Looking for something that offers your business a source of accountability and assists the growth process? Online reviews and ratings are major factors that influence online shoppers and shape the way they interact with businesses. Reviews posted on sites like Google allow customers to compare products and services based on other people’s experiences. More than 50% of consumers often or always read online reviews and 97% read online reviews for local businesses. The content in online reviews can be the difference between the success and failure of a small business. 62.7% of consumers believe online reviews are important or very important when choosing a local business. Having no reviews can have a negative impact as that lowers credibility and consumer confidence. Today’s digital word-of-mouth, online reviews are a necessary component for your organization.
Feature both positive and negative reviews prominently on your website. While uncomfortable to show less than perfect assessments of your business, transparency is important. Also include client testimonials but not on a separate page. Integrate reviews and testimonials into the home page and other pages so they are available to consumers throughout their time on your website. A regular stream of reviews is better than many at once. It is recommended that businesses NOT offer incentives for customers to write reviews and certainly never buy fake reviews. A much better practice is to gently remind consumers they have the opportunity to post a review to share their experience using your services or products.
Not sure where you should have reviews? A good place to start is to understand where your competitors are reviewed. Google has become the ultimate place for customer commentary but there are other sites like Yelp, Angie’s List and TripAdvisor depending on your industry and offerings. Your business website is another place you should have review options for consumers. Ensure the review process is easy – provide directions or a guide and have a visible call-to-action button on your website. You may also provide in emails an easy link to the review opportunity on your website. And don’t forget to use your social media channels to encourage business review options.
Well-crafted review forms provide you with customer contact information and testimonials to be used within your marketing efforts. However, be sure to not share any personal or private information as you mine that material to use elsewhere. Consider reviews as a customer engagement strategy. The words of your current clients can be used to impress potential customers and create connections that promote customer loyalty.
These voluntarily created, consumer-generated appraisals of services, products and businesses have proven to shape customer behavior. 68% of millennials trust online reviews and 88% of all consumers consider reviews when making a purchase or engaging a service. 59% of consumers will abandon a business with three negative reviews and 4 or more can cause the loss of up to 70% of consumers.
The review process helps you build a relationship with your clients and allows you to improve the customer experience. It is important to respond to all reviews as consumers judge businesses based on whether or not they acknowledge and/or respond to customer feedback. In fact, consumers expect brands to respond to reviews with 53% of people expecting a response within one week of their posting.
A critical part of managing your online presence is monitoring your online reviews. Be grateful for positive reviews and thank reviewers for their feedback, time and energy. Don’t copy and paste generic messages - show that you value customers’ input by crafting original responses to each review. Invite customers to contact you directly with any concerns in hopes of avoiding being the recipient of a negative review but know those will occur.
When your business receives a negative review, don’t respond immediately. Take some time to investigate the situation and write a sincere apology for a poor experience. Negative reviews are an opportunity to reach out to the customer, take responsibility for the situation, implement changes, and then communicate those changes back to the consumer. By providing a timely, sincere, and helpful response to a negative review, you may inspire the client to consider updating the original review or even crafting a new one.
More reviews and especially more positive reviews increase your website SEO. For a local search, Google will return the top 3 businesses based on ratings and reviews. While reviews may be uncomfortable from time to time, they make it easier for customers to find you online. Greater online visibility will result in greater traffic to your website and ultimately yield more conversions.
Positive reviews are directly correlated with an increase in sales. They can increase sales by 18% and have the potential to increase overall spending by 31% or more. Positive reviews help generate leads. 72% of consumers say positive online reviews make them more likely to use or buy from a business and often help win a tiebreaker between one business or another. Also know that star ratings do matter. In fact, 80% of consumers said they will only consider businesses with a star rating of 4.0 or higher.
Online reviews are a powerful tool for sharing information. On the downside, reviews tend to over-represent extreme views and are highly polarized. Just remember that frustration leads to negative reviews so being proactive in how you deliver your products and services will be well worth the effort on the front end. For the first time, consumers, not marketers, are responsible for shaping public perception of your brand. Thus, social validation is a necessary component for the success of any business. Monitoring and responding to online reviews are indispensable practices to maintaining a positive reputation. Embrace the review process to build your reputation, increase traffic to your website and business, and build confidence in your brand.
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