Despite all of the advancements in marketing strategies, word of mouth is still one of the most powerful tools for getting the word out about your business and closing more deals.
With the rise of social media networks and digital business channels at our disposal, it’s easier than ever for customers to spread the word to others about their best and worst experiences with businesses.
Online reviews and other feedback can (and often does) get seen by a massive audience. Meaning that reviews can both make or break your company’s reputation.
And in a digital age when consumers have more options than ever to choose from, your reputation means more now than ever before.
The Importance of Online Reviews
Online review sites like Yelp, Google Maps, TripAdvisor, and others used crowd-sourced reviews to help users determine the overall success of your business. Keep in mind that loyal customers and current customers, as well as potential customers, use sites like these to help them make informed buying decisions.
Let’s take a look at why they are turning to reviews to help them make the best choices…
Online reviews are quick and easy to find, sort out and evaluate.
Search engines, mobile apps and review features on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter make it easy for consumers to search out reviews of different businesses in a wide array of categories.
Consumers can quickly assess a businesses’ overall score or rating and can read reviews filtered to represent the experiences of other customers with the specific products or services they are interested in.
Today, consumers don’t have to search out a review site in order to see feedback about your company or ratings. Simple Google searches often yield a host of ratings and scores without a single click taking place.
From rich snippets with included star ratings, to Google My Business listings, chances are your audience is evaluating you before you even get a chance to make your case as to why you’re the right option.
Which business or listing do you think gest the most clicks: one with a 5-star rating or one with a 3-star rating?
How about a business with only a handful of reviews versus one with dozens or even hundreds of positive reviews?
How Online Reviews Boost Your Business
Positive information about your company, brand or offers isn’t the only reason to have online reviews. There are a host of other ways reviews can help enhance your marketing efforts.
What does the Data Say?
• 68% of millennials trust online reviews over traditional advertising
• On average positive reviews increase sales by 18%
• Consumer reviews on average are trusted 12x more than info from the brand
• Review data in rich snippets can result in a 10-20% increase in CTR (Distilled)
• 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before formulating an opinion
But that’s not all…
• Research shows that every “star” a business gets can result in a 5-9% increase in sales
• Consumers spend on average 31% more on businesses with excellent reviews
• 72% of consumers state that positive reviews make them trust local businesses more
• According to Google, businesses with 3 or more stars earned 87.2% of clicks
• Given equal pricing, customers were 3.9 times more likely to go with the higher rated brand
What About Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Did you know that reviews make up to 10% of ranking SERP results?
Sites like Trip Advisor and Yelp that have been around for many years have a treasure trove of information within their databases. And popular search engines like Google favor sites like these who have a long-standing online presence.
Therefore, small businesses benefit because their Yelp and/or Facebook page ranks higher in search results than that of their regular website.
But not to worry, your business’ name can still show up as part of a search listing even though your page might not make the rank. Pages with a great number of positive online reviews on their sites tend to always get first-page exposure.
This fact alone exemplifies the importance of online reviews. The more positive reviews you can get for your business on sites like Trip Advisor, Angie’s List, or Yelp, the greater the chances are that your business will show up at the top of the list and on the first page of a Google search.
In Today’s Global Economy, Customers Have Choices
An astounding 72 percent of consumers say they trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. And because of that, most consumers are purposely searching out directories and review sites to help them make educated decisions about businesses. Review sites and online directories have evolved as multi-source data aggregators due to the nature of their vast platforms. Since sites like these offer a wide array of information, consumers view them as one of the most credible sources for online reviews.
In fact, potential buyers look at everything from basic business info, to the total number of reviews, to the number of stars a business has earned. Next, they begin reading individual reviews in order to see what they can expect from a certain business, and if they should even be using that business overall.
For example, if a restaurant has a long list of glowing reviews, then chances are people will schedule a reservation and even stop in while they’re out and about. Conversely, if that restaurant has a lot of similarly related negative reviews, then people won’t even waste their time looking it up on a map.
Online Reviews and The Power of Their Influence
In order to have a strong understanding of the impact of online reviews, it’s important to look at long-standing platforms like Yelp or Angie’s List. For example, on Yelp, reviews are given a whole star rating, with the average being rounded to the nearest half star. That half star might not look like much, but interestingly, it can be the difference as to whether or not a restaurant will be fully booked. In fact, an extra half-star causes a restaurant to be booked to capacity a whopping 19 percent more often.
In order to get your business bumped up to the next level, it’s important to collect as many positive reviews as possible. But just don’t stop there. You also need to consistently monitor and respond to each and every one of your reviews. Reviews that are regularly monitored and responded to will go a long way to positively influence prospective customers’ decisions and ramp up your online reputation.
Earn More Reviews and Earn More Business Today!
Negative reviews are inevitable. And that’s absolutely okay!
Try to always keep in mind that a mix of negative and positive reviews make your business look consistent and authentic. In leaving thorough, solid responses to customers’ reviews, you also show that you are concerned and caring towards your customers.
Always go out of your way to give your customers the best service possible. After all, the positive reviews will always outweigh the negative ones. Think of your business’ review page as your virtual business card that will allow prospective customers to search you out.
Finally, since online reviews and review sites are growing in popularity among the digital marketing world, it’s important to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities they provide. Now’s the time to begin actively sculpting your online reputation.