Online Reviews: What Are They Really Worth?
Picture this: You’re researching contractors online, you found two or three promising leads in your area (thanks, SEO!), and they’re all similarly priced. How do you decide which one to call? You, like the majority of your peers, read the online reviews.
In our capacity as B2B business owners, we sometimes forget that customers do the same thing before they decide to buy from us. A single negative review can turn away more than 20 percent of potential customers or clients. If you don’t have any reviews at all, customers will be much more likely to buy from another, perceived equal competitor with at least a few above average ratings.
Choosing to ignore the impact of online reviews is choosing to ignore an entire source of revenue. Let’s dig in to find out the impact of online reviews.
Consider that in business, perception is reality. You don’t control the
perception of your business; your customers do. Online reviews have
more influence on your company’s brand and reputation than any
marketing materials or advertising you produce.
Google+, Facebook, and Yelp are the three most popular sites for online research. Most consumers look for companies’ social media pages and online reviews before deciding whether to buy. Yet, less than 40 percent of local businesses invest in social media and online review management. So if you’re not maintaining an active presence on these networks, you’re not reaching potential customers or setting yourself apart from competitors.
Despite the popularity of the above sites, your business may also have a presence on TripAdvisor, Urban Spoon, Home Advisor, and industry-specific sites. Regardless of the platform, the power of online reviews extends far beyond the computer or phone screen.
The Value of Online Reviews
Reviews offer insight into what it’s like doing business and interacting with your company. Often, they point out values and benefits of products or services that you wouldn’t have noticed on your own. Plus, reviews are more trusted than a company’s own promotions; in fact, most people trust reviews just as much as in-person referrals.
All businesses (especially local ones) can benefit from online reviews. These are just a few of the reasons why reviews are powerful for a company’s brand and reputation:
90 percent of customers read online reviews
Another 90 percent of customers said that positive reviews influenced their decision to buy
70 percent would trust a local business more if it had positive reviews
85 percent would be more likely to buy from a company if they found trustworthy reviews
Search rankings improve, and online reviews make up about ten percent of how Google ranks sites
This all sounds great, but what about dollar signs?
For higher priced or higher risk products or services, positive reviews can help buyers overcome hesitation to purchase. For businesses on Yelp, recent research says that a one-star jump in ratings can equal a revenue increase of five to nine percent. Additionally, another survey indicates that customers would pay about 30 percent more for a service with positive online reviews, and most people will buy from you if your company has at least a four-star rating.
Responding to Online Reviews
If you have positive reviews, the question of whether to respond is easy. You either acknowledge them with a simple Thank you! or like the post. However, if the review is negative or neutral, responding can become tenuous. Most people will seek out negative reviews first, so how you handle them is important.
With negative reviews, responding promptly is key. Ignoring the bad comments doesn’t do any good – half of all people who had a bad experience with a company will tell at least five other people about it. Even if the comments seem unfair, don’t attack the reviewer or use demeaning, controlling, or insulting language. Even if the complaint is invalid, use compassion. If the complaint is valid, investigate it and use the experience to improve. Then, follow up again to report your new policy, process, or other improvement.
There's much more we can say about responding to online reviews ...
stay tuned for a follow-up post.
Managing online reviews can be time-consuming, depending on your company’s type and size, whether you actively solicit reviews, and how robust your social media following is. If you find that maintaining an online review management program is too tedious or you’re unsure where to begin, we can help. E-mail Seventh Gear Communications for help managing your company’s online reviews – and your relationship with customers.