How important are online reviews to your business? Extremely. Your customers are your most important source of feedback, and their ratings and reviews impact how other consumers make decisions about your business every single day.
Paying attention to what people are saying about your business and being responsive to that feedback is essential - this is a core tenet of successful businesses that has never changed. What has changed in just a few short decades is the emergence and firm establishment of the internet as our highly visible and highly accessible virtual community. In order to remain competitive, businesses must adapt, and integrate themselves into online communities along with their real-world community.
Let’s take a look at some statistics on consumer review habits last year:
86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses (including 95% of people aged 18-34).
Consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business - up from an average of 7 reviews in 2017
40% of consumers only take into account reviews written within the past 2 weeks – up from 18% in 2017
57% of consumers will only use a business if it has 4 or more stars - up from 49% in 2017
80% of 18-34 year olds have written online reviews – compared to just 41% of consumers over 55.
91% of 18-34 year old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
89% of consumers read businesses' responses to reviews
What does this mean for your business? More than ever, your current and prospective customers are seeking and actively participating in online reviews to decide whether or not to spend their money at local businesses. Many consumers are adept at “shopping around” for businesses that have high quantity and quality of online reviews, and are becoming practiced at paying attention to recent reviews in order to adjudge a business’ current perceived performance. The majority of consumers trust the veracity of the reviews they read, are leaving their own feedback, and they are paying attention to how you respond.
Online reviews are a major driver of local commerce today, and positive reviews are essentially free advertising for your business. The good things people say and post about your business on public platforms increases your brand reputation, trustworthiness and visibility. Customer posted content like photos and short videos give other consumers an instant visual snapshot of your company’s appearance, culture and more. Conversely (and obviously), negative reviews and media content hurt your business’ reputation and credibility. It is important to respond to both positive and negative reviews so consumers know that you are actively invested in their perceptions and feedback about your company.
Human beings and search algorithms alike find reviews attractive and meaningful. Search engines prioritize businesses with high quantity and quality content, and that includes the (hopefully) positive and informative reviews people are leaving about your business, as well as high star ratings. What this means is that good reviews increase your SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which increases your ranking in search results - meaning greater visibility and exposure.
The big 3 review sites are currently Google, Facebook and Yelp, but there’s no shortage of places where consumers can leave you feedback online. An effective review response strategy enables you to engage productively with your customers -- it provides you with additional insights and improves the experience your customers have with your brand, all while increasing your reputation and exposure. Monitoring and responding to all your reviews can be time consuming and stressful, so if you cannot spare the time and energy to dedicate to online reviews, it’s a good idea to turn to a professional review manager in order to stay competitive and current.
Online reviews are an essential source of customer feedback that can, when managed properly, improve consumer experiences along with your company’s reputation and trustworthiness, increase your online ranking and visibility, and drive new consumer opportunities and revenue.
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