Online reviews. They can be a bonus or bane for many local businesses, but in the end they simply cannot be avoided. Today’s consumer is educated and informed unlike any before, and to not secure reviews on directories, social networks, and other online resources is like leaving your chips off the table. If you’re not on the game, you can’t be competitive, and if you’re not competitive you most certainly won’t win. But we know, you’re still wary of opening up your business to public opinion, which is why we’re here with insight into why it is essential to secure online reviews, no matter what it is that your company offers.
It’s unfortunate that we live in a world of mistrust, but alas we do, and that means the Testimonials tab on your website’s primary navigation is basically like a paperweight on your desk. Does it look cool? Sure. Is it necessary? Maybe, because Google likes it. But in the end it’s nothing more that a decoration.
Online reviews however, hold real weight with prospective customers and clients. They know that for the most part, reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and industry directories are harder to fake. Reviewer profiles can be verified and vetted by both the review resource and by users.
Does your business run a risk by putting itself out there for customer/client review? It can, if you don’t provide great products/services, but lets assume that you do. Instead, consumers today are more suspicious of business that don’t put themselves out there online for public scrutiny. And don’t worry, even if a malicious competitor or never-satisfied-with-anything consumer slanders your business the general public is pretty good at reading between the lines. A few bad reviews (slanderous or not) won’t dissuade prospective customers/clients when you have earned a 4-5 star aggregate score.
It goes without saying that Google’s search engine loves Google Reviews. There is a direct correlation between the Google’s Map Pack (the lifeblood of rank for local businesses) and Google Reviews. By what percentage? Google doesn’t share this information, but SEO media experts state anywhere between 5 and 30 percent. As a local business, you’ll take it.
Google search engine algorithms look not just at positive review scores, but also the outright number of reviews, and whether or not the reviewers provided rich text (i.e. they took the time to write a few sentences). The algorithms also look at the timing to gauge whether or not the reviews are natural, or fake. For instance, getting 100 reviews in the span of one week could be considered suspect, and deemed to be an attempt to “game the system” which will render the effort useless. Instead, Google expects the reviews to roll in naturally, so avoid those spam emails promising to get you dozens or more Google Reviews in a short amount of time.
Google algorithms also consider consistency between Google Reviews and other business directory reviews. In other words, if a 4-5 star aggregate score on Google Reviews generally matches that of Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor and/or other applicable popular directories (for your industry) and review resources, the more valid this big picture seems and the better it can be for rank.
Of course, the algorithm is devised in this manner because consumers behave the same way. More on this below.
Again, consumers aren’t all that trusting. They’ve been burned many times, which is why they are using the numerous tools available to them to vet your business and validate your claims. Like the aforementioned algorithms, they look at numerous review resources to make their final purchase decision. When they see a consistently positive score on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and other resources they become reassured that your business is the place to spend their money.
That means in addition to providing great products/services, you must make sure your business listing is established and claimed on every relevant (to your consumer base) directory, and ensure that both current and prospective customers know you’re there.
After I have finished watching a new episode of Game of Thrones, the first thing I do is hop online to see what others had to say about it, no matter how much I loved it. In fact, the more I liked it, the more I want to see others opinions. Perhaps I do so to validate my own opinion. But when I see the same excitement over an episode I’m more likely to chime and join the party with my own two-cents.
Now we can’t quite compare a local business offering to GoT (I mean, c’mon) but the same relative behavior occurs when it comes to local business reviews. When someone had a great experience with your product/service, there’s a good chance that they’ll go online and compare their positive experience to that of others. Then, upon validation they too may pen their own review, and add to the growing pile of 4-5 stars. However, if they go online and find nothing but crickets, they are more likely to close their laptop or hit the home button on their smartphone and go on about their business, leaving yours without the deserved accolades.
This one applies to local retailers. Numerous studies show that today’s consumer uses their smartphone to make a purchase decision on the spot. One popular study found that among the 90% of consumers who use their smartphones while shopping in retail stores, 42% of them do so to reference reviews prior to purchase. If few or none are found, they may walk away and you will be left behind the shop counter, never knowing why. Give customers want they want, and make sure your business makes itself readily available to receive online reviews.
OK, so you admit to the necessity of online reviews, but remain on the fence about being more proactive because of the effort required to claim your business on relevant directories and manage the reviews that may come soon after. After all, reviews both good and bad require responses and you also want to show an ROI, especially when it may cost you to claim your local business listing. Thankfully you’ve come to the right place.
Digital Marketing Collective leverages highly specialized software that can manage the entire review process. With our dedicated tools, we automate a process that connects (via email and/or SMS) to recent customers/clients, providing them with a seamless and non-obtrusive way to leave a review for your business so that you will systematically generate high quality reviews from real satisfied customers/clients, and secure more business because of it. Contact Digital Marketing Collective today to learn more about how it works, and what we can do for you.
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