If you're serious about building your brand reputation online, we believe that a core component of your strategy needs to be 'gaining online customer reviews'.
The feedback customers leave online for your product, service, or business can drastically influence your bottom line! In fact, 72 percent of shoppers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from loved ones!
So, what people are saying about your business can help you make a meaningful impression on your customers. This week at Statusbrew, we stopped by to share some fresh perspectives and ideas on why online customer reviews are so crucial and significant, especially for your local business in 2019. If you missed this webinar, don't worry! You can now access the full webinar recording here.
Let's dive in to discover all of the remarkable insights that were shared during the webinar!
The changing landscape of online customer reviews
Over the last few years, there has been a dramatic shift in technology adoption, which has led to similar dramatic shifts in consumer behavior.
For instance, our dependence on Google has increased so immensely that whenever we need information, we go to Google. Similarly, when we want to make a purchase, we tend to end up on a Google search.
Earlier, we used to ask for recommendations for a new product or service from our friends or family, but the way we shop now has radically changed. We are looking to online reviews, which are a lot faster and more straightforward approach to weigh our options.
90% of shoppers read at least one online review before deciding to visit an online/physical store.
This means that whatever your industry is, having a positive online presence gives you several key advantages, which is why it is not only becoming a crucial part of branding but also playing a significant role in impacting the purchasing decisions of customers.
Why reviews are important for any local business?
1. Online reviews act as social proof
We are bound to purchase if others around us even if they are total strangers, agree that it is a purchase worth making. Customers are attracted to online review sites because it's an easily accessible source of credible information they can connect to on a personal level. Social conformity has always been the basic physic of humans; therefore, today, online reviews are the most significant source of social proof, and they have a positive impact on sales.
For example, City On Pedals has been able to drive 60% higher average bookings on the trip advisor website than its other sales channels, and it's likely that the five-star reviews that populate the site have helped a great deal.
2. Reviews increase brand visibility
A standout amongst the best strategies you can deploy to increase your brand visibility online is customer reviews.
Online customer reviews give you a constant inflow of (hopefully) positive content that search engines highly value when choosing which results to return. When you're ranked higher, algorithms and people alike tend to see your website as an expert or authority in your industry, which likewise prompts more exposure.
Related: Read how you can outsmart fake negative reviews on Google My Business.
3. They help in building trust
Reviews play a significant role in building substantial trust and credibility among customers through a steady stream of positive reviews; therefore, playing a crucial part in enhancing the company's online identity. It has been seen that many customers distrust businesses with ratings under 3 or 4 and companies with better average ratings are significantly more likely to see views subsequently being converted to traffic and eventually sales.
4. They expand your brand reach
Excellent reviews have a way of quickly spreading; they are your new word-of-mouth. Happy customers are likely to share their thoughts on as many places as possible, increasing your brand reach. Therefore, the more positive reviews you have, the better.
5. They influence the decision making
Online reviews not only grab the attention of the customer but also instigate an interest and desire within them to convince them to decide on a purchase. Hence reviews act as a primary lever while making a decision for a customer. Studies have shown that almost two-thirds of shoppers think that online reviews are an essential part of the decision-making process. For instance, when someone wants to know the best places to go, they're more likely to turn to Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor than they are to a newspaper or even their friends and family.
6. They have a direct correlation to revenue
There are a lot of studies that prove that empirically good reviews do lead to increased revenue. Some of these empirical proofs have demonstrated that clients spend up to 30% more at a business with excellent reviews while on an average a one-star increase in reviews leads to a 5–9% increase in revenue. Brands that are reviewed positively have better sales, but even improving your star rating can positively impact the top line of the brand.
7. Reviews give brands direct access to consumers
Online reviews are also essential today because they provide brands and businesses with direct access to customers. Brands can respond to the comments made by the customers and can engage in one-on-one interaction. This can also act as a forum to solve customer grievances, reinforce positive reviews, and thank the customers, which can go a long way in maintaining and solidifying the relationship with the customers. It is these interpersonal relationships only which help in building customer loyalty.
8. Reviews highlight the areas of improvement
It has additionally been discovered that unfortunately, customers with bad experiences with the business are more likely to leave reviews than customers with good experiences. These negative reviews too have their own benefits. Whenever any customer leaves a negative review, it gives an area of improvement for businesses to work on. Moreover, when a business reacts back to the negative review, it shows to the customer that they care and value their opinion. Additionally, while responding to the negative review, you are not just talking to one particular customer but also other potential customers.
Lastly, it can be said that the importance of reviews in this era of digital marketing cannot be underestimated. By encouraging positive conversations about our brand, we can quickly gain higher customer retention and better sales. Therefore, getting positive online reviews becomes quite critical for smaller, local businesses which may not have the brand recognition in comparison to more prominent, established brands.