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How Do Online Reviews Bring Your Business Value?

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You’ve heard that gathering online reviews can be one of the fastest ways to attract more customers and increase revenue. But how do you know reviews are actually accomplishing those things when word of mouth and reputation are so intangible by nature?

What kind of bottom-line growth can your business expect if you start gathering more reviews, and how can you track success and prove ROI once you start?

I’m going to show you, by breaking down the current research surrounding reviews and the value they can bring your business.

Why do other businesses prioritize reviews?

76% of marketers plan to spend more time on reputation management in the coming years, including gathering online reviews.

Why?

Consumers no longer trust advertising, with 3 out of 4 people saying they make it a point to avoid ads altogether (both traditional and digital). But consumers do trust reviews—because they aren’t something your business created and instead come from other consumers.

In other words, reviews are seen as objective and unbiased assessments of your business to consumers. And they trust them to the point that:

PC: Search Engine Journal

Compare those numbers to the 96% of consumers who say they don’t trust ads, and it’s clear to see why there’s been an exponential growth (over 278%) in online reviews since 2015.

Your own business needs to adjust to consumers’ expectations for reviews if you want to appeal to them.

PC: BrightLocal

How do reviews actually influence a consumer?

Did you know that reviews are typically the first way potential customers are introduced to a company?

Before they know a certain business exists, 81% of consumers search online (usually through Google) for the kind of product or service they want, and then see the company in their search—which will include their reviews.

Because of this, 90% of consumers read online reviews before moving on to visit a business's website. And whether or not that business has positive, negative, or any reviews at all, determines if the consumer makes that next click to their home page.

68% of consumers say they’re always more likely to do business with a company if it has positive reviews.

Research shows they’re the ultimate first impression, and it takes only 10 reviews for a consumer to form an opinion about a business.

So for your business reviews can be handshake that determines whether people even evaluate you as someone to work with or buy from.

PC: BrightLocal

Are there any limits to a review’s influence?

Only 6% of consumers say they don’t trust online reviews, while 16% say they’re at least skeptical of online reviews.

Consumers want to feel like they're getting a 360 view of the company (good, bad, and the rest), so they automatically become less influenced by reviews when:

  • They have multiple exclamation points in them
  • They’re all only positive
  • There’s less than 10 of them
  • They’re older than three months

74% of consumers also fear that they have read fake reviews. But despite this, 82% of consumers will still always read online reviews before making a purchase.

Fake reviews can be hard to spot, but they’re common:

  • 61% of reviews on Amazon have been found to be fake
  • An estimated 55,000 fake reviews are generated on Facebook a month
  • 1 in 7 Trip Advisor reviews are predicted to be fake

Where do fake reviews come from?

While a good bulk are planted by employees to paint their business in a better light, there’s also a significant chunk of negative reviews that are fabricated by bots, competitors, or internet trolls to hurt your business.

Luckily you can spot fake negative reviews by their typos, numerous exclamation points, use of all caps, or strange usernames and inconsistencies.

There also won’t be any paper trail left by the reviewer when you go to search for their review history (because their account was more than likely just made to leave the fake review).

PC: SEOblog

But don’t worry. Your business can usually counteract these fake reviews by calmly and tactfully acknowledging their inconsistencies in a reply. Other consumers will be smart enough to recognize something is off too.
Most review platforms will also give you a way to flag or report potentially fake reviews.

PC: Whitespark

Can reviews impact your online visibility?

Having a large amount of reviews can determine whether or not your business is seen by potential customers when they search for a business like yours.

Over 15% of Google’s local pack ranking factors are determined by review signals. Review signals can include:

  • The amount of reviews you have
  • How frequently you get new reviews
  • The amount of reviews you have across different platforms (Google, Yelp, Capterra, ect.)

PC: Chatmeter

The more positive review signals you have, the more positively you impact your Google search ranking. This can make a significant difference for a company, especially considering that 75% of consumers don’t look at businesses beyond the first page of their search results.

Online reviews can help push your business to that coveted first page.

How can reviews increase leads and sales?

When more people are finding and looking at a business's website because of reviews, it’s only natural that more people are also turning into leads for that company.

In fact, businesses that improve their review star rating by 1.5 out of 5 have been estimated to receive 13,000 more leads.

Why?

It’s from the social proof online reviews generate. Social proof describes the psychological phenomenon when a person is more likely to do something because they see other people doing the same thing.

Businesses most commonly use reviews to create social proof when they display them next to their products or services to show that other people have made purchases and were happy. For example, a business called Seriously Silly Socks drove a 60% higher order value on their website with the 3,000 five-star reviews that populate their product pages.

Positive reviews are predicted to produce an average 18% uplift in sales.

If you're going to put effort into something for your business, you want it to improve your revenue or profits—and research backs up that reviews do just that.

Can reviews negatively impact a business?

Is one bad review capable of hurting a business’s reputation?

What about 10 bad reviews out of 20? Or 100 out of 1,000?

Surprisingly, it’s more likely that your business will see negative results from reviews if you only have positive ones. Consumers actually want to see a few low ratings, because it shows you’re legit and not just faking all their reviews.

Negative reviews also commonly give businesses a chance to step in and show their customer service skills. In fact, 45% of consumers are more likely to work with a business that responds to negative reviews. So pay attention and respond!

When you respond to your customers’ reviews, you open up a direct line between you and them that can build trust.

A plethora of bad reviews will hurt a business’s search ranking and deter potential customers away when they aren’t balanced out by positive reviews or acknowledged by the business.

If you have all bad reviews, consumers are going to think you're a bad business. Don't agree? Prove 'em wrong.

Bad reviews can become your business’s second chance to correct blind spots, if you read them and make adjustments. 70% of your customers who complain will give you a second chance if their issue is resolved.

What does all this mean for your small business?

Online reputation management is a new normal, especially in a time when ¾ consumers use mobile “near me” searches to discover businesses. Storefronts are now digital, and a key part of digital storefronts are reviews.

“Review sites are at the epicenter of “near me” searches.” - Forbes

That’s why a review rate of just 0.1 stars can boost online conversion rates by 25%—which can also translate to a 25% increase in foot traffic, as well as more:

  • Phone calls
  • Website clicks
  • Requests for online directions to the business’s location

Businesses that don’t take advantage of these potential ROIs will ultimately be at a severe disadvantage to the businesses that do.

Remember, 72% of people won’t take a next step with your business until they’ve read your reviews.

Your customers want to leave you reviews.

Aside from traditional advertising falling out of favor with consumers, businesses like yours emphasize reviews because it’s incredibly easy to gather them.

70% of consumers say they’re willing to leave a company a review if they just ask directly, while 76% of the people asked actually go on to leave a review. That means that if you ask 100 customers for reviews, you can expect to earn about 53 online reviews—which is a ridiculous return for your efforts!

The value from online reviews is essentially instant, free, and will give you the positive results outlined in this post, including:

  • Increased online visibility
  • Increased sales
  • Increased leads
  • Increased conversions

The extent of these results will depend on how you develop your own review generation tactics, as well prioritize online reputation management across your business. 97% of companies say they are already prioritizing their online reputation for the same reasons.

Related: How to Get More 5-Star Online Reviews