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Online Reviews: A Make or Break for Small Businesses

Online Reviews: A Make or Break for Small Businesses

June 3, 2021

In 2021’s digital landscape, 93% of customers will read reviews before closing on a purchase of a product or service, and additionally, 94% of purchases are made on products with a 4-star rating or higher. Put simply, online reviews have become the new word-of-mouth advertising. Consumers are no longer limited to physical word-of-mouth because after finding a product online, with the simple click of a button, they can access hundreds or thousands of reviews at their fingertips. But how do online reviews affect other aspects of digital marketing and what can your company do to ensure both a high quality and quantity of reviews? 


How Do Online Reviews Impact Other Digital Marketing Efforts?


In the world of digital marketing, everything is interdependent and interconnected. A company can have great on and off page SEO, but if the website doesn’t appear trustworthy, a customer may click away before even viewing any products. Like everything else, however, this also works the other way around; Online reviews are a fantastic tool to draw customers in and ease people’s presuppositions about your company’s product or service.


These are often one of the first things a consumer sees when searching for a business. The impact that reviews can have on local SEO efforts is particularly noteworthy; When a person Googles, for example, “restaurants near me,” a list of restaurants will appear, with their aggregate customer rating right below them. This is a way for potential consumers to instantly compare businesses against each other and is an important barrier to customer interaction. The process actually runs deeper, however, because if your business’ online reviews are too low, Google may push your company to the second or third page of recommendations. This is a huge problem considering 95% of all internet traffic comes only from the first page on search engines and recommendation pages. 


In short, if your company’s online reviews are not up to par with the higher level, new-age standard, it could thwart any of your other digital marketing efforts.


What Can a Business Do to Ensure High Quality and Quantity of Reviews


As mentioned before, 94% of purchases are made on products and services with a 4-star rating or higher. High quality reviews are absolutely critical, but what can a business do to guarantee these? 


Make it Easy for Customers to Leave a Review

If a customer who had a good experience can’t easily find a place to write a review, whether that be on Google, Yelp, or your company’s website, they simply won’t go through the trouble. The easiest way to ensure customer reviews is to remove as many barriers as possible for them to write one. This could be done by placing reviews front and center on your website, sending out post-purchase emails with a link for the customer to write them. Obviously, the best way to get a good review is to provide such a stellar product or experience that your customer is motivated to actively seek out the prompt.


Don’t Be Afraid To Ask

There is no shame in asking customers to write reviews for your business! Especially if you are a smaller business just getting started, it’s always a good idea to ask people to write reviews in follow-up emails, or after a consultation. Another important thing to remember is that the quantity of reviews is just as important as quality of reviews. In fact, 61% of people said that the quantity of reviews was an important factor in their consideration to conduct business. If a business has one 5-star review, a consumer may think that it was a lucky, one-off experience. If they have consistently good ratings, however, people can assume that they will have a good experience as well. Once your company gets its first few positive reviews, more and more will start to come in as business picks up. 


Respond to Reviews Whether Good or Bad

Anywhere that people are leaving reviews, there’s a place for you to respond to them. Google and third party review websites, like Yelp and Angie’s List, have places where a business owner can directly respond to reviews left. This allows better insight into why a review was as high or low as it was and makes it easier for your company to keep doing things right or change what was done wrong. It also shows people reading reviews that the company they are looking to engage with cares about it’s customers’ experiences. 


The Observed Impact of Online Reviews


Good reviews offer a reason for a consumer to trust your company before even making a purchase. This means that buyers are not only more likely to make a purchase in the first place but also to make larger ones. A company with favorable reviews will see an increase of 18% in sales with little to no cost to the company making it a great ROI. Reviews can also just as easily work with digital marketing efforts as they can against them. With a good website, SEO, and reviews, there isn’t any reason for a customer to click away. 


So, don’t underestimate the power of social proof, and do your best to generate as many good reviews as you can.


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