform offers; these sites break down the reviews by features such as “ease of use” and “value for money” so you can better determine which review management software fits your specific needs.

Compare features

Capterra offers more than just customer reviews; the site also provides a side-by-side comparison. Most review management programs have a variety of features, and no one software is exactly like the next. Once you’ve looked at reviews and narrowed down your options, you can compare each review management software to find the one that best suits your needs. Every company requires different features, but there are some basic functions that any review management software platform should provide right out of the box.

  1. Dashboard

Clean and organized dashboards make any software easier to use. They display the essential information right on your main page so you can quickly navigate throughout the platform. Some software might have all the tools and features, but without a dashboard, you’ll waste your time clicking through a dozen different pages as you try to navigate the software and find what you need.

  1. Feedback

A one-star review does nothing for you except hurt your reputation unless it comes with feedback. Feedback is essential when trying to improve your product or service but, surprisingly, not all review management systems allow you to gather feedback.

  1. Analytics

If you want to know how you rank among your competitors, you must have the ability to collect and view data. Having access to analytics will help you spot trends, monitor growth, and meet your review goals. Without analytics, you may get more and better reviews, but you won’t have access to the information that allows you to improve the other parts of your business.

  1. Multi-Channel Collection and Filtering

Google, Facebook, HomeAdvisor, Houzz–there are dozens of places where consumers can find reviews. The best review management software will collect authentic reviews from as many of them as possible. When all the reviews are gathered in one place, it’s easier to filter and respond, ultimately giving you a clear picture of your reputation and the feedback necessary to improve your process.

  1. Unified Inbox

Instead of switching from Facebook Messenger to text to Google Click-to-Message, a unified inbox allows you to see all your messages from every channel on one platform, making communication quick and seamless. When the communication process is easy for you, it’s easy for your customers, too!

How to look at the results

Any review management software can claim to provide a streamlined review-collecting process, but do they have evidence to back up that claim? As you compare review management software, look for real-world examples or case studies. If the case studies support the claim, you may have found the perfect review management software for your business.

How Sherman’s received 726 new reviews in three months

received new reviews

Sherman’s, a family-owned furniture retailer in Illinois, had plenty of happy customers, but the satisfaction numbers from surveys weren’t reflected online. They needed a quick, user-friendly way to collect reviews, so they turned to Podium. Set-up was easy, and Sherman’s employees quickly adopted the program.

Since using Podium, Sherman’s has boosted their Google rating from a low 4 to a 4.8 and seen a 40% increase in reviews; now, Sherman’s has ten times more reviews than their competitors, and their online presence is consistent with the quality service they provide.

“[Podium] has radically changed how we’re perceived online.” – David Weiss, Marketing Manager for Sherman’s

Tips for successful review managment

Once the reviews start flowing in, you’ll need to know how to stay on top of everything. Here are a few tips.

  • Respond to the positive and negative reviews.
  • Respond quickly. This will help build credibility in the eyes of the people who find you online.
  • Show up on multiple review sites. Google is a great starting point, but you should consider creating a presence on niche review sites as well.
  • Implement changes based on the feedback you receive. Your customers will thank you for it.

Boost your business’s online reputation

Review management software does far more than collect reviews–it allows you to boost your reputation, increase your local SEO ranking, and save time by creating a streamlined communication process. After all, a customer’s buying journey starts long before they ever hit the checkout button or pull out their wallet; review management software can make the entire journey easy and enjoyable for both you and the consumer which, of course, leads to another great review.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a review management system? A review management system is a tool that helps you manage your online reputation. A good review management system will make it easy for you to request, view, and respond to reviews.

How do you manage a review? The most important thing you can do when you get a new review is respond to it. Responding to reviews (both the good ones and the bad ones) will help position your brand as one that cares deeply about their customers. Occasionally, you might get a review that is completely untrue. In cases like this, you can request that the review site removes the review.

Pat Johnson
Pat Johnson Product Marketing Manager

Pat Johnson is a product marketing professional at Podium, the leading communication system that connects local businesses with their customers. He is based in Denver, Colorado

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