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Shakespeare coined the phrase, “too much of a good thing.” To this day, this applies to almost everything we enjoy in life: from trips to Target for just this one thing and that’s it I swear… to playing our favorite new song on repeat in the car on the way to Target till your husband threatens to cancel the Spotify pro subscription.
However, there is one good thing you can never have too much of if you’re a business owner: positive online reviews.
Recent studies show over 90% of consumers look up a business online before visiting it. 72% of those who shop online will only make a purchase if there are encouraging, positive reviews. With stats like these, how can new businesses get established online? How can they get accurate, positive reviews from real customers? Why did I leave Target with everything BUT the one thing I came in for?
How Business Reputation Spreads in the Modern Age
There was a time when word of mouth was the primary way a business’ reputation grew in a small town or a local area. This was even true of early e-commerce operations. This has changed greatly since the Web 2.0 has made it easier for users to share their opinions about everything and anything… whether others cared to hear them or not. In fact, 86% of individuals surveyed said reviews are more important to them than word of mouth recommendations from friends and family members.
How Online Reviews Impact Online Businesses
The ease of which reviews can be posted has lead to them being a primary decision-making factor for new customers. A study showed a direct 31% correlation to how much customers spend on e-commerce sites with the quality ratings that reviewers have given the site. Additionally, 72% say a negative review will turn them away. Online businesses can reach the entire world as a customer base, but they also have to compete with every other e-commerce site out there. Even niche markets usually have some sort of competition. It’s pretty easy to conclude that online reviews are an important factor in a business’ success.
How Online Ratings Impact Brick and Mortar Businesses
One might think that restaurants, local stores and services don’t need reviews as much as e-commerce sites hocking their wares, but the truth is 92% of users surveyed in a study only choose to use a local business if it has a good review reputation… And most users read four to seven reviews before making a decision about a company. Gone are the days that opening a store, sending out coupons and putting a large wacky inflatable waving arm guy out front would be a boon for your business. Now people are looking to see what people are saying online.
Why (Authentic) Online Reviews Matter
I think we’ve made it pretty clear here, and in previous blogs, that reviews online matter more than ever before. Dimensional Research found that the buying decisions of 90% of respondents who read online reviews were influenced by positive reviews, while 86% were influenced by negative reviews. Business owners are so aware of this fact that some have even resorted to posting fake good reviews in hopes to bolster their business. (OMG NEVER, EVER, EVER DO THIS… ever.)
Real honest to goodness authentic reviews are easy to spot… and fake ones are even easier. Most consumers have quickly developed a sixth sense for things that seem too good to be true. Except in the case of this Nigerian Prince I’m pen pals with. He’s got an amazing investment opportunity for me! We can talk later if you want to get in on this. But I digress… Honest reviews from actual clients, on the other hand, speak to the potential customer from someone in the same position as they are. The trust this can establish – or destroy – is crucial.
It’s a Numbers Game…
Fan & Fuel Digital Marketing Group, found that 92% of consumers will hesitate to buy something if it has no customer reviews at all. And unfortunately, just having a few 4 and 5-star reviews isn’t gonna cut it if you really want to succeed. One negative review online (when not countered by positive reviews) can cost up to 30 new customers. It takes 12 positive reviews to cancel out the nasty side effects of just one negative review. Also, a new study published in Psychological Science found that if two similar products have the same rating, online shoppers will buy the one with more reviews.
Quality AND Quantity Affect Your Rankings
It’s not just about trust. Online reviews can even affect your rankings in local searches. A recent study by the geniuses at Moz unearthed the variety of Google ranking factors and they discovered that online reviews definitely influence where a business appears not only in Google’s Local 3-Pack results but also in localized organic search results.
There are 4 factors Google is looking at when it comes to reviews and how they affect local search rankings:
- The quantity of reviews your business has.
- Where you’re receiving reviews (i.e., Google, Yelp, Facebook, Trip Advisor, Angie’s List, etc.)
- Your average star rating.
- The rate at which you receive reviews.
Google recently added “reviews from the web,” which aggregates reviews from third-party sites and prominently places them in the knowledge panel in a local search. When searching for restaurants, lawyers, carpet cleaners, etc., users will see up to three review site ratings on mobile and desktop. “Reviews from the web” makes it even more important to have a diversity of sites where you’re collecting reviews.
Don’t Let the Haters Get You Down! Why Good Businesses Get Bad Reviews
Since its inception, the Internet has served as a place for people to vent. You might find that often times, negative reviews are longer and more detailed, not to mention more emotionally charged. An upset customer often has little recourse to right a perceived wrong with a local business, so they often settle for the cathartic experience of “venting” with an online rant. Look at any major business or popular product; it probably has at least a few one-star reviews claiming its the worst thing that’s happened in the history of humanity… even if there’s an established record of huge sales and success. Some reviews might even be petty and inaccurate. How can business owners combat this tendency of disgruntled customers who may or may not be accurately representing what happened?
Don’t panic! An interesting study conducted by Northwestern University found that consumers perceive ratings at a perfect 5.0 as “too good to be true.” As counterintuitive as it may seem, negative reviews have a positive impact because they help establish trust and authenticity.
Consumers understand that a product, service, business, etc… can’t be all things to all people, and they appreciate negative reviews as an important element in their decision-making process. In fact, previous PowerReviews research found that 82% of shoppers specifically seek out negative reviews. They want to see what the WORST thing people have to say about a business is to see if it would influence their purchasing criteria or not.
The way you handle these negative reviews is the crux of the matter and will make all the difference in the world. Respond immediately in a respectful, professional manner and see if there is any way you can make the situation right. In some cases, reviewers will update their reviews to a higher rating if their needs are met and may advocate for you as having excellent customer service. But even if they don’t and there are irreconcilable differences, other readers will see that you care and take an active role in customer satisfaction.
How To Establish Quality, Positive Reviews
Quality reviews don’t happen by accident. Some businesses go above and beyond to impress customers, knowing that most people feel a sense of gratitude to an outstanding experience and will want to reciprocate in a way that doesn’t cost them anything but time. But, businesses that are truly #winning at the review game are the ones that are actively reminding their customers to leave reviews as well as making it extremely easy to do so. BrightLocal found in a 2017 survey that after being asked to leave a review, 68% of customers did.
Here are a few tips you should implement immediately to start raining those sweet, sweet reviews down upon your business:
- Remind customers to leave a review while they are still thinking about your product or service
- Make the process easier for them to complete! Don’t make them search and hunt around for your business’ channels. Guide each reviewer through selecting the best review site and completing a review.
- Have it available for them to do in their downtime.
- Actively monitor and respond to all reviews left across your review channels