If you search for company details or shop online, then you're likely aware of what online reviews are. It's consumer-generated content where customers share their experiences in receiving services or using products made by particular brands. This information may describe the pros and cons associated with products or the quality of customer service customers receive from staff. Online reviews can be shared on retailers' websites, social media pages (such as Facebook Reviews), Google Business Profile (Google Reviews), and third-party retailer or niche review sites and directories (Yelp Reviews is an example of this).
Many service providers or retailers witness firsthand how online reviews help their business increase leads and closing sales; however, that's not every company's experience. Customers' use and perceptions of online reviews affect their consumer behaviors -- sometimes to a company's detriment.
Below, we'll discuss how consumers post online reviews and rely on others' comments in making purchasing decisions. Managing your company's online reputation can prove challenging. If, after reading this information, you find yourself convinced of how online reviews help your business, our Mitro Digital Marketing team would be happy to discuss how we can help you manage your business's online reputation.
Do Consumers Trust Online Reviews Posted?
Nowadays, almost everybody you deal with as you go about your daily business is a critic and writes online reviews -- sometimes even while still onsite at your place of business. And the way matters work is that potential clients or customers often care more about what the critics have to say about your company and its products or services than what you have to say about them yourself. Thus, you can likely see how online reviews help your business and on the flip side of the coin, how they can hurt it if you're not soliciting reviews and managing your online reputation.
Consumer Use and Perceptions of Online Reviews
Data compiled from across the web by the Search Engine Journal (SEJ) suggest that consumers have the following impressions of online reviews:
- Some 60% of consumers pay close attention to the number of reviews a company has
- At least 99.9% of consumers read reviews when shopping online, with 96% specifically looking for negative reviews
- 80% or more of consumers use their phones while inside a physical store to look up product reviews before making a purchase
- An estimated 49% of consumers take their peers' reviews just as seriously as they would recommendations from close family or friends
These few data points capture just how important these reviews are to consumers and clients. If your company can build a stellar reputation online based on numerous glowing and good reviews from legitimate customers, it will seriously help you attract customers and generate conversions. On the other hand, if your company is the subject of many online complaints in the form of negative reviews, it will turn away customers.
No company can afford to ignore or neglect online reviews. Our Mitro Digital Marketing team, which has offices in Raleigh and the Outer Banks of North Carolina, can help you manage your online reputation. Give us a call to discuss your needs today.
Pros and Cons Associated With Online Reviews
As hinted at above, online reviews can make or break a business. So, let's deep-dive into the positives and negatives associated with reviews consumers leave digitally on online platforms:
How Online Reviews Positively Impact Businesses
Some benefits associated with online reviews include
- Builds credibility and trust: The data referenced above that SEJ shared suggests that consumers like to see more than 100 reviews, which include a combination of good customer reviews and poor reviews when searching for a product or service. The reason they have this expectation is because they believe this sample size of company reviews gives a broader perception of consumer sentiments (how customers feel) regarding the item or brand.
- Drive traffic to brands' websites: A positive review encourages consumers to do business with a company. The more evidence a consumer sees that an experience with a brand's product or service went well, the better the chances are that other consumers will feel more confident in also purchasing from or doing business with them.
- Assist consumers with purchasing decisions: The statistics from the SEJ site discussed above highlight how consumers carefully weigh the actual comment itself, but also the overall star count businesses have along with the quantity, recency of posts, and how many sites that feedback is posted on when deciding whether to make a purchase.
- Is good for search engine optimization (SEO): The SEO impact of local online reviews is noteworthy. Feedback like this has long been a ranking factor Google and other search engines rely on such as Bing and Yahoo, for ranking sites in search engines. Algorithms look at the quantity and sentiment of that feedback and rate a site accordingly on the search engine results page (SERP). The quantity matters, too, though. The more reviews you have, the more positively search engines view your site.
Downsides to Online Reviews
Online reviews can be both a blessing and a curse. While there are many benefits associated with this type of consumer feedback, as outlined above, they also pose many challenges, such as:
- The risk of receiving negative reviews: This is a danger associated with allowing customers to provide feedback; however, the SEJ statistics cited above outline how businesses who reply to negative comments can shift the customer's perspective to a more favorable one.
- Spam or fake reviews: There's always the risk of someone not actually familiar with your business or product who has ill intentions leaving negative feedback, putting your company's reputation at risk. However, it's important to note that most sites have a review process in place where they will consider removing adverse feedback under specific circumstances.
How Reviews Provide Valuable Insight To Fuel Your Company's Growth
One of the best ways to understand the role of customer reviews is to think of them as marketing and sales tools for your business. That feedback section, whether it consists of positive customer reviews or poor reviews, can provide a wealth of insight into:
- Potential keywords you should use to describe your product or service
- Aspects of the business you run well
- Areas for improvement
- Aspects of your operations your company should prioritize
Let's explore what some main takeaways are associated with positive and negative customer constructive feedback.
Using Positive Reviews and Negative Reviews Your Company Receives Constructively
One way to think of customer reviews is to view them as marketing and sales tools for your business. They're like an open line of communication with your customers.
A positive or a negative review provides a unique opportunity for you to learn from your customers in regard to what they like and perhaps don't like about the way you treat them or the products you sell. If you take time to read their feedback on your website, social platforms, and any other online review site where you're listed, you may gain some valuable feedback as to:
- Who your consumers are and what their interests are
- Operational inefficiencies you could improve upon to offer better customer satisfaction
- Ideas for new products or services that would attract new, potential customers
Online Reviews Best Practices You Need To Know and Employ
If you're looking to increase your brand awareness and the company's digital footprint, online reviews can help. As a North Carolina business owner, you should make a conscientious effort to collect reviews, meaning to actively request that customers leave them whether on your own website, Google Business Profile, or other review sites. You should additionally regularly scan review platforms to see what people are saying about your company and follow up on any less-than-stellar review ratings you receive on third-party sites (if possible). This combination strategy of soliciting reviews and responding to ones left on a review platform is an effective strategy for attracting new customers and potentially retaining your existing customer base.
Some other strategies to employ include:
- Featuring reviews on your website: This makes for a good selling point -- especially when they're left on product pages or in the reviews section of a website. Local businesses' consumers tend to view them as a personal recommendation.
- Identifying easier ways for your customers to leave reviews: We can help you deploy approaches that help you more efficiently solicit reviews, know when to respond to potential bad reviews, and populate any desired ones on your website, including from outside review pages.
- Encouraging customers to leave reviews on select sites: Online business reviews are more effective at attracting new business when you strategically encourage customers to leave them on specific online review sites (i.e. Yelp or Thumbtack)
Online Review Services We Offer at Mitro Digital Marketing
If you're like most businesses, your goal is for your online marketing efforts to have the best possible returns, whether that means achieving top ranking in search results, generating increased engagement on social media channels, such as among Facebook users, or obtaining great reviews among most consumers leaving reviews. In terms of the latter, our Mitro Digital Marketing team knows how online reviews can help your business attract more customers and aid them in the decision-making process as they decide whether to buy your product or solicit your services.
Consumers often view online reviews as personal recommendations. Many consumers additionally like seeing social proof, which essentially means that they are motivated by seeing that others are happy customers and want to make a purchase to be the same. While positive online reviews matter to your business, so too does how you respond to negative ones. Consumers appreciate when brands engage with customer feedback and receive a personalized response when they leave a bad review, as this shows businesses care.
Mitro Digital Marketing has developed a top-notch online reputation marketing strategy to help build a 5-star rated business. We can counsel you on how to increase customer reviews and also deploy strategies that increase the collection of reviews. We can also deploy strategies that highlight positive reviews. Additionally, we have a system in place to deal with situations where consumers leave reviews that are bad that help improve your product and customer service. The use of social and review monitoring tools can help with this.
You don’t know where to go if you don’t know where you stand. Let our digital marketing team help you understand the SEO impact local business reviews can have on your brand's success. We can assist your company in building a 5-star rated operation so that you can grow your business's revenue. So, give our North Carolina digital marketing professionals a call or send us an email today so we can get to work on building your online reputation and improving the optics surrounding it with the goal of improving brand awareness and sales conversions.