Online reviews have become the new word-of-mouth. With new digital technologies allowing consumers to instantly share their experiences, businesses must find ways to manage their online presence and reputation. Online reviews are a critical component of business success in today’s digital world.
A study by marketing firm BEND found that an impressive 90% of consumers check online review sites before buying a product or service, with 42% saying they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. These statistics indicate that businesses must implement an effective review management strategy.
This article will introduce you to the impact of online reviews on purchasing decisions, tactics for encouraging customers to leave them, and solutions for managing your own business’s presence.
How Consumers Make Purchasing Decisions
In the past, consumers would make purchasing decisions based on information available through salespeople and advertisements. Now, more and more people are turning to online reviews to help them make informed buying decisions. This is due to several factors that make online reviews extremely influential in purchasing decisions.
Consumers are increasingly using multiple sources of information when making a decision. This means that online reviews are likely competing with other sources of information, such as friends and family, instructions and directions, and word of mouth.
Consumers also expect more information than ever before. This is especially true when it comes to product and service-related information. Consumers have come to expect ease, immediacy, and transparency in their buying experience, and online reviews provide all three.
The Impact Of Online Reviews On Purchasing Decisions
Online reviews have a significant impact on purchasing decisions. They are often the most important factor in a purchasing decision for businesses that have been reviewed on the most popular review sites, like Yelp and TripAdvisor.
Customers Rely on Reviews
Customers turn to online review sites as a source of information about products and services, but also to find out how other customers felt about their experiences. Reviews serve as social proof of a product’s quality and even the expertise of a service provider.
The credibility of an online review is based on a variety of factors. The best reviews are written by customers who have had a recent and relevant experience with the product or service. Ideally, these reviews should be as honest and unbiased as possible. Review sites allow customers to select a star rating for their review based on a variety of factors, including the reviewer’s experience with the product or service, value for the price, and the level of customer service.
This star rating reflects the level of trust customers have in the review.
Consumers Tend to Buy Products With Reviews
While customers may be influenced to avoid purchasing from businesses with negative reviews, they also likely prefer to buy products that have positive reviews.
As noted, 87% of customers are less likely to buy from a company with bad reviews. Unfortunately, about 70% of small businesses do not encourage customers to leave online reviews, which means customers may be missing out on a critical opportunity to share their experiences and increase sales.
What are your customers’ expectations when it comes to online reviews? How can you help them feel comfortable sharing their experience? Businesses often encourage customers to leave reviews in a variety of ways. For example, you might include the following language on your receipts: “Welcome to [your business]. We appreciate your business. If you could take a moment to review us on any of these sites, we would greatly appreciate it.”
Customers Look for the Best and Worst Reviews
Customers tend to gravitate toward the best and worst reviews and completely ignore reviews that are in the middle. Therefore, it is critical to ensure you are managing the best reviews while attempting to mitigate the worst.
Most review sites allow businesses to select which reviews to display on their page. While some review sites allow you to remove bad reviews, others allow you to respond to them so that other customers can see your side of the story. Businesses should take advantage of this opportunity to provide context and correct any inaccuracies in reviews.
The key is to avoid engaging in a heated conversation with a customer. Instead, focus on correcting any misunderstandings and thanking the customer for their feedback.
Tactics To Encourage Customers To Leave Online Reviews
Because online reviews are so critical to a business’s success, it is important to encourage customers to leave reviews. While the impact of online reviews on purchasing decisions is significant, not all customers will leave reviews.
This is due to a variety of factors like reviews do not impact everyone in the same way. While some will be motivated by a sense of obligation to leave a review, others rely on other ways to make their purchasing decisions. Here are some tips to encourage customers to leave online reviews:
Build Positive Customer Experience
Research suggests that customers who have a strong emotional connection to a business are more likely to leave a review. To encourage customers to leave reviews, businesses should focus on building positive customer experiences. This includes making sure customers have an easy and quick experience, providing prompt and friendly customer service, and maintaining a high level of consistency across all customer interactions.
If you want to encourage your customers to leave reviews, you can give them incentives to do so. This can be as simple as a “leave a review and enter to win a prize” contest. Other businesses have gone as far as to promise discounts on future products or services to customers who leave a review.
Whatever incentive you choose, make sure it is relevant to your customers. Additionally, be sure to follow any regulations related to this type of contest.
Make It More Feasible
If your customers are not leaving reviews, it could simply be a matter of feasibility. There are several things you can do to make it easier for customers to leave reviews. For example, you can add an option to leave a review in your app, or you can ask visitors to leave a review when they check out.
You can also ask for customer feedback. This way, customers are aware that you want to hear their thoughts and feelings, which can make it easier to leave a review.
Managing Your Business’s Online Review Presence
In addition to encouraging customers to leave reviews, businesses have a responsibility to manage their reviews. This is important to ensure that your online presence is both accurate and positive. This can be achieved through a few strategies:
Conduct Regular Reviews
Make sure to review your business’s products and services regularly. This can be done publicly or privately, on platforms such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, or Google My Business. These platforms allow you to monitor your online reviews, respond to customers, and update your profile as needed.
Respond To Reviews
When a customer leaves a review, you must respond. This can be done either publicly or privately, depending on the review platform. Make sure to thank the customer for their feedback, and address any issues or concerns they may have.
Keep Your Profile Up To Date
Your profile is the first thing that customers see when searching for your business online. Make sure to keep it up to date at all times. You can update your profile as frequently as needed or according to the platform’s guidelines.
Despite the significant impact online reviews have on purchasing decisions, it remains a challenge for businesses to create a positive online reputation. Even with the help of online reputation management tools like OWA, negative reviews are likely to be found on review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor.
To manage your business’s online reputation, it is important to take a proactive approach. Create an online presence where customers can post positive and negative reviews. When possible, respond to positive reviews by thanking the customer for their feedback. This can also help to explain any missing details in the review.
Provide details about how you will address any issues raised by a negative review, such as how you will improve your service or product. This shows customers that you are committed to improving your business. 🙂
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