How Online Reviews Impact Your Business

The best form of advertising has and always will be word of mouth — one consumer tells a friend, who tells another.

In our current media landscape, this translates to a consumer or client sharing their opinions via online review sites, such as Yelp, Google Local and Citysearch, and many more. Managing online reputation becomes one of the most important factors affecting a consumer’s decision to buy.

For example, if someone searches for “best restaurants in Austin” on their smartphones, they are likely to gloss over locations with negative reviews until they find a business lots of positives.

So how do online reviews impact your business? Online reviews can be both beneficial and harmful. Here are some elements to keep in mind.

People trust online reviews
Saturated by advertising, modern consumers are sales-pitch savvy and they turn to online review sites for unbiased opinions. In fact, 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. For these consumers, positive online reviews may just as well have been a friend telling them how great your business is.

Consumers often focus on the negatives
To the benefit of business, online reviews are akin to a hyper-connected form of word-of-mouth, each online referral having further range than face-to-face recommendations. But negative comments tend to carry more weight, making online reputation management that much more critical.

Negative reviews also play a role in determining how consumers find your business. Review sites like Yelp often factor user ratings into their search results, and there’s even talk that Google penalizes online merchants with negative reviews in its search engine results.

New market segments
Controlling your online reputation opens your business up to a whole new segment of your audience — mobile browsers. More than half of all local searches in 2011 were made via mobile phones. These consumers enter the market using location-based services, like Google’s Local search, helping them find your business at a crucial time — when they’re on the go and ready to buy. If they read about someone’s bad experience at your business, chances are they’ll skip over you to the next listing.

Managing online reputation
Finally, the best characteristic about online reviews from a business perspective is simply that you can manage it. While many business owners may feel helpless when it comes to negative reviews, contrarily, having them online allows you to identify and resolve them.

Before online reviews, there was little to do about negative opinions circulating offline in social networks. Businesses may not have even been aware of them.

Using ReviewPush, CEOs and owners are not only more aware of the general consensus surrounding their business but can now take action to resolve negative comments and swing the court of public opinion in their favor.

Whether you like it or not, online reviews are here to stay. And most likely, if you own a brick-and-mortar store, your business is already collecting reviews online. As a business owner, you can use online reviews to your advantage. Ask for reviews from positive customers and contact negative reviewers to resolve unwanted comments.

Want to learn more about ReviewPush? Try our services free for 30 days.

 

Photo credit: gizmag.com