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When consumers decide to purchase a product or service, one of the first places they go in this day in age is the internet. As they begin their searches, the flood of options start pouring in, ranging from small, local mom-and-pop shops to big-box online enterprises.  Each one is trying to buy the consumers’ attention proving they are the one to choose. So the question on every local business owner’s mind is, “how do I make my business stand out from all of the others?” The answer—reviews.

Reviews have always been an important part of the buying process, even back before the internet was a thing. A word-of-mouth recommendation is the most trusted form of review a business can get. With the continued evolution of the internet, social media, and eCommerce sites, online reviews have become the word-of-mouth recommendation of the internet. In fact, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends.

Online reviews are a quick and easy way for consumers to narrow down their choices.  During the decision-making process, potential customers are typically looking at the following points.

  • Average Star Rating
    Almost every review site across the internet has a rating of one through five stars that you can award a business or product to show your overall satisfaction. They will generally showcase the average star rating at the top of the review section.
  • Number of Reviews
    92% of consumers will hesitate to buy a product if there are no reviews left by customers. They also look at the timeframe when the reviews are submitted. The older the review, the less weight they give it.
  • Customer Feedback
    While you would think people would gravitate to the 5-star reviews to read the feedback, 82% of people seek out the ones with the lowest start rating first. They want to see what the complaints and feedback were before migrating toward the positive reviews—making the next point even more crucial.
  • Business’ Response
    Negatives reviews aren’t always bad as long as you respond to them quickly and show that you want to work with them to resolve any issues. Responding matters. It shows that you not only care about your customers’ satisfaction and the quality of your product/service but that you are always monitoring and listening for feedback and ways to improve.

Local businesses need to play an active role in developing and maintaining their online reputation to ensure your business leaves the right impression on potential buyers as they are researching different purchase options. So if you’re not already, it’s time to build out your online review management strategy. Still not quite convinced? Read on for a few more reasons that are sure to change your mind.

1.      Reviews Make You More Visible

Google’s number one goal is to provide users with what they are looking for as quickly as possible. The algorithm has millions of website pages and business listings to choose from when determining which businesses to show on the first page of organic search results. And we hate to break it to you, but it trusts your customers’ opinions of you more than your own because let’s face it; there isn’t (or at least we hope not) a business out there that doesn’t think they are the best company out there.

2.      Reviews Can Turn Shoppers Into Buyers

Think about what you see when you search for a business nearby. The first thing that pops up is a list of local businesses on Google Maps that includes their Google star rating, a link to their website, and contact information.

More often than not, a high star rating will drive a user to click on your business over the others around it, pulling up your Google My Business profile. They are then automatically served a wealth of information regarding your business, products, and what your customers think of you, allowing them to make a snap judgment about whether they continue or move on to the next listing.

Customer reviews can increase conversions by 270%. Therefore, having a strong review presence online can bring attention to your business as they are researching online and seal the deal and increase sales.

Make Asking for a Review Second Nature

A new stat out shows 63% of consumers have left positive reviews for local businesses, and only 32% admit to leaving negative reviews. This stat appears to dispel the old review rule of thumb, “people are more likely to leave a review for a negative experience than a positive one.”

In years past, many assumed that people don’t bother going through the hassle of leaving a review unless they are particularly heated up about something. But now, leaving a review to share a good experience or their love of a product is easier than ever, resulting in more and more positive reviews.

It has been found that 68% of customer reviews are left because the local business asked for it. And a majority of the time, the customer was simply asked to provide feedback about their experience and not directly solicited for a review.

 

That may seem like a tall order, but the review process can quickly and easily become a normal part of how a business manages its online presence. Checking for and requesting reviews can be as simple as asking in person, posting on Facebook, or sending a text message. So, get out there and start letting your best customers know that you value their feedback (and show them where they can share it). That’s what we call a win-win.

Looking for an all-in-one solution for review management or help planning a strategy to generate more reviews? Ask our Digital Experts how we can help!