Word of mouth is a powerful tool for businesses, but now word of mouth doesn’t just occur between friends, families, and neighbors. Now, anyone who visits your business can voice their opinions online—good or bad—and the reach of their words is limitless. Considering that just shy of 100% of consumers say that they read online reviews before visiting a business, it’s clear that your online reputation has never mattered more. Your company can’t afford to ignore online reviews, because your customers and potential customers are reading these reviews. The best way to take charge of your online reputation, or more specifically, your online reviews, is to understand how your customers use them and adjust accordingly. This insight into how customers use online reviews will help you make the right decisions for your brand.
Potential customers use online reviews to research your company before doing business with you.
Approximately 97% of people look for online reviews before they decide to reach out to a business. Google is the most common place for people to turn, with about 63% of people searching for reviews there as a first step.
Keep in mind that consumers may visit more than one site, so every review on every platform matters. In other words, you can’t count on managing reviews on Google and Yelp and letting Facebook fend for itself, because of the smaller percentage of people it captures. However, knowing your market and the social media platforms that they use most often can be part of your reputation management strategy.
When customers seek out online reviews, they are motivated.
Surfing online reviews isn’t typically something that potential customers do without cause. When they’re reading reviews, they are actively looking for a company to supply a service. In fact, about 82% of people who are checking out reviews are ready and willing to make a purchase—and 89% of people who read reviews make an online purchase within the week.
Online reviews are actually an important step in the consumer retention cycle. The first stage of the cycle—discovery—is when your reviews are likely to come into the picture. Good views will help draw them into the remaining stages of the retention cycle: contact, choice, loyalty, advocacy, and feedback. As you can see, the end of that cycle involves satisfied customers advocating for you and providing feedback. In other words, those customers can generate positive online reviews to restart the cycle with new consumers.
Customers want to read reviews, but they have a limit.
Customers expect to see reviews about businesses. In fact, when they can’t find any, they become suspicious. They aren’t going to deep dive for them, however, and they aren’t going to spend all day combing through reviews to get a balanced picture of feedback about your business.
In fact, about 40% of people who check reviews will make their mind up about purchasing—or about your business’ reputation—after reading between one and three reviews. You have a limited window of time to capture the attention to consumers and convince them to choose your business, making online reputation management all the more important.
You can increase customer engagement and attract more reviews with a few simple strategies.
Having a large number of reviews makes your business look popular and engaged. About six in 10 adults in the US will go online to post reviews of goods and services, while five in 10 will post restaurant reviews. You can reach or exceed that number by actively soliciting feedback from customers and encouraging engagement. Sending follow-up surveys is an easy to generate a response, plus, it gives you valuable insight into how to make your brand better. When you get reviews—or any kind of social media comment—respond within 24 hours. This is especially true for negative reviews. Proactively looking for fix a situation and helping a customer who was dissatisfied find a solution demonstrates your commitment to high-quality service.
One thing you shouldn’t do is to try to suppress all negative reviews. Almost 70% of consumers don’t believe any of the reviews if they are all positive. They expect to see a mix of reviews, so let them stand. Similarly, offering customers rewards for posting good reviews will cause people to lose trust in your business. You can incentivize people to post reviews, but you should never tie an incentive to the content of the review. If you deliver good service, good reviews will naturally outweigh the bad.
Your online reviews are good for analytics.
Customers use online reviews to help them make smart purchasing decisions. However, reviews are also handy for you to have as well. They provide valuable insight directly from your customer base about what is and isn’t working for your brand. When customers post reviews, they are more likely to be completely honest than they would be if you were soliciting the information in person, so embrace this opportunity to get straight talk from your customers about your service, and of course, adjust based on what you hear—it will help you get better reviews in the future.
Salem Surround understands the importance of managing your online reputation and the significance of reviews for your brand. Let our experience team assist you with review generation and reputation management, so you can put the power of reviews to work for you.