As the experts at Brand.com, review the content posted to online review sites, such as Yelp.com, they cannot help but be concerned. After all, these reviews are not just important for how they reflect on a marketer’s ego or a business owner’s vanity. Likewise, complaints posted to online ripoff boards are much more than mere annoyances or frustrations. No, negative online feedback makes a real, bottom line difference; as unflattering reviews pile up, they can send conversion rates plummeting.
This is not so surprising, of course, for online marketers who know even a little bit about modern day consumer behaviors. Today’s consumers have a world of information at their fingertips—online search engines that can immediately locate relevant product reviews, and online review sites that can offer quick summaries of how well various products and services really work. In other words, doing consumer research has never been easier. Online shoppers are taking advantage of this, and reviews are becoming increasingly influential, as a result.
Indeed, as the pros at Brand.com review these trends, it is not unreasonable to say that a spate of bad reviews can send any marketer’s conversion rates into a downward spiral—but then, nobody really contests this point. Marketers have long been accepting to the notion—infuriating though it may be—that online reviews can lead to lost sales and lost profits. What many marketers are not so certain of: How to positively and proactively deal with bad reviews.
There are basically two schools of thought here—but only one of them is likely to have a positive impact on conversion rates. The experts at Brand.com review both methodologies, in the paragraphs that follow.
Brand.com Review: The Importance of Suppression Programs
There is a right way and there is a wrong way to handle unwanted reviews, and it is important to first note the wrong way. The experts at Brand.com review the activity of many marketers who respond to negative reviews head-on, fighting for their own dignity and for the integrity of the products they’re selling. This might sound like a sufficiently proactive response on paper, but in reality it is counterproductive.
Why? Because when there are bad reviews out there, the foremost priority should be making them less visible to consumers. Responding to reviews has the opposite effect, however. When marketers respond to reviews, it draws more attention to them, and even signals to search engines that the reviews in question are valuable and relevant. Responding to reviews means more people are going to see them—and when the reviews are dismissive of the product, that’s lethal.
For this reason, the pros at Brand.com review plenty of other methods for coping with bad reviews, and the best option by far is to mount a suppression program. What is a suppression program? It essentially means that, rather than directly addressing bad reviews, marketers simply try to make them disappear. They inundate the search engine algorithms with positive content, and effectively push unwanted reviews out of the way. The reviews may not totally vanish from the face of the Internet—that’s impossible to accomplish—but search engine users (among them potential buyers) will only see the good stuff.
It is obvious why this is the preferable response to bad reviews. According to Brand.com, reviews that are responded to directly actually gain more power, more stature, more influence—but a suppression program is a kind of disappearing act for unwanted reviews, leaving consumers with only honest, positive, brand-enhancing information about the products they’re considering.
And, if negative reviews have a very real and negative impact on conversions, you can rest assured that positive content also has a very real—only this time useful and affirming—impact.
This Brand.com review of suppression programs does not really do full justice to how hard it is to pull this off. A suppression program is not something a marketer can do in an afternoon, nor is it necessarily something that can be done on a small-scale, DIY basis (thought it is sometimes worth trying). No, truly flooding the search engines with positive content means there must be huge volumes of compelling content developed; that the content must be well-composed, engaging, and helpful; and that it must be distributed through PR-effective syndicates and publishing platforms. Put it all together and it is obviously a tall order; no wonder so many marketers entrust their suppression programs to outside companies.
With that said, review suppression may be the only real way to dampen the impact of unsavory online criticisms. The pros at Brand.com review the suppression needs of many marketing professionals, and it has found suppression to be a superior strategy.