Unless your business is one of the 437 large corporations in Alberta, chances are, you own and operate a small business. After all, 165,792 small businesses — accounting for 97.92% of all businesses in the province — call it home. For reference, there are also 3,076 medium-size enterprises here.
Although this doesn’t mean you compete with all of them, it should tell you that competition is tough and you need to take advantage of online reviews. Why? For one, because as many as 88% of consumers put trust on these reviews as they do on personal recommendations.
This is only one of the many other statistics highlighting the importance and impact of online business reviews. Worry not, as we’ll share with you the most important in this post, together with strategies on how to make these reviews work for, and not against, you.
What Online Reviews Are All About
To understand how big an impact online reviews have on your audience and your brand, you first need to grasp what these comments or testimonials are all about.
At their core, these reviews are the digital version of “word of mouth”. They’re much like referrals, recommendations, and complaints. The only difference is they’re online.
These user reviews may be as short as one sentence, even a single word. But they can already make or break potential sales a lot of the time.
Think of how a word as simple as “amazing” or “awesome” can make the consumer feel. Reading any of these words, won’t it make you feel assured about a product or a service? In all likelihood, it will, and it may just be the deal-breaker for you to whip your credit card out.
On the other hand, reading something like “WORST!” or “NEVER BUYING AGAIN!” can make anyone close their tab… only to open a new one to check out similar products from other brands.
There’s so much power that consumers place in both bad and good reviews. This is one of the reasons studies found that four-fifths of consumers conduct online research before shelling out money on a product or service. Because they know their research will yield reviews, which they can use to gauge whether they’ll push through with the purchase or not.
The Modern Path Word of Mouth Takes
Consider this: In the United States, more than 80% of consumers first ask for business referrals and recommendations prior to making any buying decision. The same goes true for Canadians. In fact, we Canucks are more trusting, particularly of our news media.
As such, when they see a recommendation online, they’re more likely to give that product or service a try. On the other hand, if they read something bad about a brand, chances are, they’ll keep away from its offers.
Search Engines and Product/Service Reviews: The Connection
More than half of consumers (60%) use a search engine to look up products or services. And before finalizing their decision, 61% will first find out what others have to say.
Now, add to that the fact that 89.9% of Canada’s population use the Internet. From here, you can already see how important it is for your brand to appear online. And of course, have people say positive things about it.
Appearing on search engines means utilizing strategies like search engine optimization, local SEO in particular, as well as search engine marketing. Combine this with efficiently-managed online reviews, and you’ll see a considerable difference in your sales. And we mean an increase in sales and revenues.
The keyword here is “efficiently-managed,” because if you ignore the negative reviews and respond only to the good ones, your entire SEO campaign will suffer. In fact, your brand will take a hit, since consumers will think that you don’t value every customer experience and feedback. As hard as it is to respond to bad reviews, they’re actually those that need a prompter response to.
Here’s a quick and dirty tip: If you see a 3 or 4-star review, don’t just thank the person for leaving the review, ask them how you could have made it a 5-star and address the issue so that you can get that 5-star rating! How you solve problems is often just as important, or more important, than a primary interaction.
In a nutshell, active monitoring and quick response to reviews help you influence your audience’s buying decisions. From here, you can then transform your online reputation into an invaluable marketing and loyalty-retaining asset.
Reviews Shouldn’t Scare You
No matter how amazing your products and/or services are, you’ll always encounter hard-to-please customers. Since you can’t please everyone, you always have to be on your toes when it comes to negative reviews.
That’s totally fine though! Balanced reviews can also do wonders in increasing the legitimacy of your business. Just think of the age-old adage “too good to be true.”
You need to practice utmost consistency in managing your reviews though. Curating emphatic responses to your business reviews will showcase how you care about your customers. It’ll let both existing and potential clients know that you value their feedback.
Of course, you want to always strive hard to deliver excellent products and services, as this keeps them negative reviews at bay in the first place. With good reviews significantly outweighing the bad ones, your prospective customers will find it easier to locate your business.
Don’t Forget to Say Thank You To Everyone
Here’s one last thing to keep in mind: 83% of satisfied customers say they are willing to provide referrals. At the end of the day though, only 29% of them do. So why not increase their likelihood of doing so?
With a simple display of gratitude (yes, even just a thank you!) can already increase your chances of having customers recommend you. This also means an increased likelihood of them leaving you good online reviews. Rewards — like points, discounts, and freebies — can also help you raise your chances of getting better reviews.
In a nutshell, every customer transaction is an opportunity to get positive reviews. So, take advantage of that and make each customer feel that you are worthy of good reviews.
Want more articles like this that’ll help you improve your online reputation? Then please feel free to head to our blog! Thank you 😉