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Online Reviews for Small Businesses

Online reviews are an integral part of how today’s customers judge a business. Consumers read online reviews on Google, Facebook, and Yelp, and there are a ton of industry-specific review sites, too, like WebMD, Zillow, and Autotrader, to name a few.

Research shows that 94% of consumers have stayed away from businesses after reading their negative reviews.

Businesses must understand that online reviews are more than just a way for existing clients to express their opinions about a company’s product or service. Online Reviews also influence local SEO rankings, and Online reviews can be a valuable marketing tool to validate reputations and improve revenue if used correctly.

If you are new to online reviews or managing a business, this article will outline why they are essential for companies. It will also provide a high-level view of how you can manage them to help your bottom line.

Why Online Reviews are Beneficial.
Online Reviews are online references from your very own customers, and they are public and collected by business review sites. It doesn’t get much better than having your customers tell others why your business is fantastic.

Do People Rely on Online Reviews?

Industry research shows that people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation by 84%. Research also indicates that reviews influence buying decisions more than any other form of marketing.

Here are more stats about Online Customer Reviews that confirm the growing impact reviews have on consumer behavior:

  • 95% Search for local businesses online
  • 91% Read online reviews about local business
  • Most consumers look at 2+ review sites before making a decision
  • 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
  • 73% of consumers think that reviews older than three months aren’t relevant

More Review Statistics Here

What are the Best Review Sites?

Not sure where to start? The following sites generate 88% of all reviews online; Google (73%), Yelp (6%), Facebook (3%), and Tripadvisor (3%). Try these sites first and then consider any industry-specific reviews sites.

Benefits of Online Reviews for Business

People are going to leave bad reviews; it happens. A successful company will harness its positive and negative reviews to gain customer loyalty and improve performance.

Google_my_Business

As you consider creating an online review strategy, keep these benefits in mind:

 

  • Reviews will help to build your brand’s image.
  • Reviews provide social proof.
  • Reviews influences purchases
  • Reviews make brands trustworthy and credible.
  • Reviews help local SEO Searches
  • Reviews, Good and Bad, contain valuable customer feedback.

https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey/

KPI’s That Determine If You Have A Good Review Site:

Online Reviews have a direct impact on a business. What is not always clear is how to measure the success of your review sites; it’s not just volume and star ratings.

Average Star Rating: Anything under a 4.0 is driving people away from your business. Unfortunately, it is simple as that. 4.0 to 4.5 is what people expect. Anything above 4.5 is when you see the lead-generating juice online reviews provide.

Total Number of Review or complete lack of reviews: Volume is a significant KPI. However, you can have 25 reviews and a 5.0 ranking, but it’s a red flag if you have been in business for more than ten years. It would be best to have a strategy that cultivates generating a steady flow of new reviews every month.

Age of Reviews: It is no longer relevant if your last review is from two years ago. People are going to wonder, ‘what’s changed. Research shows reviews less than three months old are becoming irrelevant.

Average Ratings Across Multiple Sites: At a glance, reviews across other platforms should be similar in volume and rankings. If not, it will be considered a red flag and investigated by a consumer.

How a Business Responds to Negative Reviews: Respond to all reviews, the good and the bad. Potential clients will judge the way you respond. Never get into a battle with an upset customer online. Always drive that conversation offline as fast as possible. After you fix their issue – ask them to adjust their review rating (it’s only fair).

The sentiment of The Reviews. The attitude of your customers will shine through here, which will be a direct reflection on your company. (After reading reviews as long as we have, when reviews’ sentiment changes, it’s usually due to a change in management and how you treat people.)

Google_Business_Reviews

How To Get More Online Reviews

Often the best way to get more reviews is to ask. Don’t offer incentives; people don’t want to learn all those reviews they just read were bribes, and for Google, it’s against the rules. People want to give you their opinion of your business. 

Want a few more ideas? Check out 5 ways to get more five star reviews from your very own customers

If you address the main three excuses why people don’t leave online reviews, you will never have to worry about not having enough reviews. 

“I don’t know how” – Provide instructions on how to leave a review using the platforms you have chosen.

“I don’t have time” – we are all busy. Please don’t be embarrassed to ask more than once, and at times when they probably are not engaged. 

“I forgot” – Remind them regularly. Emails and SMS messages are great for this. Typically people need to be asked 3 to 4 times before leaving a review online.

Final Thoughts

Five years ago, people would ask you for your references, and they don’t do that anymore because all of your references are online in the form of reviews. Don’t miss out on this high-octane lead generator.

If you would like to learn more about Review Lead Strategy and how it can work for your business, set up a quick 15-minute strategy call with us.

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