Understanding The Importance Of Online Reviews

When it comes to building your brand’s online reputation, it’s hard to overstate the importance of online reviews. Still, many business owners, managers and marketers continue to ignore this simple aspect of an effective digital marketing strategy. 

Whether you’re a full-fledged e-commerce business, have a basic informative site or simply rely on your social media page for visibility, showcasing your customers’ positive experiences is a tactic everyone should take advantage of.

Review sites like Yelp have built an entire business model around online reviews. Amazon is not only a place consumers go to shop, but also to check reviews of certain products before they make a purchase decision. Obviously, shoppers place a substantial amount of faith in reviews.

If you want to strengthen your business’ online presence, consider these reasons why you must focus on encouraging your customers to leave reviews.

Customers Trust Customers

Since the vast majority of consumers trust online recommendations as much as if a friend was making the recommendation, positive customer testimonials are vital to attracting new customers to your business. Furthermore, 72% of online shoppers will only make a purchase after they have read a positive review.

Of course, once you convince them to make the initial purchase, it becomes much cheaper to retain them as a customer than it is to attract another new customer.

Increase Basket Size

If you own or operate a local business, reviews and customer feedback are especially crucial. Since you’re drawing from a smaller pool of customers than a national or international brand, you need each basket–or individual purchase–to be as valuable as possible. Customers are willing to spend 31% more when they have read excellent customer reviews of your company.

Bring More People to Your Location

If you want to increase foot traffic to your location, then take steps to increase the number of positive reviews that potential customers see. Statistics show that 71% of customers say they trust a local business more when they read positive reviews online.

Also, the number of reviews can play a factor when a consumer is making a purchasing decision. If Company ABC has 20+ online customer reviews and Company XYZ only has 2, it’s pretty clear which one will be considered to have more credibility.

Provide Social Proof

People like the psychological reinforcement of seeing that others have made the same decision they’re contemplating, and reviews provide that proof. Studies show that product reviews are trusted 12 times more than the manufacturer’s descriptions. Therefore, customers are more willing to consider your product after confirming that others are having good results using it.

Positive Reviews Correlate To More Revenue

According to a Harvard Business School study of reviews in the restaurant industry, improving your star rating by just one star raised sales between 5 and 9 percent. If a business does not have any online reviews, 92% of customers say that factors into their buying decision.

Create a Connection

After researching products, consumers tend to make emotional buying decisions. That’s why word of mouth advertising and personal recommendations are so powerful. When shoppers feel some personal connection to a particular brand or product, they have a comfort level that can influence their decision making.

Reviews are a great way to encourage an emotional buying decision. Reading about someone else’s positive customer experience gives consumers confidence in the brand.

Assist In Addressing Problems

While everyone hopes that their business pleases their customers all the time, very rarely do you see 100% positive online reviews. When you have missteps that may result in a negative review, use it as an opportunity to engage the reviewer and address the problem.

The potential benefit is two-fold. Not only do you increase the chances of retention for that particular customer, but other consumers that see this interaction are more likely to give you a chance. Bottom line–don’t run from negative reviews. Face them head-on and highlight your desire to correct mistakes.

Online Reputation Management

Approximately 88% of customers begin their search online before purchasing a product or service, and that number continues to grow.

Positive reviews are also essential to building your online reputation. Studies show that consumers are more likely to attribute credibility to businesses with many reviews than those with few or none. Especially for a new business, building a portfolio of reviews is one of the fastest ways to establish yourself as trustworthy.

And once again, don’t be afraid to engage with negative reviews (professionally, of course). The way you handle complaints can be just as impactful as a positive review.

Influence Your Position With Google

Take a step back and think about Google’s business model. Google builds and maintains its reputation by sending people to the best source. Therefore, they use AI technology to identify which businesses meet customer needs the best and send customers to those businesses. Customer reviews (especially those done through Google directly) can help boost your organic rankings and visibility.

SEO Value

Customer reviews can also offer critical SEO value for your business. Working keywords into your replies allows you to send signals to the search engines, showing that your business is relevant for particular search queries.

Don’t try to artificially stuff keywords into your responses, but be thoughtful in the words you choose. Depending on how you ask for the review, you can often influence the words customers use in their reviews.

Along with the opportunity to utilize relevant keywords, the reviews themselves can be an important ranking factor for search results. Accumulating reviews and engaging with them via your Google My Business account will greatly increase your chances of showing up high in the results for local searches.

This previous article talks more about how reviews (and many other factors) can be managed with your Google My Business account.

Build Expertise, Authority And Trustworthiness (EAT)

Google and other search engines emphasize a company’s expertise, relevance and trustworthiness when displaying search results. Gathering outstanding customer reviews is a great way to build all three. This shows search engines that others view your company as an authority in your field.

As you interact professionally with a review, it promotes your business by showing that you provide the value customers are after. When you regularly respond to online reviews, you show that you are committed to customer service.

Create Credibility Through Consistency

Getting online reviews in as many places as possible helps to build your credibility in another way. It provides another potential place to post your name, address and phone number. This consistent display of your information fosters familiarity and trust with consumers, as well as signaling more credibility to search engines.

Wherever possible, engage with your reviews, as it signals that there is a person behind the brand name. Remember that people trust people, but generally do not trust companies. Engaging with customer reviews helps humanize your brand and creates loyal customers.

Gain Insights To Mold Your Business’ Future

It’s vital to get online reviews to build your position as an authority with customers and search engines. The information that customers will share with you through reviews can help guide you in planning your company’s future. Your customers are in the best position to tell you why your products are the best (or need improvement). Reviews can be a great source of inspiration for new product additions to your lineup.

Appeal To The Right Talent

Especially as your business grows, you won’t be able to do everything yourself–and it’s generally never a good idea, as you’ll wind up spreading yourself too thin.

A study by Small Business Trends shows that 83% of job seekers read online business reviews when deciding which employers they’ll apply to. They also may read reviews before interviewing or accepting job offers.

When the time comes to expand your workforce, reviews can help prospects learn more about your business.


It’s Never Too Late To Get Into The Review Game

If you’ve been neglecting the importance of online reviews for your business, don’t worry. Contact us, and we will be glad to help you get on track. We understand and utilize the latest tools and strategies, and are happy to help you apply it to your business.


Tags: business reputation, online marketing