Okay, so we all know that a good review is better than a bad one, but do online testimonials, star ratings and reviews really make that much of a difference for small to medium businesses? The answer? They can do.
Why Are Online Reviews Important?
According to BrightLocal’s annual Local Consumer Review Survey, 70 per cent of people will leave a business review when asked and the most commonly read reviews are for restaurants and cafes. Reviews for hotel and bed and breakfasts were also widely read, with 40 per cent of respondents saying they check these, as well as businesses in the healthcare, beauty and automotive sectors.
The study also found that 90% of consumers read ten reviews or less and 32 per cent of people form an opinion of a brand after reading between one and three reviews. Talk about reading a book by its cover!
So, what are people looking for? Well, the majority of people will be looking at the overall star rating of a business and the sentiment of the most recent reviews.
But, Do They Really Make a Difference?
The study found that 68 per cent of people are more likely to use a business if it has good reviews and just 12 per cent of those questioned said that reviews that they read do not influence their decision to use a business’ services or products. Lastly, 42 per cent of people said negative reviews would put them off using the company.
In 2014, it was reported that 88 per cent of people now trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. However, people are more likely to make an online review after a bad experience than a good one, so how do you combat this?
Where to Start?
Google Reviews should be your first port of call, as these reviews and star ratings will appear in Google Map listings – which are particularly useful in ‘near me’ searches. In order to get the ball rolling, make sure to verify the business on Google by creating a Google+ page. Google provides guidance for this here.
How Can You Get Honest, Quality Reviews?
So, you know you need them, but how do you get them… the honest way?
• Have great customer service that people will want to talk about whether prompted or not.
• Never pay for a review, though entering participants into a prize draw is often a great incentive.
• Promote your Google page on Facebook, Twitter and any other relevant social media channel your business may have.
• Place a visible call-to-action on your website, clearly showing site visitors where they can review your business.
• Proudly display good reviews for all to see, whether that’s on your home page or on your physical business premises’ wall.
• Ask customers after they make a purchase.
So, are you asking your customers to leave online reviews of your business? Maybe you should be.