Advertising is telling others that your company is good. Branding, however, is people recognizing on their own that a company is good. No matter how marketing professionals want their company brand to be perceived by its customers, if it’s not seen as trustworthy, transparent, or credible, it will not be successful.
Imagine being a potential customer ready to make a purchase or sign on the dotted line with a new partner â€” what will help validate your decision more? Is it a company salesperson with a quota to meet or an unbiased third party?Â It’s more than likely that unbiased party because it’s someone who has been in a similar position as the target customer and has experience with those same products and services. These online strangers can help assure future customers and clients that they’re in good hands because they generally don’t have an agenda.
That’s why collecting third-party reviews has shown success for brands in various industries. According to HubSpotOpens a new window , 75% of consumers don’t view advertisements as trustworthy. However, 90% will believe a brand recommendation from online reviews. Even if customers don’t know the people leaving those reviews, third-party feedback is still viewed as more credible than advertisements, making collecting reviews a great way to improve a company’s reputation.
Begin With a Review Generation Strategy
The first step in advancing brand marketing with third-party reviews is to create a review generation strategy. There’s an art to asking customers for reviews â€” no one wants to bother their clients. Emailing and asking every client for a review at once won’t lead to the desired results.Â
A successful review generation campaign takes time and comes down to how well a business knows its customers â€” personalization matters. Let customers get familiar with the offerings first, then ask when it feels natural, not forced.
Have a Communication Plan
Reviews need to be honest. Brands can build a great deal of trust through transparency, which means not scrubbing away negative reviews. It’s important to be prepared for them to keep the brand accountable, trustworthy, and credible. Thank each customer for taking the time to leave a review, no matter the rating, and respond with gratitude and appreciation for the feedback.Â
It’s important not to get defensive, but if the review is fake, it’s more than okay to respond and let them know there is no record of working with that account. That way, potential customers reading those reviews can make that distinction and not be deterred by the lower ranking.
Align Your Brand With the Right Review Sites
Be aware that there are many third-party review sites to choose from, but not all of them will be worth creating profiles on. Different industries will benefit from different sites. For example, an IT services agency isn’t going to get much traction from Yelp! But it will have more success directing its customers to leave reviews on a Google Business Profile.
How many third-party review sites a company should invest in depends on their team’s bandwidth and how many of those sites align with their industry and brand. If a marketing team finds themselves concerned with spreading themselves too thin, committing to at least two third-party review websites to create profiles on, maintain, and generate reviews, should do the trick.
Align Your Strategy With Other Departments
When it comes to improving a business’s brand marketing strategy, it takes a village. Instead of tasking only the marketing team with review generation, meet with other departments and identify opportunities to create win-win situations for everyone.Â
Tap into the customer service and sales teams to identify customers that would be good to reach out to. In return, these teams can offer customers incentives, helping them potentially close more deals and get valuable feedback for improving the business process, which is essentially the point of reviews.
Not only does review generation help a company’s branding efforts, but collecting third-party reviews has technical benefits as well. SEO departments are often thankful for the additional keyword opportunities, referral traffic, and boost in offsite ratings that third-party reviews provide.Â
A study from MozOpens a new window found that the full algorithm Google uses to rank sites and content is not fully known (and ever-evolving), but offsite SEO factors (which include reviews) are likely to carry more than 50% of the ranking factor weight. Reviews also help SEO teams identify what is resonating with customers so they can lend that knowledge to marketing teams to help craft relatable messaging.Â
Once a customer leaves a review, the possibilities are endless. There are numerous ways to promote them. Or, the website development or design teams may have ideas of how to embed or showcase them on the company website and more.
Technical Ways To Boost Reviews
Now that satisfied customers have left their constructive feedback, demonstrate that not only is this brand trustworthy, but it’s also one that values what its customers think. It makes a difference to communicate to customers and clients that those opportunities for improvement are taken seriously.Â
It’s also worth highlighting the positive reviews. As mentioned earlier, it doesn’t get much better than letting a happy customer do the talking for you as it relates to the high-quality work you do.Â
Incorporating third-party reviews into brand marketing strategy is a never-ending cycle, but the efforts of review generation will benefit more than just improving the brand. No matter the industry, a company that strategically collects and displays reviews will advance its SEO, content marketing, sales, and more.