Why Your Online Reputation Matters In 2021 And Beyond
Table of Contents
Reviews Drive Online Reputation
Say it again… Reviews Drive Online Reputation. Imagine you’re a consumer who does a web search for appliance repair in your city and the results shown below are presented. Who are you calling first? All things being equal, if you are like 93% of all other consumers, you would first try Southern Appliance Repair. Let me tell you why…
The Importance of Online Reputation
In 2021, you can’t afford to ignore online reviews. Your reputation is the sum of all the sentiment your customers decided to share online, good or bad. From restaurants to repair shops, consumers cling to online review platforms like Yelp, Google Maps, Trip Advisor, and about 25 others, to guide them in their shopping and purchasing decisions. And these reviews influence the purchasing decisions for over 93% of all consumers. That’s insurmountable to any business that believes it can get away with no reviews or, worse, poor reviews.
Online reviews provide a security blanket to your target audience — that is, the consumers you target as customers and prospects, and those who find you online. These 5 stars known as a review ranking give you social proof (or not), increase consumer trust (or not), and give anyone who doesn’t know you a reason to try you. Reviews are a direct line to the consumers you target and your online reputation will dictate whether or not anyone will give your product or service a go.
If you’re not already working to improve your online reviews, there is an easy place to start.
- First, make sure you have listings on the major review sites like Google My Business (GMB), Yelp, Trip Advisor, etc. This may be slightly different depending on what business you’re in. Rest assured, Google always matters.
- Educate your customers on the importance of leaving reviews. People generally want to help. Let them know how they can help you — by leaving a 5-star review!
- Make sure your business listing on each platform is complete and accurate, and include your contact information, links to your website and social media pages, and images if applicable.
- Most of all, be great at what you do. If you aren’t doing this part, the reviews will never be enough.
The Proof Is In the Numbers
Don’t get lost in the minutia. Below are real numbers that illustrate exactly why your online reviews and your online reputation matter.
General Online Reputation
93% of consumers indicate online reviews impact their buying decisions. We could stop right here. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, good night! If this alone doesn’t shock you into believing your online reputation is important, nothing else will.
91% of 18-35 year olds — a key demographic to most any business — trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. You heard that correctly. A whopping 91% of this group believes that what they read about your business on a review site is as good as getting it from a friend.
93% of people who use a mobile device to find you online will complete the purchase of a product or service. Most purchases happen in physical stores. Still not sure I believe this one, but it is reported by a Google/Nielsen study from 2013. What it does say is that being found online is as important as having a great online reputation.
Potential Cost of Negative Online Reviews
94% of consumers said that an online review convinced them, at least once, to avoid a business. Another stunner. If your reviews are hovering in the mid-to-high 3s (out of 5), you are in the danger zone of being looked over just on that alone.
Less than 10% of consumers will even consider using a business service that has a 1-2 star review rating. This is a no-brainer unless you’re in a secluded area with only one service provider.
Over 80% of consumers say they have changed their minds about a product or service recommended to them after they checked out online reviews. So, if you have a loyal few who recommend you, but you’ve allowed your online reputation to falter, those recommendations may not be worth much.
Tangible Value of Positive Online Reviews
The Harvard Business School reported that a single-star increase in Yelp reviews equates to a 7-10% increase in revenue for most businesses — even more for restaurants. That’s a tangible link from reviews to revenue, and it’s significant.
92% of business buyers who buy from other businesses are more likely to complete a purchase after reading positive reviews. If you sell products or services to other businesses (B2B), this is significant to your success.
Consumers will spend 32% more at a business with a majority of reviews greater than 4 stars. This is another tangible review-to-revenue connection to which you should pay attention.
The Importance of Handling Reviews
Reviews are a critical element of your business success but handling them is equally important. Remember these 3 review principles.
- Positive reviews, especially 5-stars, are digital gold. It’s important to say thanks for a good review, but whatever you do, do it consistently. In other words, if you reply to one great review, reply to all great reviews.
- Bad reviews are inevitable. Whether you are a restaurant serving gourmet cuisine or a plumber busting your butt to serve your customers, you will get a bad review no matter how hard you try. The worst part is, it may have nothing to do with you or your service — just someone having a bad day who doesn’t realize the gravity of their online tantrum.
- Responding to bad reviews is tedious. This is the trickiest piece in the review puzzle. Sound advice may say let it go. However, if your reviews are good overall (> 4), you may be compelled to respond, and you probably should. Make it short, authentic, and apologetic. And again, be consistent. Follow the advice in the next section of this article.
So How Do You Manage Online Reputation?
Start where you are. If you are aware of your review aggregate (total average of your reviews across the major review sites), you are ahead of the game. If you’re not, find your business listing on the three major sites – Google, Yelp, and Trip Advisor. If you don’t have listings there, create them.
Three easy ways to start where you are with online reviews:
- Ask your customers to review you online.
- Reply to reviews. A short and sweet thank you to great reviews and a sincere and apologetic we’ll try harder on the ones that are not so good. Essentially, never make excuses, be contrite, and do not engage the reviewer. For example, “We are very sorry you had a bad experience. Our intent is for all of our customers to have a great experience. Please allow us to make it up on your next visit. If you have any additional questions or concerns please call us and ask for the manager.” Not this: “We told you when you in the store that we don’t offer refunds for opened packages.”
- Show your customer how to give you a review. You’d be surprised, but many just don’t know how to review a business online. If you show them or send them a link that takes them right to a review page, you are much more likely to get that review.
Beginning with these three basic steps will make a difference. If you really want to step up your game, make a tangible difference in your online reputation, and get clear insights into how your customers perceive your business on all of the 25+ review sites, contact us to learn about our reputation management solution. We will not only manage it for you, but we will provide you with proactive tools and strategies to make sure the majority of customers who have a good experience with your business tell others about it. This can be the difference-maker in your business success and significantly increase your customer traffic and overall bottom line.