How Online Reviews Can Make or Break Your Business
Written by: Advantage IM
September 24, 2019
Never has there been a time when your business’s online reviews have been more important than today. When consumers search on Google for local services or products, they’re shown business profiles and customer ratings almost immediately. Yelp is another popular resource consumers flock to in order to see customer reviews of businesses in their area. A business can do a lot to build up their reputation online, but one thing consumers never stop trusting when they’re looking for the best company to suit their needs is word of mouth.
Why Your Online Reviews Matter
Most internet users are performing Google searches from their mobile phones. The search engine now presents a map (based on the user’s location) and local business listings above organic search results on mobile browsers. What does this mean? If a potential customer performs a Google search for the product or service your business offers, even if you are at the top of the organic search results list, the user may never even make it to your website. It’s a lot more likely that they’ll stop at one of the business listings that are given to them at the top of the page.
What you don’t see in the screencap above is the organic search results. If your business has little or no online reviews and isn’t implementing efficient digital marketing strategies, your website is likely way down in the organic results list. Internet users must scroll to view those organic results and most of us like saving as much time as possible when it comes to searching the web. Keeping this in mind, how many users would you guess even scroll past the initial map and business listings? Less than you’d think! As the user reviews the top listings, they’re focusing on two things (outlined in blue above):
- The number of stars the business has (5/5 being the highest rating possible).
- The quantity of reviews the business has (the more the better!).
It goes without saying that your average user will first choose the business with the highest star-rating and the highest quantity of reviews. They will likely browse through the business’s reviews and use the information they find there to decide whether or not they will hire the company.
What can you take from this? Both the quality and quantity of your online reviews matter, as they work together in portraying your business as credible and desirable to work with. If a business has a 5-star rating on Google but only has one customer review, a user will likely opt for the business with a 4-star rating with 20 customer reviews. Because of this, your goal as a growing business should be to increase both the quality and quantity of your online customer reviews simultaneously.
Customers’ Eagerness to Share
With internet technology consistently getting better and better, people are getting more eager to share their best and worst personal experiences online. This can be great for companies with outstanding customer service who are just as friendly and helpful online as they are in person. However, if a customer has a bad experience with you, it can easily damage your reputation as a local business.
When you’re shopping around for a local product or service yourself, are you more likely to take it from the business themselves that they are your best resource for what you’re looking for? Many of us trust other consumers and their personal experiences over anything else when choosing which companies to give our business.
How to Gain Positive Online Reviews
The first step in getting positive feedback online is, of course, providing your customers with the very best experience possible. If you believe you’re doing everything right but you’re still not seeing a steady inbound flow of good reviews, you may have to be active in giving your customers enthusiasm to provide their feedback.
This might sound difficult to achieve because it’s neither ethical nor lawful to trade paid incentives for positive testimonials from customers on websites like Google and Yelp. However, there are a few ways you can encourage your customers to share their positive experiences with you online:
- Send out follow-up emails to customers who have purchased from you or utilized your services with a friendly message:
- Make social media posts asking customers what they like best about your business. Interact with customers that respond and encourage them to leave a review on Facebook so that others can learn about their positive experiences with your company.
- Create small cards to include with every customer’s purchase that tells them your business appreciates their feedback and where they can leave a review.
How to Handle Bad Reviews
Although positive reviews can go a long way online and help you build a solid and attractive reputation, consumers are also eager to share their negative experiences with companies online. The latter can become a real problem for you if you don’t know how to properly handle or respond to customers that write unpleasant reviews that cast your business in a bad light. Hiring a digital marketing agency that is experienced with review management is a great way to ensure the right steps are being taken to get you the best online reputation possible.
Here at Advantage Internet Marketing, we specialize in helping achieve positive growth, and we understand your need to be recognizable and credible online. Positive reviews are one of the best assets to have as a small business, and negative ones can hurt your reputation significantly.
Luckily, we’re here to help you.