Just How Important Are Online Reviews?
Online Review Sites Are Like Digital Word-of-Mouth
The internet has ushered in a replacement of all old media for the most part. The Yellow Pages have been pushed out by search engines, traditional print publications have moved to websites and mobile platforms, and you no longer have to rely on a road atlas to get from point A to point B in unfamiliar territory.
Now, word-of-mouth is very much so still the same as it was. But there’s an additional component of this that goes beyond a short conversation with a friend at a cookout. There is a lot which goes into a person’s purchasing decision. Online reviews help you to nudge a potential customer into a headspace where they feel confident about using your product or service.
As a business owner, you want to make sure that you’ve taken every opportunity to convince a prospect that your product is the one they should choose to spend their money on. But in the world of faceless digital marketing, how do you rise above the noise and carve a path for them?
The answer is digital personal recommendations — also known as online reviews.
Who Reads Online Reviews? It’s Who Writes Them!
Your reviews are where people go to see what other people are saying. That seems a little obvious, right? But what about the news stories about fake reviews? Well, the truth is, there are fake reviews out there.
The thing is, people know this, but they also know that there are real and legitimate ones as well. And the younger your target customers are, the more likely they are to read and be influenced by them. This shouldn’t be surprising, considering that 80% of 18–34 year olds have written online reviews themselves.
The people who write them are very likely to trust them. Indeed, 91% of that same age group trusts online reviews. And, whereas this number drops with older demographics, the social validation of online reviews couldn’t be more important for small businesses.
Are Negative Reviews the Kiss of Death?
Not necessarily. It’s important that you have your star rating as high as possible. This is because, on a very fundamental level, everyone understands that there is an occasional jerk who just cannot be satisfied no matter what.
But the key there is that the proportion of negative reviews is significantly lower. You should aim for 5 star reviews from your customers, but the main goal there is to anticipate this small chunk of never satisfied people, just in case. Ultimately, you should be very happy with your business if it’s getting 4 stars or more.
We have an article that addresses this in more detail here, along with prescriptive advice on how to deal with positive and negative reviews.
Don’t Forget About Social Media Reviews
In this age, Facebook contains reviews as do other social media. And more and more often, your company’s reputation is right there in search options. You cannot hide from this, so make sure to embrace it!
In fact, in a world where people are ultra-sensitive to scams and poor business practices, this is where you yourself must ensure that your business is operating above board. If this isn’t the case, no amount of reputation management is going to save you.
Make sure you’re watching what people are saying and that you are responding to every review that you’re able to, but especially the negative ones.
Ultimately, your online reputation will determine your success. Be proactive about them and you will find that your loyal fans become your most powerful marketing secret!