Benefits of Reviewing Portals

Benefits of online customer reviews for business

Free advertising

Each review posted online by a customer is a form of advertising for your business. Your name and product are exposed to readers, increasing their awareness of who you are and what you do.

Improved search engine results

Reviews can also influence internet search engine results. Search engines such as Google take into account how many times your business name is mentioned in reviews. If you're mentioned a lot of times, you're likely to appear higher in the search results for a particular type of business than one that isn't reviewed very often.

Peer recommendations

Research shows that consumers generally trust peer recommendations more than they trust advertising. Consumers are most likely to trust recommendations from people they know, but many also consider online sources to be credible.

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How to Take Advantage of Online Review and Answer Sites

Be Flexible

When Best Price Nutrition discovered that the questions they answered on Yahoo! Answers had a higher click-through rate and resulted in more new customers than their company blog, they retooled their online strategy to focus more on reaching out to customers through Yahoo! Answers.

Be Genuine

It always helps to link to your website at the end of a post, though some forums forbid it and you should examine any online community's rules before engaging. Also, keep the tone personal rather than promotional. Use your name and title at the company, and for forums that require a user name, make sure you are consistent across all the platforms you post on. At all costs eschew corporate speak.

Don't lie or mislead.

This rule sounds simple, but enough companies flub it that it bears repeating. Some obvious examples to avoid emulating include John Mackey, Whole Foods' CEO, who was caught cheerleading Whole Foods and bashing its competitors on online stock market forums. In a similar vein, Lifestyle Lift, a national plastic surgery company, was forced to pay the highest price yet for this sort of practice when New York State fined the company $300,000 for "deceptive commercial practices" after its employees posted positive reviews of the company's services without revealing their, ahem, conflict of interest.

Put quality before quantity

Each answer you post reaches not just the original poster but anyone with similar interests and access to a search engine. This means you don't need to kill yourself responding to every forum user whose question has some bearing on your business.

Don't feed the trolls

An inevitability of anonymous message boards is angry or spiteful people with a lot of time on their hands. If you become engaged in a conversation with someone who is clearly irrational or has some sort of ax to grind, the best strategy is to ignore them.

Get insight into customer satisfaction

Services such as RatePoint, a suite of widgets that business owners can subscribe to, including customer reviews, surveys, and newsletters can be downloaded to any commercial website. The service helped Will Aubuchon who runs Hardwarestore.com customize his inventory to better meet customer demand and boost revenue by 5 percent last year.

Professional Review of Portals

Review of Web Portals

Aside from sites that enable users to post reviews of products and services, there are also those that work on a "professional" or "expert" basis. Some of these sites commission, and pay for, named individuals or bodies with expertise in a particular field to provide their review material, while others hire in-house editorial staff to perform these reviews. By endeavouring to maintain independence and objectivity and allowing their writers' credentials and site ethos to be scrutinised, such sites avoid many of the above-mentioned criticisms aimed at user-review sites.

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