Have you ever been traveling away from home and tried to decide where you should stop to eat when you don’t know the area?
If you’re like me and my kids, the first thing you do is pull out your mobile phone and search for the kind of food or dining experience you’re looking for, such as “best breakfast restaurant” or “best Italian restaurant” or “best coffee shop” in whatever town or city you’re traveling through.
Likewise, if you’ve ever shopped for something online, chances are you read customer reviews about each product before deciding which product to buy and which company to buy from.
Whether you have a dog that needs grooming …
… or a toothache and need to find a good dentist,
... or a leaky faucet and need to find a trustworthy plumber,
… or a roof that needs repairing or replacing,
… or a tree that needs to be cut down ...
chances are that you will Google businesses in your area that offer the services you’re looking for, and then check out their online reviews to see if you can trust them to do quality work.
When was the last time you checked your business’ online reputation to see how it stacks up against the competition?
Just as we all should be getting twice-yearly dental checkups and annual physical checkups to maintain our good health, so too should business owners conduct regular “online reputation checkups” to see how their business is — or isn’t — showing up online, and how their online reputation compares with their top competitors in their local marketplace.
According to a recent study by Bright Local, “online reviews are … absolutely critical to making sales. They can quite literally make or break your business.”
The Bright Local study goes on to say: “Over half of consumers will only use a business if it has online reviews and a minimum of four stars awarded on those reviews. What’s more, almost 7 in 10 consumers are more likely to use a local business if they see positive reviews. If you’re not making online reviews a priority and a rival is, you’re automatically less likely to win that business.” Bright Local’s study found that:
- 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses (including 95% of people aged 18-34) before they make a purchasing decision
- Consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business
- 40% of consumers only take into account reviews written within the past 2 weeks – up from 18% last year
- 57% of consumers will only use a business if it has 4 or more stars * 80% of 18-34 year olds have written online reviews – compared to just 41% of consumers over 55
- 91% of 18-34 year old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- 89% of consumers read businesses' responses to reviews
Powerful Reasons to Prioritize Online Reviews for Your Business
1. Stand Out in Local Search Results and Improve Your SEO
It’s gotten harder and harder for businesses to rank on page 1 of search results since Google cut down the number of businesses it displays in the coveted local business “3-Pack” from 7 businesses to just 3 businesses. However, businesses with the most reviews tend to rank high in local search results — which helps more customers find them online and trust them based on the reviews they read.
2. Online Reviews Enhance Consumer Trust People do business with companies they trust. The quality and diversity of a business’ online reviews can be a deciding factor in whether a consumer buys from you — or someone else.
According to Bright Local: “For some demographics, online reviews are a prerequisite for trust. A study carried out in 2018 found that 8 in 10 millennials never buy a product or service without first reading online reviews. Three in 10 millennials will only buy from sites with trusted recommendations.” In fact, millennials report that they rely so heavily on online reviews that “they are less likely to seek a personal recommendation. While half will check online reviews, just 8% will ask friends and family members for their opinion before parting with their cash.”
3. Positive Reviews Bring More New Business
The BrightLocal Consumer Review survey also found that 57% of consumers will only use a business if it has a 4- or 5-star rating. Positive reviews make 68% of consumers more likely to use local businesses, again creating a direct link between reviews and sales.
A mere 15% of consumers responding to the survey reported that online reviews don’t impact their purchasing decisions.
Given the positive impact that online reviews can have on a business’ bottom line, it’s surprising how few businesses actually do prioritize customer reviews to ensure their success and profitability.
Are you managing your reputation?
This post was contributed by Yvonne Herbst, owner of Herbst Marketing. Visit her website to learn more about reputation management and why it's important for your business. Check out her current deal for Fauquier Chamber members here.