Local businesses need lots of positive customer ratings and reviews to keep the business running smoothly. This is because many potential customers are doing their research online to find out what previous customers are saying before deciding to spend any money. They’re looking at reviews on company websites, on social media platforms, on blogs and on customer review sites like Google, Yelp and TripAdvisor as well as any other sites or forums they can find online. This is why customer reviews are the most effective form of advertisements for any business.
In this article, you’ll learn why you should be leveraging ratings and review sites to generate qualified leads for your business.
What Are Customer Reviews?
A customer review (also known as an online review, customer testimonial or feedback) is a short summary of a particular customer’s experience with a business. It is a permanent piece of user generated content posted by customers on anything from food and clothing to carpet cleaning and dry cleaning. If it is posted on popular review sites, it is likely to be found by anyone online and reach a far wide audience. Every customer has an opinion, and with social media, they have the opportunity to share those reviews with their network in an instant.
Reviews are generally recognized as a major asset for online businesses because of the fact that they can influence buying decisions. They are powerful social proof and impact local search. They also play a major role in the development of a business’s online reputation. They are often the direct cause of a company’s online reputation management issues online because a series of negative reviews in certain circumstances is sufficient to deter customers from doing business with a particular business. This is why reviews are so powerful. Consumers are more likely to take the word of previous customers who have done business with you over your own.
Back in the day before the exponential rise in ratings and reviews, customer feedback was mostly a one-on-one affair. If customers weren’t happy with the service they received from your place of business, they communicated with you directly, providing the opportunity for you to respond immediately. Today, with the rise of online review sites, customers are leaving their reviews on highly visible platforms and are allowed to say anything they like about your products or services no matter how harsh, unfair or harmful they might be. Business owners are often left feeling quite frustrated and powerless to do anything about these reviews.
Rating and Review Sites
Many business owners don’t realize the influence and power of customer-driven rating and review sites until they discover a devastating review that may have been posted by a disgruntled, vengeful customer on one of these sites. To put things into perspective, more than 130 million visitors visit Yelp each month, and prospective buyers are making purchase decisions based on what they read on these sites.
Rating and review sites add a completely different challenge that directly affects your online and offline reputation and brand, and they cannot be ignored. They play a vital role to the success of your online business. Studies from both Havard University and the University of California, Berkeley have found a direct link between star ratings and revenue. For most companies a minor one-star boost can result in a 10 percent increase in business. It is even more dramatic for restaurants, where an uptick from 3 and a half to 4 stars can lead to a 19% increase in bookings.
Even if you master every other single aspect of your business, if you ignore rating and review sites, you’ll be decreasing your chances of staying competitive. This is because they are often the first point of contact that potential customers use as their primary resource for guidance, advice and recommendations about any business. In most cases, whether they click through to your business will depend on what they are able to read about your business on these sites.
Furthermore, reviews posted on popular ratings and review sites are quickly indexed by the search engines and often appear on the first page of the search results pages. This is because they are always loaded with fresh content, which the search engines love. Today, if you search for something like “best seo company in London”, you’re likely to come across a review and rating site within the first few search results. So when a user is researching your business online using your business name, chances are they are highly likely to come across these reviews online.
This means that potential customers’ perception of you is being shaped by what these consumers are reading on these review sites.
Taking Advantage of Online Ratings and Reviews
It is important to understand how to effectively manage your online ratings and reviews using legitimate strategies. One of the biggest mistakes some business owners make is in hiring unscrupulous online reputation management firms to deal with their online reputation management issues. This is often not the best strategy because what most of these firms do is to create lots of fake reviews to drown out the genuine reviews. This is a dangerous strategy that can easily backfire and permanently damage your online reputation.