These days, it’s clear that people go online first for information – especially if they’re looking for a new product, provider, or service. As a result, online review sites are more popular than ever.
Studies have even shown that 91% of North American consumers read online reviews to learn about a business. (Bright Local, 2017)
To cater to the needs of consumers, more and more online review websites are surfacing. Some are more specialized, choosing to focus on specific industries that have an additional demand for consumer-facing information. These websites have risen in importance and now often appear on the first page of search results when someone is researching by searching for terms like “Doctors Near Me” or even specific queries like “Nancy’s Thrift Store, Alberta, GA.”
Before someone checks out a company’s website, chances are they’ll encounter online reviews first
The current trend of increasing review website visibility, and with Google also showcasing their reviews from users front-and-center on result pages means that businesses must prioritize online review management if they want to manage their brand image properly. What is being posted publicly about an organization is at the core of shaping their brand image.
It’s one thing for us to say “managing your online reviews is crucial,” but there’s so much more weight in this next stat than any statement we could make to business owners:
In a study done by the Harvard Business School, they found that a one-star rating increase on Yelp generates a 5-9% increase in revenue.
User-generated content is widely trusted than any investment in internal marketing or branding that a business can make. This doesn’t mean that you should toss your marketing strategy into the trash. Instead, online review management should be a more significant part of your brand’s strategy to maintain your status as a customer-centric, trustworthy business.
Using online reviews to ensure that the offline realities of your business (like your excellent customer service, gorgeous interior, great products, and long-lasting solutions) are reflected online (across all of the important review sites) will help you:
Step ahead of your local competition, whose reviews and ratings may not be managed appropriately.
Today, most first impressions – like it or not – start online. During online searches, potential customers see an awful lot of information about the reputation of a business in the form of various ratings and reviews on display.
Potential customers who have found your business through research can only go off of what’s in front of them. It’s not like a shop in the mall, where someone could randomly drop in, be impressed by a friendly greeting, or pulled in by the charming decor.
Today, chances are websites like Google, Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor, Healthgrades, and dozens of others are displaying ratings and reviews about your business to potential new customers.
This makes your business’s online reputation a deciding factor in whether or not a potential customer is going to choose you. When you properly manage your online reviews, you make sure that they’re not turning away potential customers; you’re making sure they’re bringing more in!
Overall, online reviews have grown in importance and authority – and no studies have pointed to this trend slowing down or stopping.
Instead, you should expect websites to pop up more and more as demand increases. These sites will be more aggressive in getting more reviews to the profiles.
Since this trend will continue, business owners should actively work on their online reviews and think critically about how to work the required management processes into regular business operations.
Now is the time to take control before the competition gets worse and review sites go to more extreme levels to increase their volumes and get more people to leave reviews for businesses.