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7 min read

The Increasing Importance of Customer Reviews

By Annie Wissner

As a business owner (or the point person responsible for managing your company’s marketing efforts), it should be no secret that your company’s reputation is its most valuable asset. It's what sets you apart from the competition and draws in new customers. What people say about your business matters, and that's especially true when it comes to what people are saying and sharing about your business online.

But here's the thing: too many small and mid-sized businesses overlook the power of online reviews. Maybe they think they don't have time to manage them, or they assume that because they only serve a local market, online reviews aren't that important.

The truth is, online reviews can make or break your business.

They influence purchase decisions, shape brand perception, and can even impact your search engine rankings. Ignoring them could be a costly mistake.

Don't let that happen to you! In this blog, we’ll outline how you can take control of your online reputation and harness the power of positive reviews.

Let’s be clear… Online reviews of your business are EXTREMELY important! According to the latest data:

  • 89% of users read online reviews before buying a product or service. A survey by Trustpilot found that almost 9 out of 10 consumers are actively hunting down reviews before they buy anything. That's a whole lot of people relying on the wisdom of others to help them make smart purchasing decisions. Reviews can make or break a business. Positive ones can be a powerful driver of sales and repeat business, while negative ones can send customers running for the hills. So if you're a business owner, it's time to start paying attention to your online reputation - because it could make all the difference in your success.
  • 93% of users say online reviews had an impact on their buying decisions. According to research, a whopping 93% of online buyers say reviews play a big role in their purchasing decisions. And when it comes to picking a business, people tend to go for those with a decent star rating of at least 3.3 out of 5. It makes sense, right? In today's crazy competitive marketplace, businesses need to do everything they can to stand out and keep customers happy. And if you can rack up some positive reviews and ratings, you'll be well on your way to doing just that.
  • Only 9% of consumers would consider engaging with a business that had a 1- or 2-star average rating. Did you know that businesses with lower star ratings are way less likely to receive customer orders? Yep, it's true - research has shown that bad reviews can seriously hurt a business's chances of success. But even though some negative reviews are unavoidable, businesses that prioritize offering a top-notch customer experience are way more likely to achieve higher ratings overall.

First, Understand That Not All Reviews Are Equal

I know what you’re thinking... It's obvious that positive reviews are a good thing and negative reviews are a bad thing. However, something to consider as a small or mid-sized business owner or marketer is that having no reviews at all can also have a negative impact on your business’s ability to attract new customers. Today’s consumers are more tech-savvy than ever, so when the average person is glued to his or her smartphone on a daily basis, you can bet your last dollar that they’re Googling your business before using it, especially if they’ve never heard of you before.

The big problem with having few to no reviews is that finding little to no information tells them that you’re either a new business with no social support or worse… people care so little about you that you’re not even on their radar. However, just a few positive reviews can reassure potential customers that you’re worth checking out!

Bottom line, lots of honest, authentic reviews means people trust your business, which in turn is a great marketing tool that has real power to attract new customers.

Let’s Talk About Negative Reviews For a Minute

Did you know that businesses risk losing 22% of prospective customers who would have bought from them when there is a negative review? This is based on just one poor review! If you have three or more negative reviews, the chance of losing customers jumps to nearly 67%. Four or more negative reviews can turn as many as 86% of your potential customers away. Think about that for a minute- It only takes a handful of negative reviews to deter 86% of prospective customers from contacting you.

The reality is that bad reviews can negate all the time, money, and energy you put into building a successful business. This is why it’s so important to take care of your customers! One upset customer leaving a negative review can open the floodgates for many others to add their two cents. Taking care of your customers and providing exceptional service will pay dividends in attracting new customers.

If you’re faced with negative reviews, the single best course of action is to tackle them head-on in a genuine effort to improve your service. Research suggests when retailers replied to negative reviews on social media and online review sites, a third of those customers either deleted their original negative review or replaced it with a positive review. In fact, if a business resolves a negative review quickly and efficiently, 95% of unhappy customers will return to your business.

Positive Reviews Can Turn Interested Searchers Into Customers

According to online reviews statistics, just one positive review on a product page can increase conversion rates by a whopping 354%. This means that a potential customer who is on the fence about purchasing your product or service may be more likely to take the plunge if they see positive reviews from other satisfied customers. However, it's not just about the quantity of reviews - the quality also matters. Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy at detecting fake reviews, and may be deterred from purchasing if they suspect that the reviews are not genuine. Therefore, it's crucial to cultivate honest and transparent feedback from your customers.

You Know You Need Reviews, But… Don’t Fake It!

Not having any reviews doesn’t mean you should fall into the trap of buying or creating fake reviews. It’s fairly easy to spot a series of made-up comments, as they tend to be overly descriptive and written in a way that just sounds, well… fake.

Interestingly, reviews that have slightly lower scores tend to feel more "real" to consumers than those perfect 5-star ratings that can seem a bit fake. In fact, over 50% of consumers say they're more likely to trust reviews with a few imperfect scores. Plus, did you know that most consumers (that's 6 out of 10!) actually dig even deeper when they see a product with only 5 star ratings or perfect reviews? It just goes to show that honesty and transparency are key when it comes to building trust with your customers.

And 95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see any bad scores. If you’re called out with fake reviews, the damage to your business may be irreparable. Nobody likes a liar, so don’t make yourself out to be one.

How to Encourage and Manage Customer Reviews for Your Business

To encourage reviews, you need to make the process as effortless as possible. Consider sending follow-up emails after a purchase, including a review request in your email signature, or even creating a review page on your website. Don't shy away from asking your customers to leave a review - it's the best way to leverage their influence for your brand.

Managing customer reviews is just as important. You need to monitor them regularly and respond promptly - both positive and negative. When you respond, be sure to thank customers for their feedback, address any concerns they may have, and offer solutions to their problems. By doing so, you'll show your customers that you value their feedback and are committed to providing outstanding customer service.

So, go ahead and unlock the power of customer reviews. Your brand's success depends on it!

Why Online Reviews Matter for Local SEO

Customer reviews can have a significant impact on your search engine rankings. According to Google, online reviews are one of the top three ranking factors for local search. This means that businesses with more positive reviews are more likely to appear at the top of search engine results pages.

To improve your search engine rankings with customer reviews, it's important to encourage customers to leave reviews on your website, Google My Business, and other review sites. You can also include customer reviews on your website to show search engines that your business is legitimate and trustworthy.

It’s essential to respond to customer reviews promptly and professionally. When search engines see that you’re actively engaged with your customers, they are more likely to view your business as an authority in your industry and boost your search engine rankings accordingly.

Leveraging Customer Reviews for Social Media and Email Marketing Campaigns

Did you know that customer reviews can do more than just boost your brand's reputation? They're also a potent tool for social media and email marketing campaigns. By leveraging customer reviews, you can create compelling social media posts, share inspiring customer success stories, and promote your products or services with authentic customer feedback.

However, not all customer reviews are created equal. To get the most out of them, it's crucial to choose reviews that highlight your business's strengths and appeal to your target audience. You can also include customer reviews in your newsletters, email signatures, and other marketing materials to demonstrate your customers' satisfaction and loyalty.

So, what are you waiting for? Let your customers' rave reviews speak for themselves, and watch your marketing efforts soar to new heights!

Using customer reviews as a tool for product and service development and improvement

Customer reviews aren't just a way to measure your brand's success - they're also a valuable tool for product and service development. By listening to your customers' feedback, you can identify areas where your offerings can be improved and make changes accordingly. This leads to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, which is essential for any business.

To use customer reviews effectively, you need to analyze them regularly and look for patterns in the feedback. This can help you identify common pain points and areas for improvement. But don't stop there - consider using surveys and focus groups to gather even more detailed feedback from your customers.

By taking action based on customer feedback, you'll demonstrate that you value their opinions and are committed to providing exceptional products and services. So, what are you waiting for? Let your customers guide you towards success!

How Do You Ensure Your Customers Are Happy and Won’t Leave Negative Reviews? Give HLM a Call!

If nothing else, we hope this post has opened your eyes to the need to develop a strategy for responding to online reviews. When managed well, reviews can be a huge business generator, as well as key indicators of areas your business is succeeding in and areas where improvement is needed.

At High Level Marketing, the sole purpose behind everything we do to empower business owners and operators like you to leverage the latest technology to get in front of the people who are looking for the services you offer, and more importantly, drive them to contact YOU instead of your competitors.

We’ve worked with thousands of small and mid-sized businesses of almost every kind throughout the US to enhance online reviews with our review management tool! Check out our solution, and contact us today for a FREE strategy session.

Stats Sourced from: Moz.com, BrightLocal, business2community, Econsultancy, Reevoo, and Social Media Today

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