So, what’s the big deal about business reviews and why does online reputation matter so much?
88% of consumers take online reviews into account when making buying decisions. Businesses are told to get more reviews on review websites to attract new customers. And, as consumers, we are constantly being asked to leave a review for almost every transaction we complete. Your business’s online reputation needs to be backed by reviews and ratings by consumers. Without them, there would be no reputation to manage, and quite frankly, it would appear as if no one ever visited your business.
Ready or Not, Consumers are Talking about You
Whether your business chooses to manage its reputation online or not, consumers are talking about their favorite and not-so-favorite businesses. If ignored, the consequences can be detrimental.
Businesses are often afraid to manage customer reviews on business review sites as they don’t want to end up in one of these situations:
- receiving zero business reviews
- receiving zero recent online business reviews
- receiving negative online business reviews
- or the business has unmanaged online reviews across multiple business review websites
Unfortunately, these businesses are missing out and hurting their business through inaction, as reputation drives conversion. Want to learn more about reputation management?
Unmanaged negative responses can create an angry mob mentality, and bad word of mouth spreads like wildfire. While a business may not realize how exactly one instance can affect its online reputation, it is possible that only one negative post on a highly ranked site can be what shows up near the top of a search results page when a consumer searches for your business.
Consumers Control the Conversation and Everyone’s Feedback Matters
Social media is a two-way conversation — businesses can no longer broadcast the message they want people to see without minding interaction with their followers and consumers.
Social media has a democratic nature; brands, consumers, and every user have an equal voice in a shared space. Customers can rave about a business or tell everyone they had a terrible experience.
Social networks have dramatically changed the way companies communicate to and with their consumers. Today, consumers can converse with brands and vice versa as if they were talking to a friend. As a result, businesses have had to become more personable than simply a business entity and manage their social presence to reflect as such.
Reputation Drives Conversion
What people see and read online matters. Approximately 74% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations—this is a massive shift in thinking that has become more prominent as time goes on. This trust in reviews translates to dollars, as customers put their money where their trust is. A Harvard Business School study found that a restaurant that gains a one-star increase on Yelp will see revenues increase anywhere from five to nine percent.
Many businesses find that cultivating their digital profile on their own is too time-consuming. Reputation monitoring tools make keeping up with customers way more accessible, saving time and money. Whatever your business does, you mustn’t be perceived to be ignoring your customers online. The worst thing your business can do is appear unresponsive.
What makes a Good Online Reputation?
Being present, listed online, and having a good reputation (reviews and reputation management) go hand in hand. Not being listed on a reference site customers use is just as bad as having bad reviews. Building a consistent online presence and a positive reputation is vital for consumers and search engines. Some of the most important aspects of the online footprint include:
- number of business listings
- consistency of business listing information (name, address, phone)
- overall sentiment in reviews
- frequency or current velocity of new reviews
- the overall volume of reviews
- social activity and engagement (especially with reviewers)
Customers now view social recommendations and reviews as more authentic, expecting reviews to mirror the actual customer experience that they would experience themselves. This means that maintaining your business’s online reputation is gaining importance as each review is a perceived snippet of what your potential customer expects to experience.
Online Reputation Management: The Main Sell
According to Google, 9 out of 10 local searches lead to action, with more than 50% leading to sales. If businesses have a good web presence, customers will go to them rather than competitors. Once they’re in the store, 79% of customers use their smartphones inside to look at reviews or compare prices, and 74% end up making a purchase. 88% of online shoppers consider reviews when making a buying decision. Those numbers alone make the opportunity clear: online reputation management is essential for your business to get consumers in the door to make the sale.