Anyone who has shopped online knows that reviews can make or break a company. Online reviews are becoming increasingly influential on consumers, with trust in reviews growing by 11 percent each year. According to Google, 80 percent of searchers today do research on a product before buying it.
This means businesses must work harder than ever to keep their customers happy, and positive online reviews can be the key to success! When you own a business, however, receiving positive feedback and exposure is not always easy.
Even the best companies can struggle with how to use and respond to customer testimonials and online feedback from potential customers and competitors. Here we cover everything you need to know about how online customer reviews affect your business: how they work, why they matter, possible ways to get more of them, and strategies for improving your company’s online reputation.
Types of Online Reviews
There are four main types of online reviews and all can be helpful, depending on how they are received. These are:
These are the most common type of online reviews, where customers leave feedback and reviews about a product or service they’ve received. Online businesses can boast plenty of these reviews since people are more likely to leave them if they are satisfied with their purchase.
People often seek out reviews from other customers about products, services, or companies they know. This is known as peer-to-peer review and, again, these reviews are more likely to be positive.
These are written by experts such as bloggers, reviewers, and journalists about a product, service, or company. While these reviews are often positive, they are less often than other types of reviews and are often more critical.
These are reviews about a particular website or blog, rather than the product itself. While a product review on its own is useful, it is even more useful when it relates to the website or blog on which it is posted. This can be critical information for businesses since blogs and websites are often the first places potential customers look.
How Online Reviews Affect Business
Online reviews can have a significant impact on a business’s reputation, sales, and revenue.
Reach More Customers
A study by the Pew Research Center found that 78 percent of consumers look at reviews before buying a product or service. These reviews may not only help customers find the best products but also make better purchasing decisions.
If a customer is having trouble deciding between two products, she may benefit from reviewing the experience with both. By finding problems with both products, the customer can make a more informed decision and avoid wasting money on a product that does not work for her needs.
Customers who are unsure about a product’s reliability may also benefit from seeing what other customers had to say. These review comments may help the customer avoid potential problems with this product.
Online reviews can also improve sales. A study conducted by Forrester Research found that one in five consumers consults online reviews before purchasing a product. If prospective customers are satisfied with the product they receive, they are more likely to keep the product in their homes and refer others to buy it.
When a customer receives a product and reads the reviews, she may discover problems with the product. These negative reviews, combined with positive reviews, help a customer make more informed decisions about her purchase. In this way, online reviews can help customers avoid wasting money on products that do not work as expected.
Negative reviews, however, can also help a business identify weaknesses in its products or services. These reviews can help a company identify where it may need to make adjustments.
For example, if a product received negative feedback for being difficult to use, the business may want to make improvements to help customers better navigate the product. If a product received negative feedback for being too expensive, the business may want to look at ways to make the product more affordable.
Online reviews can also help a business improve its SEO. When a company’s SEO is strong, it means that the website is receiving high rankings on the first page of Google search results. When potential customers look at these results, they see a short list of the best products and services.
Good SEO, therefore, is essential for getting more online attention and creating online buzz. Online reviews can help a business improve its SEO. If a business receives high rankings for its SEO, its website will appear at the top of search results.
If prospective customers see a high number of these results, they are more likely to click on the business’s website and potentially make a purchase.
More Market Share
Online reviews can also lead to more market share for a business. Market share is the percentage of the overall market a company captures. If a business captures 20 percent of the market, it means that 80 percent of customers are buying from that business.
If one of a business’s competitors receives a positive review on a popular website, this review may receive a lot of attention. This review may even be the only one that prospective customers read about the competitor.
In this way, a single positive review can lead to major sales for a competitor. This competitor may even be able to copycat the idea and receive positive reviews of its own.
Improve Company’s Reputation
When you’ve received positive reviews about your company, you can use these as the foundation for improving your reputation. When a consumer reads a review that has good things to say about your company, they are more likely to trust the information.
Next, you can respond to these reviews by thanking the consumer for their feedback and writing an explanation of how you plan to use this information to improve. You can also write a response thanking the consumer for their feedback, taking the opportunity to compliment them on their purchase or their service experience.
Strategies for Improving Your Company’s Reputation
It’s not enough to respond to online reviews; you’ll need to keep them coming to ensure your online reputation stays positive. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Respond to as many reviews as you can. While you may not have time to write lengthy responses to every review, you can ensure you reply to as many as possible.
- Include an explanation for why you deserve an excellent online review. When you’re thanking a consumer, explain why you deserve a positive online review. Explain what you did to make the consumers’ experience better or what changes you intend to make.
- Respond to negative reviews the same way you respond to positive reviews. When a consumer writes a negative review, respond the same way you would if they wrote a positive review. Address their concerns, explain your side of the story, and apologize for any mistakes or miscommunication.
3 Tips to Get More Reviews
For many businesses, simply relying on customer reviews as a way to improve their online reputation is not enough. To truly make this work, Internet businesses must be proactive about improving the online reviews they do receive. Here are three tips for attracting more online reviews:
1. Develop a Review Policy
Business owners can encourage customer reviews by creating a review policy. By displaying this policy to customers on your website or in written form at the check-out counter, you can let them know that reviews are welcome.
2. Ask Customers to Leave Reviews
Customers often hesitate to write reviews for fear of being dishonest. One way to eliminate this fear is to have customers write reviews for their products.
3. Respond Quickly and Enthusiastically
Many businesses leave reviews unanswered, even after receiving them. It is important to respond quickly and enthusiastically to customer reviews, as they may have noticed a problem with your product or may even have left a detailed review.
Online reviews are now one of the most trusted forms of information for consumers. While negative reviews can harm a brand, companies can use them to improve their reputation and increase sales.
They can use these reviews to address any concerns or complaints a consumer has about their product or service, as well as reassure the consumer that you’ll take care of them. You can also use these reviews to strengthen your SEO rankings and increase your brand visibility.
While there is no surefire way to ensure you get positive reviews and Google likes your company, there are a few things you can do to improve the chances. Whether you are looking to improve your online reputation or simply want to better manage the online reviews coming your way, these tips are sure to help.
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