We always talk about the importance of building a strong online presence, and with that comes the prospect of online reviews. They sound scary and exposing from the outset, but the humble customer review has a lot to offer your business and bottom line. Here are the reasons we encourage online customer reviews and how to manage them.
The benefits of online reviews
1. Build brand trust
With the world increasingly moving online, reviews are paving the way for a new system of doing business and greater opportunities. According to research conducted by Bright Local, 77% of consumers will ‘always’ or ‘regularly’ read reviews when browsing local businesses – and this number is only increasing.
Online reviews now form an important part of the consumer purchase cycle, particularly as they navigate the ‘messy middle.’ Almost two-thirds of consumers believe that online reviews are an essential component of the decision-making process. It’s vital to stand out from competitors online, and a proven way to do this is to increase positive reviews, moving consumers quickly from the exploration stage to initial purchase.
Consumers love social proof. They want to feel validated in their choices, and even the support of complete strangers online (leaving 4 or 5-star reviews and glowing comments on Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc.) is enough to offer this. At times, these reviews are relied on more than anecdotal feedback from friends and family.
Online reviews build the brand trust required to make the leap to purchase, helping to develop and solidify an identity and reputation. It also helps to manage expectations – customers are aware of the process, the offering and the feedback loop before they try or buy. With more customers feeling comfortable in their selection, online reviews directly correlate with improved sales.
2. Improve search engine optimisation
Consider for a moment that reviews are the first section to appear on a Google search, displayed at the top of all results. Google, and other search engines, love reviews. The constant update and input from customer reviews are favourable to search engines, feeding the content machine that satisfies the algorithm. Improve your rankings and, therefore, your business’s visibility by encouraging customer reviews. The more reviews, the better.
3. Gain important feedback
Choose to see reviews as an essential part of the feedback process loop. Customers have first-hand tales about the delivery, the product or service, and the experience in-between, which are vital for the continual growth and betterment of your business. Gain insights into what is being done exceptionally well and what could do with some more work, allowing you to focus on specific areas. Use these tools to your advantage.
It also plays a significant role in creating an open communication line with customers, enabling them to feel safe in your hands – that their opinion and thoughts matter. Nowadays, businesses are expected to interact and respond. When it’s done right, there is an opportunity for repeat business, the development of brand loyalty, and generating more word of mouth.
What do we do with bad online reviews?
With the good, of course, may at times come the bad, and asking customers to leave reviews can seem incredibly daunting. Firstly, see customer feedback as a learning opportunity and a chance for your business to allocate resources where they are most needed. Make sure timely responses are prioritised – show customers you care about their concerns and are willing to assist.
Partnering with a digital marketing agency is a great way to offload the stress of reputation management. RealClicks believes that online customer reviews are crucial – both for benefitting your business online and off. We assist clients in resolving issues in-house before waiting for a customer to leave a Google review. Our Reputation Management service offers an EDM-based feedback service so that negative comments can be mitigated privately (with the customer service team) instead of being taken public (and impacting your overall reputation online). At the same time, we encourage customers with positive experiences to leave reviews on the platform of their choice – building trust, improving SEO rankings and boosting your bottom line.
Shine online and stand out from the masses. Get in touch with us today to discuss how reputation management can benefit your business.