How Important Are Online Reviews in 2021?

In the competitive landscape of the internet, businesses are often assessed within one minute or less. A strong online reputation can make the difference between acquiring a new customer or losing a prospective one. The online conversation about your business is one that is highly regarded by potential customers, often more so than direct advertising. The graphic to the right details that 92% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase decision, and 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. People put a lot of stock in these reviews, and so should you. Online reviews increase organic website traffic, online conversion and overall revenue.

Reviews are considered user generated content. The words used within these reviews help to boost your search rankings. If a customer knows what type of service or product they are looking for, their search of related keywords will likely bring them to several options, and often, the business with the best overall online reputation is the one who wins the customer.

Furthermore, 68% of consumers trust review profiles that incorporate good and bad reviews, and 44% only consider reviews written within the previous month. This speaks to the mindset of the modern day consumer: online reviews are valued because they are an aggregate of genuine shared experiences from their peers, rather than a biased, seemingly contrived advertisement directly from the business. So it is not only the rating of your business, but the validity and quality of what’s being said about you that counts.

Factors of a Strong Online Reputation

A robust online reputation is a vital part of an effective, modern-day marketing plan. Consumers are looking for an authentic, relatable ‘story’ about your business, told by your customers. These are some of the most important elements to keep in mind:

1. A Strong (But Not Necessarily Perfect) Star Rating

It is ideal to strive for a 5-star rating, but a healthy mix of good and bad genuine reviews actually prove to be more appealing to consumers. 94% of consumers say they would use a business with a 4-star rating. A study from Northwestern University showed the following:

Customers are actually more likely to trust a 4.2 – 4.5 star rating as an accurate representation of your business than a perfect 5 star rating. Strive for the best possible ratings with every customer interaction, but don’t fret over a less than perfect score. Focus on consistent positive customer interactions, and be proactive about responding to negative reviews.

2. Frequency of Reviews

While a large portion of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase decision, only 6% actually write reviews. Why? Often times they forget, or the business owners simply do not ask. The more reviews you have consistently over time, the stronger your online reputation will be. It is important to ask for these reviews at the right time, and in the right way. Make sure to engage with your customers at the most critical time – the point of sale. By asking for reviews at the point of sale, you are more likely to get robust customer feedback, while the experience and sentiment is still fresh in the customer’s mind. The SimplyReview.Us app allows you to easily send a text message to your customer, prompting a review, while the sentiment of your business is fresh in their mind. Positive feedback is directed to any one of your review sites, and as we know, more reviews = more customers.

If a customer has negative feedback, they are directed to a private form, which is sent directly to you via email. The customer is
able to voice their concerns, and you are able to address them in a timely, direct manner, that provides the opportunity to make a negative experience a positive one. Receiving this feedback privately is a great tool in preventing negative reviews from going public and negatively affecting your review profiles.

By taking this approach to review generation, you are interacting with the customer in real-time. You are able to be made aware of, assess and correct any negative experiences privately – making it more likely to yield a happy customer.  Most importantly, you are pushing positive experiences onto important review sites. Each testimonial adds to the overall story of your brand, creating a clearer picture of what your business can offer to potential customers. You are building your online reputation through accounts of the actual experiences of your happy customers.

3.  Quality of Reviews

When it comes to your review profiles, it’s not just the rating that counts, the content that supports it is crucial .If, for example, your business has all 5-star ratings, with little written about the actual experience or product, these reviews may not seem genuine to potential customers, which can deter them from choosing to patronize your business.

When consumers detail their experience with your business, it gives the potential customer a clearer idea of what their overall experience with you may be. Another important consideration is that the more keywords customers use pertaining to your business, the higher your ranking will be on search engines.

4. Negative Reviews Can Make a Positive Impact

A perfect 5 star rating can leave customers with a sentiment of “yeah right”. In fact, 82% of customers seek out negative reviews. They do this to determine what problems they will face, and to see if the complaints about your business are one-time mishaps or recurring issues.

Even with built-in method to prevent negative public reviews, you will receive negative feedback on your review profiles eventually. Take this opportunity to turn a negative customer experience into a positive one. Make sure to respond to all negative reviews. It is important to respond in a timely, professional and constructive manner. Often, it can be difficult to curate the perfect “voice” in these situations. The SimplyReview.Us Response Wizard takes the guess work out of creating an appropriate response, while still allowing you to tailor your response to the customer. Customers appreciate seeing an active approach to customer service and problem solving.

The SimplyReview.Us app enables you to take a proactive approach to building your online reputation by generating, tracking and responding to reviews seamlessly. Each customer interaction becomes a real-time opportunity for improvement and understanding, or a resounding endorsement. These genuine testimonials will eventually build a collective story about your business that is authentic, relatable and most importantly, relevant to potential customers buying decisions. Invest in the best advertisement out there – invest in your online reputation.