In today’s digitally dominated culture where social networks reign supreme, customer reviews play an increasingly integral role in helping retailers build successful brands and grow their businesses.

According to Clymb, 90% of customers admit that their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. With that kind of impact, it’s not surprising to learn that online reviews have the power to make or break businesses, especially those in the service industry.

Since we’re all about helping you thrive, we’ve come up with 5 ways online reviews can contribute to the success of your business:

Online Reviews Build Trust in Your Brand

As Bright Local points out, “A positive reputation is one of the most powerful marketing assets a business has to convince new customers to contact them.”

Bright Local’s 2016 Consumer Review Survey revealed that 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more. It makes sense when you consider that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Positive word-of-mouth persuades consumers to contact or visit your establishment, which is especially beneficial if you’re a small retail store or you’re just starting out as a new business. To demonstrate how this might happen, imagine that you’re a consumer who moves to a new location and needs to find a family physician. When you conduct an online search for physicians in the area, five results come up. The first result has about ten 4 and 5-star reviews.The second through fourth results have about half the reviews as the first, but they’re half-decent recommendations. The fifth result has zero reviews.

Which physician would you choose?

Like most people, you’d probably go with the first physician who had ten positive reviews. Even if the third search result was actually the better physician of the five, you would have no way of knowing that so you’d go elsewhere for your healthcare needs. This means that the “best” physician would lose out on your business as a result of insufficient online reviews.

As you can see, consumer reviews play a big role in forming opinions that can build trust in your business and influence behavior that will contribute to your brand’s success.

Online Reviews Provide Free Advertising

Traditional forms of advertising can be pricey, making it difficult for small or new businesses to take advantage of marketing options such as TV, print, and billboards, etc.

If you feel like you’re in that boat, take heart. Online reviews can function as free “ads” that promote your business and persuade customers to choose you over your competitors.

Simply set up an easy and convenient way for your customers to leave online reviews about your brand, and they can market your business for you!

Online Reviews Help You Better Cater to Your Customers

In order to successfully market your products of services, you need to know the thoughts and behaviors that drive your customers’ purchasing decisions.This data is the key to offering a product or service that your customers will actually want to buy.

As it happens, business owners often assume they already know what their customers want. Owner’s of a furniture store, for example, may assume their customers’ desire to purchase a new dining room table means nothing more than having a place for the family to eat. Meanwhile, the customer may be visualizing the new dining table as a means of creating family bonding experiences and togetherness.

Online reviews provide you with a means to learn the mind of your customers so you can stay in tune with their thoughts and feelings and establish a personal connection with them. This, in turn, will help you engage them more effectively and persuade them to buy from you.

Reviews Increase Online Visibility

In addition to helping you build a reputable brand, get some free advertising, and learn how to better cater to customers, great reviews can also help your SEO campaign efforts, suggests Search Engine People.

As of 2015, consumer reviews accounted for 8.4% of what search engines use when ranking search results. Because SEO determines which businesses your customers see first when they search online for specific products or services, investing some time and effort into online review management is a worthwhile goal when it comes to improving your SEO status.

To show how online reviews affect SEO, take a look at a Google search for “lawyers in Provo, UT.”  

As you can see, the top three search results have a perfect (or nearly perfect) star rating. Customers wanting to see more results would have to click another button to see additional business names beyond the top three.

The thing is, most customers won’t go to the trouble. So it’s imperative that your business shows up as close to the top of the results as possible.

Increasing and managing reviews is a smart move when you’re looking to improve SEO and make it easier for customers to find your business online.

 

Increase Your Revenue

“User reviews are proven sales drivers,” says Econsultancy, “and something the majority of customers will want to see before deciding to make a purchase.”

“Quite simply, user reviews increase conversions. They can eliminate any doubts potential customers may have about a product, or can help product selection.”

 

Source: Econsultancy 

Econsultancy also offers the following statistics on the value of online reviews in improving conversion rates:

  • 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews
  • Reevoo statistics indicate that 50 or more reviews per product can mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates
  • According to Reevoo, on average, reviews produce an 18% uplift in sales

“This benefit is pretty straightforward,” states Clymb, “more positive reviews = more customers coming to your business = more revenue in your pocket.”

Conclusion

With 61% of customers reading online reviews before making a purchase decision, “[Reviews] are now essential for e-commerce sites,” says Econsultancy. But reviews aren’t just for online purchases only. More and more consumers are researching businesses online before heading to the store.

Whether your business is strictly online or you have a physical store location, positive reviews are a powerful tool in helping your business:

  • build relationships of trust
  • advertise your brand for free
  • improve your customers’ experience
  • increase your online visibility
  • boost your revenue.

As Bright Local puts it, “The growing quantity of online reviews and review sites covering more industries and services, provides huge benefits to both consumers and the businesses that fully embrace reputation marketing.”

About Author

Sherene Funk

Sherene Funk is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime (but that doesn't stop her from collecting more). A graduate of Brigham Young University, she has published several humorous non-fiction articles and worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current position as a writer on modern retailing at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with other small business owners through informative articles that address their unique needs.

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