Customers make the world of commerce go round. As much as possible, you want the happiest, most satisfied customers you can get. While it’s true that you can’t please everybody all of the time–and that you shouldn’t try–you still need to demonstrate that you’re putting in the effort to do so. This is where online reviews come in. A fledgling business can be made or broken by online reviews, and a more established business might notice a loss of revenue if they start to pick up a string of poor reviews.
Regardless of the type of business you own, an online business or a brick and mortar shop, reviews are a big part of making that business a success. Whether people are searching for a doctor, a lawyer, or purchasing a recliner for their living room, nine times out of ten, they’re heading to the internet to look at online reviews before they make a final decision as to who they’re going to see or make their purchase from.
That’s why it’s so important for your small business to not only encourage customers to leave reviews for your products and services but to make sure that you manage those online reviews as well. Active engagement, as a business owner, with your online reviewers, is a good policy–whether they’re 5-star reviews, 1-star reviews, or anything in between. The good people at SignPost.com can help get new Google reviews and manage them as well. Read on below for all the reasons that your small business needs to manage its online reviews and why they are important to your business as well.
1. Reviews Increase Sales
Increasing sales is what puts money in the bank for your business, so why wouldn’t you want customers to leave reviews since reviews could possibly increase your sales. The internet is readily available for anyone to use, so people flock to it to see if they should buy the latest thing or even if they should buy from a certain brand.
There are spots called touchpoints in sales, which is when a customer is on the verge of a purchase but not sure if they should follow through or not. A string of positive reviews on your site can often be the tipping point when it comes to a consumer decision. That’s also why it’s so important to manage your reviews and answer any negative ones quickly and efficiently as well, as it will also help to increase your customer base.
2. Reviews Build Credibility
Aside from having good sales, a business needs to build its credibility as well. Your business’s credibility is as important as building your brand is. It is estimated that 84% of customers trust an online review as much as they trust a personal recommendation for a product. Even if you get a lot of customers in your first days in business, you need to keep those customers by establishing credibility. Online reviews can give you credibility if you stay on top of them.
3. Reviews Drive Traffic
Reviews are good for driving traffic to your website as well. If someone is reading a review of your product, the next logical step is to go where they can buy that product. That place would be your website, making it a win-win for you and the customer.
Reviews actually drive two separate kinds of traffic. The first is physical traffic. These come from customers who saw online reviews of your place of business and decided to come to check you out for themselves. The second type of traffic online reviews drive is online traffic. A customer might read online reviews on a website other than yours; as a result, they may actively search for your website to learn more about you and your products or services. Or, they may have been doing a Google search for a specific type of product or service. If you have a high number of positive online reviews, it can potentially help your website rank higher in the search engines–which we’ll cover more in the next section.
Studies show that 91% of consumers at least occasionally read online reviews. That is a large percentage of your potential marketplace.
4. Reviews Improve SEO
As a small business owner, you should already know what SEO (search engine optimization) is, and if you don’t, you need to. Believe it or not, positive customer reviews can help you improve your business’s SEO. Your brand will be mentioned quite a bit in reviews, and that helps you get to the top of the organic search engines. You want to keep an eye on your reviews, however, to make sure and address anything that’s negative about your brand. You don’t want a bunch of negative reviews at the top of the search engines.
These are just a few of the reasons why you need online reviews to help grow your small business. Remember, positive reviews help you, and negative reviews can as well, as long as you keep on top of them and make things right.
How to Respond to Negative Reviews
There is no one right way to respond to negative reviews. In the early days of Yelp, some small business owners struck back at online reviewers who came across as having extremely unfair expectations. This may have hurt those business owners in the eyes of some customers, but it made them look like heroes in the eyes of others. Remember elite Yelpers? That was an era in the history of online reviews that will hopefully not be repeated.
But those were the early days, and now that a higher percentage of the population consults online reviews before making a purchase, it seems to work better for business owners to attempt to make a positive connection with dissatisfied customers, no matter how unreasonable they seem. As potential customers are scrolling through your online reviews, if they see a disgruntled customer venting about their experience, it looks better if the business owner has reached out with a sincere-sounding apology and an offer to make things right.