Bad online reviews are GOOD for business

Panic, shame, and anger spread quickly through an office scorned by a neutral or negative Google My Business or Facebook review. How dare someone tar the five-star record?!? How will we recover from this? How will we respond, or even reciprocate?

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25th January 2022, 5 minute read

The paranoia sets in… will our competitors see it, or even worse, did they write it? Several times the phone has rung at our agency with a flustered client at the end asking us for immediate help to exterminate an offending review. However upsetting bad reviews can be, particularly if personal about staff or damning of a product, they are not always bad for business, and can in fact be a positive contribution to your company’s online presence.

So, before you hit delete, read on to find out how to capitalise on your 4.5-star rating.

Protecting what your brand stands for

If you were a consumer who had taken time to write honest feedback about a product or service, imagine how frustrated you would feel if you later found out that your review had been removed.

Consumers like to help other potential customers decide whether to buy. They also feel the need to support brands with improving their service – this usually means they want you to do better because they’d like to buy from you again.


Case Study: PortfolioMetrix

From accessing our experience in managing marketing automation, to turning content production into a fully formed content strategy, PortfolioMetrix plugged into the core of our capabilities.

If a business is resistant to feedback it can be a real turn-off – remember the old aphorism “the customer is always right”? With this in mind, when you earn a review, take time to reply kindly and carefully, and in line with your brand values. Whilst it may be tempting to be witty in response to negativity, avoid playing word wars. Current and future customers will see you have made efforts to understand your customer’s feedback and are happy to build rapport with them. If a loyal existing customer sees a slightly negative review, they may even feel compelled to leave a more positive review to balance things out. Onlookers will trust they will be dealt with fairly, and we all know that trust is an important factor in a buying journey.

Appearing genuinely appealing online

There are, sadly, businesses and service providers who bend the rules and fake their reviews: not just asking staff, friends, or family to bump up the scores, but even going so far as to pay freelancers to write reviews for the business, even if they’ve never been a customer.

Now that consumers have become savvy to this deceitful process, the draw of a business with myriad 5-star reviews and an impeccable feedback sheet suddenly feels a little suspicious.

An authentic mix of real-life experiences helps the consumer take a balanced view of whether they would like to buy from you or not. After all, nobody’s perfect. Neil Patel refers to this as your customers seeing what might happen in the “worst case scenario” and how you deal with it.

Search engines love reviews discovered in recent research that third party reviews contribute heavily to ranking factors – having almost a 50% influence. In 2020, review ratings and the number of reviews a company had were listed as number 8 in importance by a collection of Search Marketers in their annual review of local search ranking influences.

Therefore, it makes sense to collect as many reviews as possible from a diverse selection of customers. Don’t be afraid of constructive feedback – I was always taught in the workplace that “feedback is a gift” as it helps us grow – and that seems to fit in business to consumer search marketing too.

In addition to feedback being useful for process improvements and product development, it is a gift for content marketers too. We talk a lot about the value of earned media; reviews are a quick and meaningful way to collect earned media that can be used on your websites, blogs, social media and in newsletters.

Next steps for your marketing strategy

To harness the power of reviews, make sure they are part of your ongoing marketing strategy. You can use our “5 Steps to Marketing Maturity” template to assess where you are in your review management process and how you can evolve this strand of your marketing plan. Consider:

- Which platforms can we collect reviews on? Could we add more?

- How do we encourage or incentivise our customers to leave reviews?

- Which platforms can be used to broadcast a request for reviews?

- What are our internal processes for responding to reviews quickly and appropriately?

- How do we measure the impact of reviews on-site traffic?

- Where can we share our reviews with the public?

Our Client Partners help businesses manage their online reputations, evolve marketing strategies, and create automated measurement processes. To learn more about the ways we can support you with collecting online reviews, please get in touch.

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