Online reviews have never been more important for local businesses than they are today.
In a competitive marketplace, differentiating your brand from industry rivals is critical to your success and growth. Creative marketing campaigns and an active social media presence allow you to tell your story and connect with customers, but at the end of the day customers want to know what their peers think before they make a decision - and that’s exactly where online reviews shine. A recent study from Igniyte found that a staggering 91% of consumers in the UK trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and that number has only increased in recent years.
Here’s a few reasons why you should be thinking about online reviews as you grow your business in 2021:
1. Customers trust online reviews, and rely on them
It’s simple; your customers care about reviews, so you should too. BrightLocal’s 2020 Local Consumer Review Survey found that 87% of consumers read online reviews when searching for a local business, and that a majority won’t even consider a business if it has less than 4 stars. In an increasingly digital world, online reviews have all but replaced word-of-mouth recommendations, and they’re far easier to find. From large platforms like Google and Facebook, to industry-specific sites like TrustATrader, it’s never been easier to get a second opinion before making a purchase. If you want to stay competitive, and we know you do, getting frequent reviews from happy customers should be top of mind.
2. Online reviews help you understand customer expectations
Review sites provide consumers with a way to share their experience, good or bad, with their community. The more reviews you get, the better you will understand your customers and the expectations they have of you. They can help you make decisions, notify you of issues that your customers perceive, and keep you aware of improvements that you could be making to better compete with your industry peers . Reviews also give you a forum to turn feedback into a conversation, allowing you to reinforce positive reviews with a quick ‘thank you!’, and to address poor reviews in a way that shows, publicly, that you care.
3. Online reviews increase your visibility online
Most consumers will head straight to their favorite search engine when trying to find a business that fits their needs. BriteLocal’s 2020 Local Consumer Review Survey found that 93% of consumers used the internet in the past year to find a local business, and that 34% use it on a daily basis. Where you appear in an online search is a major factor in determining whether or not potential customers will consider (or even hear about) your business. While these sites all have their own unique way of ranking and surfacing content, fresh reviews always come into play - for example, according to MOZ, reviews make up about 13% of how companies are ranked on Google search. More visibility means more customers - it’s that simple.
4. Good online reviews are free marketing
No matter how creative your marketing strategy is, at the end of the day you’re only telling one side of the story. As honest and transparent as you might be with your customers, trust is not easily gained. Consumers are far more likely to trust their peers, which is why online reviews are such a valuable marketing tool - they turn regular customers into unbiased brand advocates. There is no single winning strategy for growing your business, but at the end of the day your customers want a brand they can trust, and unbiased online reviews are the quickest and easiest way to establish that trust.
5. More Online Reviews = More Sales
At the end of the day, sales are what drives growth. With so many consumers relying on reviews to tell them which businesses to trust, the relationship between reviews and sales cannot be ignored. A Harvard Business School study found that a one-star increase in Yelp rating can lead to a 5-9% increase in revenue! There are a lot of factors that come into play, but ultimately you should be striving for frequent, positive reviews so that potential customers can quickly conclude that a lot of people rely on you, and that they generally agree you’re doing a great job.
Hopefully by now you agree that there are plenty of benefits to getting reviews; now you just need your customers to take the time to provide them. Leaving an online review takes time and effort, and most customers won’t bother - after all, people are busy. Anything that you can do to remove barriers from the process increases their chances of doing so - and that’s exactly what we’re here for!