From mobile phones to vet services, online reviews are an ever-common part of consumers’ purchasing decisions. In fact, studies show that 90% of consumers read online reviews before making new purchases. Moreover, more than two-thirds of these readers consider these reviews “generally accurate.”
The bitter truth is that you can’t please everyone. Even The Great Wall of China couldn’t escape the scorn of people on the internet. One of the most astounding achievements in history has over 9,000 Google reviews (with its fair share of negative reviews), and an average rating of 4.2 stars.
The problem is, information today spreads faster than ever. And in this era of mass digital media where giving a referral is as easy as posting a social media link, negative reviews have the power to make or break a company.
There are several reasons why people post negative comments online. Occasionally, competitors post fake negative reviews to drive away customers of other businesses. Other times, customers who had a difficult interaction with your business decide to publicly shame you online.
In any case, these reviews can seriously impact your business’s bottom line. According to a Harvard study, every star improvement to a Yelp score indicates a 5% to 9% increase in revenue.
Do Online Reviews Matter?
Absolutely. Here are all the reasons why you can’t ignore the negative (and positive) reviews posted about your company:
Online Reviews Dominate Purchasing Decisions
Potential consumers deem negative reviews more valuable because they highlight defects—even if they aren’t actually accurate. Studies have shown that people use reviews to contemplate associated risk and reduce losses.
Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that online reviews have a direct impact on sales and are the biggest source of social proof in the online arena.
An example of this is the case study of Seriously Silly Socks where the owner of the company was able to drive 60% higher order value thanks to 3000 five-star reviews that populated the store’s product pages. The owner claimed that customer feedback created “social proof,” which drove other consumers to buy their products.
As part of an online reputation management strategy, he even encouraged reviews from customers by offering them discount coupons in exchange of reviews.
Online Reviews Boost Your Brand’s Visibility on Search Engines
Did you know that search engines use online reviews as a ranking factor for your website? This is because consumers love referring to online reviews, and Google places trust on your consumers, not your business.
Google uses online reviews to gauge whether your brand meets customers’ requirements. A large collection of good reviews signal Google that your business provides positive interactions to consumers.
This raises your website to the top in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Consequently, consumers see your website as an authority in the industry, which leads to more exposure.
They Build Your Brand’s Trust and Credibility
Establishing a brand is all about trust and online reviews aregreat tools that your business can use to build its trust scores. A steady stream of positive reviews not only drives sales but it practically builds your business’s online identity.
Additionally, people naturally gravitate to services and products that are extensively reviewed, compared to ones that aren’t. This trust symbolism becomes visual in the form of star ratings. Businesses with better average rating are likely to experience higher converted traffic and sales.
They Start Up a Conversation about Your Brand
Word-of-mouth marketing is a big force behind commerce, and this phenomenon takes the form of online reviews in the digital dimension.
Positive (and really negative) reviews have a way of spreading quickly. One of the easiest and most effective ways of expanding your brand’s reach is by encouraging customers to review your company.
In fact, as a part of their business strategy, most store owners publish these reviews all over their social media accounts to improve their organic search traffic.
An Open Line to Create a Consumer Voice
Apart from simply posting reviews, customers expect businesses to respond to their complaints and take corrective measures.
Online reviews give you the opportunity to establish a relationship with your consumer, and reinforce promotions and positive reviews. Most importantly, they give your business the opportunity to quickly address negative reviews and show that the brand cares about their consumer experiences.
According to case study, a medical company, MedQuest, significantly improved its review rating on Facebook and Google by responding to both positive and negative responses.
Personalized responses and immediacy of online reviews also give your brand a face. An open-to-feedback and friendly attitude towards online reviews can do wonders for your business.
What Can You Do To Rectify Your Online Reputation?
The best way to get on top of what people are saying about you is to adopt an online reputation management services or ORM. Although the concept is simple, the work involved takes effort and time.
What is Business Reputation Management?
It’s the process of monitoring and managing your brand’s online presence. A good ORM strategy protects your brand and helps people find the right information when they look up your business on the internet. Its purpose is to help you combat negative PR and provide insights.
Let’s look at how a comprehensive reputation management strategy offers damage control and gives brands the ability to turn a negative review into an opportunity to improve the brand’s reputation.
Get On Social Media
Social media tactics can’t be treated as an afterthought when it comes to controlling and monitoring your customers’ experience.
While an inactive platform that doesn’t have anything to show is a cause for concern, a well managed social media profile showcases the best that your company has to offer.
Make sure you highlight your brand’s personality, company’s culture and upload valuable industry news periodically.
Local Review Sites: A Window of Opportunity
Research shows that simply the act of creating a Yelp listing can garner your business nearly $8,000 per year. Make accounts on local review sites like Yelp, FourSquare, TripAdvisor and Google My Business and get on top of all the reviews that are published about your company.
Address customer concerns
Studies show that 89% consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews and then make a purchasing decision. So, if you do come across a negative review, a polite and quick reply is your best tool along with an empathetic statement that acknowledges the consumers’ concerns and issues.
Publish Valuable Content
When consumers were asked why they opted for a certain vendor, 75% claimed that the vendor’s valuable content impacted their buying decision. Companies that don’t have a strong digital content strategy alongside their ORM tactics risk losing a considerable percentage of buyers.
The aim when producing digital content is to address the potential customers’ pain points and publish blog posts and case studies that are relevant and valuable. You can even take advantage of a multi-channel strategy that uses different media formats to expand your brand’s reach.
The cost of poor online reputation is immeasurable. A handful of negative comments can tear down the business that you spent a lot of time establishing. While you can’t control the message of every online review, you can proactively monitor them and address them as quickly as possible.
Remember, your web presence has the power to attract new customers, retain old ones and drive leads. Don’t leave this opportunity up to chance and start building an online reputation management strategy now.