In today’s digital age, online reviews have significantly replaced the word-of-mouth method that was once enough to gain customers. With advances of the Web and technology, customers have access to a seemingly endless amount of companies that offer countless products and services. Online reviews are what help potential customers navigate this sea of products to determine what they want to buy.
How Online Reviews Impact Your Business
So how important are online reviews to your potential customers? Very important! According to a 2013 Dimensional Research survey, a whopping 88% of respondents said that their buying decisions were influenced by online reviews. In a 2013 Local Consumer Review survey conducted by BrightLocal, 73% of respondents reported that positive customer reviews increased their trust of a company and 67% of respondents reported reading six online reviews or less before making a decision about a business- that’s quick!
Reviews don’t only impact customer purchasing decisions-- they can also impact your company’s rankings in search engines and which search results get clicked on. Customers use search engines to find specific information as quickly as possible, and the faster and more effectively search engines can do this, the better. The quantity and frequency of online reviews contribute to whether your company shows up in these searches, which in turn affects your web traffic. If your business isn’t showing up in top searches, potential customers aren’t finding the amazing products or services you’re offering.
How Companies Underestimate the Importance of Online Reviews
Despite how important online reviews are, not every company realizes the significance reviews have on its business. According to Yodle’s Small Business and Online Reviews Survey in 2014, 55% of small business owners reported not receiving online reviews at all and, even more surprising, only 50% thought that online reviews were actually important for their small business.
For those companies who do receive online reviews, not all of them post their reviews to their websites. Only 14% of respondents with company websites reported posting these reviews to their websites—that’s a scary 86% of companies missing out on potential customers and feedback.
Making the Most of Online Reviews
So, how do you avoid these mistakes and make the most of online reviews?
- Receive/ask for reviews - The first step is creating an opportunity for customers to voice their opinions. Whatever the product you’re selling, existing customers want to tell others what they think about it, and potential customers want to know what others think before spending their money.
- Post reviews - If you have it, use it! Leverage reviews by posting them to your website. Existing customers don’t want to waste their time writing reviews that never get seen. Posting will also help your online marketing and SEO strategies by increasing your company’s online visibility and web traffic.
- Monitor and respond to reviews – This is a perfect opportunity to engage with customers. Not only do reviews influence customer decisions, they also reveal how involved the company is with their customers. Regularly respond to customer concerns and show appreciation for their business.
- Use your reviews – Remember, reviews are a valuable source of information. Read your reviews for feedback on what you’re doing right and what can be done differently to make your customers happy. Use this feedback to improve your company and gain more happy customers!
Want to read or write reviews? In addition to company websites, reviews can be written through resources such as TeenLife, Yelp, and Glassdoor that provide comprehensive assessments of different companies, services, and products.