Embrace the Impact of Online Reviews

When was the last time you Googled your business? Did you notice that 5-star rating on the right side? Are you happy with it? Your brand credibility depends on this simple stat. Potential customers can now get an insider’s view before experiencing your product or service themselves! And trust us, they do. 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. Online reviews are the new word of mouth marketing.  Here’s how to embrace the power of online reviews and leverage them to your business’s advantage.

The customer’s experience should always be the top priority.

When Joanna Gaines opened Magnolia Market off Bosque her main goal was to create a cozy climate with fresh candles and flowers where buyers would feel inspired. She wanted to make their experience in her store worthwhile. Joanna even said the greatest compliment she received was from a client who didn’t even spend a dollar. The woman said, “I just come here because I want to be in here. This place inspires me.”

So how do your customers feel when they enter your store? If you're online, how do they feel when they look at your website or social pages? The environment you create reflects on your company’s reputation and clients can tell when you put in the extra care. Creating a unique and memorable experience in-person and online is priceless.

Reward for reviews

You want to customers experience to be a memorable one- one where they go home talking about how the lighting romanticized the room or that the unique dining set really transformed a simple pasta dish. Instead of just sharing with one another, encourage your customers to share their experience on Google, Yelp or OpenTable! In fact, 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more. Their positive experience can open your doors to new customers without costing your company a dime in advertising. If you’re a restaurant, OpenTable not only manages reservations but automatically sends a follow-up email after the reservation asking the customer to rate their experience. Consider implementing a similar engagement strategy if you email digital receipts or offer a reward, let’s say 10% off their next order when they share their experience.

Monitor negative comments

And with the good comes the bad. The online community is an easy, anonymous way to submit critical feedback. But here’s a silver lining to that grey cloud- it’s a free way to monitor your business’s reputation without hiring a research firm. And just ONE negative review can impact your bottom line.

Research shows businesses risk losing 22% of business when potential customers find one negative article on the first page of their search results. If your business has two negatives on the first page of the search, you’re at risk of losing 44% of customers. If three negative articles pop up in a search query, the potential for lost customers increases to 59.2%. Imagine that- more than HALF of your prospective customers are walking away before they even step foot through your doors. All the SEO optimization, paid advertising, and email marketing goes straight out the door.

Have four or more negative articles about your company or product appearing in Google search results? You’re likely to lose 70% of potential customers and it’s time to get your hands dirty to get to the root of the issues shared online.

Where to look

Knowing where to look is key to monitoring positive and negative reviews. The best place to keep a pulse is to monitor your site traffic monthly. If you see changing patterns in referral traffic from sites like Google or Facebook it could be due to reviews. Let’s say you typically receive 50 unique visitors from Facebook a month and suddenly it drops 50% to 25. It could very well be that your 5-star ranking has dropped to 3.5 or the content your post doesn’t resonate as well as it used to. Think of website analytics as a monthly check-up to determine the health of your online reputation.

Check these common review websites: Google, Yelp, Facebook, Angie’s List, in addition to industry-specific sites like OpenTable, Travelocity, WeddingWire, The Knot etc.