Online review sites can make or break your small business’s online reputation. Customers regularly visit business rating websites to review a business that they had either a very positive (or negative) experience with.
Nobody would pay attention to customer business reviews if they weren’t such an influential factor in a customer’s journey; however, the reality is that 88% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations — making it absolutely essential that your small business has a strong presence on these business review sites.
The importance of online review sites
Websites’ that provide customers with reviews of businesses are assets that any type of local business can use — whether you are a quick-service restaurant that is part of a national franchise, a single location fashion boutique or a sole-proprietor who provides services to clients.
ShareThis CEO Kurt Abrahamson told The Atlantic, “Recommendations have more of an impact than brand or price… our research found that highly positive online shares can generate an almost 10% increase in purchase intent, and negative reviews can also have a correspondingly negative impact, reducing purchase intent by]= 11%.”
Luckily, creating a positive online reputation for your small business is within your control — all you need are a few simple guidelines and formulas. This article will provide you with all the information you need, including the best review sites, to ensure your reputation on business review websites is one that brings new customers through your doors.
Digital word-of-mouth marketing
Online ratings and reviews are the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth marketing, everyone’s favorite type of viral marketing (that is, if it’s a recommendation). Word-of-mouth marketing is when someone who isn’t solicited talks about a business (either in a positive or negative manner) to family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, etc. Both online ratings and reviews and word-of-mouth marketing are free, which is a contributing factor to its popularity as a promotion vehicle.
While the low price tag is most certainly a pro, the primary reason that local business review sites are popular is because of the authority they yield. Research shows that people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and that it directly influences their purchase decisions. In fact, shoppers read an average of 10 reviews before making a purchase, demonstrating how powerful reviews on websites can be for businesses.
Receive customer feedback (for free!)
Large enterprise companies pay top dollar to conduct focus groups to get customer feedback; local business review sites give you that feedback for free.
One of the best things you can do with the feedback you get from review sites for businesses is to incorporate it into your business strategy to ensure you are providing products and services that continue to be popular with your customers. While not every online rating or review will give you information that can help you grow, you should, at the very least, take the time to respond to the reviewer and thank him/her for sharing their thoughts.
Reach shoppers with a high purchase intent
Online reviews are a great way to reach customers when they are researching for products and services — and getting ready to make a purchase.
Remember, shoppers read an average of 10 reviews before making a decision, so you should try to have 10-15 current reviews up on the three major review sites (Facebook, Google and Yelp) at all times.
Increase your search engine page rank
Online reviews can also help you boost your small business’s SEO. To see a bump in your page rank, you should strategically integrate keywords related to your small business into your online review profiles. Not only will this keyword strategy increase your likelihood that your business listing will show up in the review site list of businesses when a shopper conducts a search, your profile will also be picked up by search engines — like Google, Yahoo and Bing.
A lot of businesses avoid managing their online reputation because they worry that Internet trolls will visit their page and bad-mouth their business, which is simply not true! 75% of reviews are positive. And even if you do get a few bad eggs, if you actively respond to the review, you have a 33% chance that the negative review will turn positive.
If the reviewer doesn’t want to revise their post, don’t stress — you responded and that shows potential customers that you value your customers.
As online reviews increase in popularity, the more important it becomes for your local business to have an online review strategy so you can manage your online reputation. Even before they make contact with you, potential customers know a thing or two about your business because they searched for your business online. If you aren’t monitoring online review websites, you can’t be 100% sure what is being said about your business online.
Whether you are too busy or simply not interested in logging into multiple review sites on a regular basis to monitor, your business’s reputation is too important not to monitor. Vivial provides thousands of small businesses with reputation management and monitoring solutions that give you all online activities, ratings and reviews associated with your business and brand in one easy-to-use tool. You can even set up email alerts to be pushed to you automatically when new online chatter about your business is detected.