Part 1 of 3: Why Online Business Reviews Are So Important

We get this question a lot: Do online reviews matter?

Consider this game-changer: 88% of consumers said they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to a recent study by BrightLocal, published on SearchEngineJournal.com.

Globally, consumer research giant Nielsen reports that the most trusted medium are Consumer Opinions Posted Online at 66%, but it’s also the medium that drives the most action at 69%.

If you’ve followed our coverage of how digital has changed business, then you know we’re big proponents of explaining the Zero Moment of Truth – the level of online research consumers conduct through every stage of the purchase cycle. Online reviews now represent the Ultimate Moment of Truth according to social media expert Brian Solis.

Still wondering if online reviews matter?

Online reviews are the new word-of-mouth. They’ve become the new standard for marketing your businesses, and one that can’t be ignored. As nationally recognized social media expert Brian Solis says, “Welcome to the new era of marketing and service in which your brand is defined by those who experience it.”

Consider these five key reasons why online reviews are so important to the success of your business:

  1. Increased Sales – People are ALWAYS much more inclined to purchase a product or use a service that has been highly recommended.
  1. Higher Rankings – The more online reviews you have, the higher your business is on search engines like Google, Yelp, Facebook and others. The more that is written about your business, the better. In our work across industries in Omaha, and with our partner papers in Charleston (SC), Memphis (TN) and Boise (ID), we’re seeing reviews being a top driver of Google’s Local Stack search results.
  1. Increased Loyalty – When your customers have a voice and take time to leave a review online, they feel a certain loyalty to that business. Feedback establishes a relationship that keeps customers coming back.
  1. Free Marketing – A few positive reviews online are extremely valuable. These are mini-marketing campaigns that never end. They live online long after the review has been posted, so they give a constant positive image in the long term.
  1. Understanding Your Customers – The better you know your customers, the better you can serve them. Good reviews are gold, but not-so-good reviews are valuable, too. Not only can online reviews let you know what your business is doing right, they can also tell you what your business is doing wrong.

The future is now

It’s obvious that in today’s competitive marketplace, consumers search out reviews to help them make better decisions. They want answers to questions like: Is this car dealer fair? Will this product last? How long has this business been around?

And it’s even better if they hear the answers from their friends. That’s why Google and other search engines are beginning to highlight the reviews of your friends in search results when you are logged in. They know you value information most from people you know and trust.

Numbers to consider

Positive online reviews generate more sales. Obvious, right? But just how much more sales? A recent study by Web Republic shows that products with positive reviews sold 200% more than products with no reviews.

Furthermore, Web Republic’s research shows that 28% of American consumers have written an online review, while 84% of all consumers read online reviews, and 72% of all consumers trust online reviews.

Bottom line

If your business provides a product or service, getting online reviews should be a priority. Reviews from your customers are important – make that, VERY important. Can they make or break the success of a single business? In 2016, yes. Yes, they can.

Love them or loath them, review websites are here to stay. If you want your business to gain an edge then you need to embrace online reviews.

Getting started

So you’re ready to take online reviews seriously? Great. Your business just got better. The next step is doing the things necessary to encourage satisfied customers to leave you positive reviews.

Next week, in the second installment of this three-part series, we will focus on ways to generate more online reviews for your business.

If you want to get started today, give Dinah Gomez a call (402-341-7323 or dinah@thereader.com) and she’ll get your business on the fast-track to getting positive reviews and found online.