Why Online Reviews are Essential for Small Business!

Online Reviews

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Wearable technologies, social networks, and business directories have changed people’s shopping habits. Before making a purchasing decision, savvy customers google your brand and read customer online reviews. 

Most importantly, they are more likely to share positive and negative experiences with your company with the public. 

Here is how online reviews can impact your small business.

1. Driving Social Proof

Social proof refers to the psychological phenomenon where people conform to the opinions of larger groups. 

In the business landscape, social proof marketing plays a fundamental role. And, online reviews are its most powerful weapon.

According to research studies, 90% of buyers read online reviews before making a purchase. They are looking for proof from peers that your product or service is quality and reliable. 

Reading positive reviews from other customers who purchased from you builds trust with prospective customers. It indicates that a high-rated product is a good choice for them.

2. Making your Business Look Credible

A consistent stream of positive reviews can help you build trust with potential customers and increase brand credibility. 

When reading customer reviews on crowd-sourced review platforms, customers consider several factors.

The first is the number of reviews. According to BrightLocal, 49% of consumers believe that the quantity of reviews matters. Businesses can use this QR code for Google reviews since it gives customers an easy and quick way to review your product, resulting in more reviews.

Second, they pay attention to your average ratings. The BrightLocal study also found that 57% of consumers will not purchase from you if it has less than a 4-star rating. 

3. Contributing to Problem Solving

Not all business reviews are positive. Even the most user-friendly business is likely to get at least a few negative comments. Mistakes happen in the business landscape. And, that is fine. No one expects you to be perfect.

Believe it or not, negative reviews can benefit your business in multiple ways.

First, they help you identify your company’s pain points and improve customer service. If many customers leave negative reviews and complain about the same problem, it is probably worth addressing. 

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For example, say 30 customers praise your product quality but criticize your overly complicated checkout process. For you, that is an opportunity to optimize website experiences and simplify the customer journey.

Second, most negative comments are written by your dissatisfied and angry customers. Their poor experiences with your brand may discourage readers from making purchases. Research studies back me up on that. Namely, negative reviews influence the buying decision of 86% of consumers. More than four negative reviews can decrease a company’s sales by 70%.

However, that does not mean you should be afraid of negative reviews. Observe them as an opportunity to boost brand trustworthiness and win dissatisfied customers back. In a recent blog post on the value of customer reviews, AdVisible explains that a thoughtful response to a negative review can be all it takes to nullify the negative review. By helping them resolve problems, you prove that you care about each customer. 

Here are a few tips on responding to negative reviews:

  • Accept complete responsibility and apologize for a customer’s bad experience.
  • Empathize with the stress and frustration they experience.
  • Be sincere about the cause of the mistake and explain how you will remedy a customer.
  • Offer a refund, a replacement product, or a free service – anything that may improve their experience and encourage them to buy from you again.
  • Keep your response brief and honest.

4. Sparking Up a Conversation about You

By encouraging customers to review your business on Google My Business, you expand your company’s reach.

When users are satisfied with your services, they write positive reviews and rate them with five stars. Moreover, they will share their reviews on social networks and online business directories, such as Yelp, BBB, or FourSquare. 

Therefore, encourage your customers to talk about you and spread positive word of mouth. That helps you increase your brand’s online exposure, grow your company’s multi-channel footprint, and make your business look more trustworthy. Having a lot of positive reviews may encourage future reviews, too.

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5. Impacting Customer Decision-Making

In the section discussing social proof, we mentioned that peer reviews have an immense impact on buyer journeys. When looking for your business for the first time, customers can get overwhelmed. They invest a lot of time and energy into evaluating products and comparing brands. 

Online reviews are essential to their decision-making process, providing first-hand information on your business. According to the abovementioned BrightLocal study, an average consumer reads ten online reviews before making a purchase. 

By reading online reviews, they can get a better idea about your products, such as their material, size, shape, or color.

6. Improving your Company’s Visibility in the Local Search

Small businesses want to be visible to relevant customers in their vicinity. That is why they optimize their organic presence for local search. 

However, ranking for local searches requires you to combine several local SEO ranking factors. And, online reviews take 16% of local ranking signals, up from 12% in 2018. That indicates the importance of online reviews to consumers. 

According to Moz, Google analyzes reviews on GMB, as well as third-party platforms like Yelp. 

Apart from high numerical Google ratings, the search engine also assesses customer sentiment in review text and the quality of native Google reviews. Therefore, to improve rankings, encourage customers to leave positive reviews and rankings on these digital channels. 

Over to You

Having customers talk about you benefits your business on so many levels. Online reviews build trust with your target audience and make your business seem more trustworthy. As such, they facilitate customers’ decision-making process and encourage them to purchase from you.

I hope these tips will convince you to invest more in online reviews!

Online reviews article and permission to publish here provided by Elaine Bennett. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on June 14, 2021.
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