Why Reviews are All Powerful for Local Businesses

Genuine Reviews Of Your Business Can Dramatically Increase Your Bottom Line

The modern Internet has dramatically changed the way businesses interact with their customers. At the heart of this change has been a seismic shift away from companies holding the power towards consumers being more in control of a company’s fortunes. The key factor that has put consumers in charge is the ability to write a good or bad review about their experience online. The truth is that online reviews are now capable of making or breaking companies, especially smaller local businesses. In a catchment area of a few tens of thousands, just a handful of bad reviews online can sink a local business. Especially if that business has a patchy reputation by word of mouth as well, even without understanding the reasons, revenue streams can dry up without warning. So it’s absolutely vital to understand that reviews of your business can be so powerful that they have the ability to destroy your hard work. But it’s not all doom and gloom, and in this article we are also going to speak about how you can turn even bad reviews to your advantage.

The Key Reason Why Reviews Are Now All Powerful

Google has put reviews at the heart of many of its search features, including local search. People can submit user reviews directly on Google, or via trusted review sites. These reviews can then be embedded directly into search results, or be shown as a star rating. In this age of instant decision-making, a low star rating could be the difference between somebody clicking through to your business website or moving on. At the other end of that scale, appearing at the top of a local search result, with a high star rating can really make your listing stand out and encourage a far higher click through rate than your competitors. On top of that, if somebody is considering making a purchase from you they may well search for your business online to see what other people have said as part of their buying decision. If the first page of results is littered with poor reviews and poor experiences, then you could hardly blame them for looking elsewhere. At the heart of this is trust. Robert Cialdini, in his highly regarded book on the psychology of selling, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, found that trust was central to a positive buying decision. One of the key elements of building this trust was what is known as “social proof”. Reviews are a classic example of social proof. If other people have had a great experience, or a bad experience, it will influence our opinion on the experience we are likely to have. Indeed many companies have generally good or bad reputations amongst the general public when most of those people with an opinion have never even used them! So reviews are not just about praising or slating. They also subtly tap into our psyche around trading, something human beings have developed is a skill over thousands of years.

Why Positive Reviews Are Essential… And It’s Not Why You Think.

Obviously positive review can influence somebody into being more favorable about making a buying decision. But what is less obvious is how people interacting with websites can influence how you are viewed. People tend to look for extremes. On a review site they will probably first look at the positive reviews and then at the negative reviews. All those middle-of-the-road three star reviews usually get overlooked. Rather than just doing all right, you need to make sure that you have as many fantastic reviews as possible, and as few bad reviews as possible. Although your business may be doing really well and providing a good level of customer service, if you haven’t got some really great reviews, you can ignored in favor of a company with worse service levels but which has more high rated reviews.

Reviews Can Potentially Affect Your Organic Search Ranking

Although Bing and Google have never officially confirmed this, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence from within the search industry to suggest that it is likely that reviews affect rankings, especially local search results. For example, Digital Marketing Works analyzed the hotel industry in 2013. They found a strong correlation between reviews grades and search result positions. [source] In 2014, respected search marketing company MOZ undertook a survey of industry specialists around local search ranking factors. When all of the factors are looked at as a whole, the majority of specialists agreed that review signals, such as quantity, diversity and velocity (the frequency they are occurring), were significant local ranking factors. [source] It seems to be the case for not only do you need to work hard to please customers, but you need to also be working hard to get them to leave reviews in order to positively affect your local search visibility.

Three Quick Wins To Power Up Your Online Reviews

You may be concerned about whether it is acceptable to ask your customers to leave reviews online. But this fear should be far outweighed by the fear of your business suffering due to negative reviews. Here are three easy ways you can get more and better reviews: 1. Ask your customer to leave a review in a follow-up email after the purchase is made. This will allow them time to digest their purchase and it is also a softer way of asking. 2. Consider using video reviews. If you can get somebody articulate and genuine to create a positive video review then this can be a real bonus. Video is far more likely to positively influence a viewer than writing, due to seen the positive human emotions on display. If you can get positive video reviews front and center on your site then it can have a great effect on conversions. 3. Embed a live reviews feed into your website. People are skeptical of reviews that do not lead anywhere, as they can be easily faked. But if you allow them to click through to a genuine review site they not only will they gain trust, but it also encourages them to leave their own review.

And Finally, When It Comes To Winning The Reviews War…

… Don’t be afraid of negative reviews! Negative reviews usually contain the truth. Look at them dispassionately and learn the lesson they offer you. Try approaching that customer and ask them how you can make things right. If you can successfully turn their negative experience into a positive one, not only are they likely to buy from you again, but the situation can create positive marketing opportunities. For example, you could write a blog post about how your service was unacceptable and how you approach the customer to put it right. If they were really pleased and left a positive review, that can be used to create an uplifting end to the story.

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