The Role of Online Reviews

Your reputation is the most important thing when it comes to your business. There’s no point in having a great branding strategy if your company has a reputation for poor customer service, or a bunch of negative online reviews. Just like there’s no point in investing money in advertising your product or service offering if consumers already think poorly of you.

Online reviews play a crucial part in elevating your brand’s reputation. Too many positive reviews may lead consumers to think you’re ingenuine, whereas too many negative reviews may steer people away.

In this blog, we look at how online reviews and reputation management tie into your business strategy and the consequences if not appropriately managed.

The role of online reviews

Influences consumer purchase

The most significant role of online reviews is how it influences consumer purchases. In fact, 93% of consumers say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions. Especially when purchasing from an unfamiliar business, a comprehensive check of reviews is usually completed. If you think about the last thing you bought, there’s probably a high chance you did some research into star ratings (rating businesses – where five-star is the best and one is the worst) and comments about the product.

Star ratings are so popular – so much so that consumers still trust them, even though 42% of the reviews on Amazon are thought to be fake. However, having negative reviews among these can help the brand appear more realistic.

Builds brand credibility

Put simply; reviews build brand credibility. Receiving good reviews builds up your brand trust and authority. If it’s apparent that customers have had a good experience with your brand, others are more inclined to trust and purchase from you.

Although positive reviews look great, having a mix of positive and negative reviews can also build trust. According to Reevoo, negative reviews can increase conversions by up to 85%. This doesn’t mean that businesses with bad reputations increase conversions. It’s simply referring to the fact that some consumers will be more inclined to purchase if there are a few negative reviews scattered amongst the positive, as it looks more authentic. While we know you’re not going to go out and ask for negative reviews, this should give you peace of mind that a few bad reviews aren’t the end of the world.

Validates expertise

You can’t talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk! Advertising your product or service as ‘the best’ or ‘highly experienced’ is one thing, but delivering these promises is another. Online reviews validate your business in the eyes of prospective customers. They confirm that you can deliver on the product or service you’re offering and that it meets or exceeds expectations.

Anyone can claim how great their business is online, but the likelihood of conversion increases by backing it up with evidence.

Expands reach 

One underrated benefit of online reviews is that they allow you to expand your online presence beyond your website and social channels. Potential consumers can learn about your brand on authoritative third-party sites, like Google, Yelp and Angi.

Along with these, online review sites act as customer referrals. If someone has a good experience with your brand, there’s a good chance that they’ll refer you to their network. Word-of-mouth marketing is invaluable to businesses and is a free way to advertise and gain further reach within their industry.

Your online review strategy to elevate your reputation

Having a solid strategy in place is crucial in elevating your reputation. Without a comprehensive reputation management plan, your business risks damaging its reputation without knowing. Here are some things to implement within your management plan.

Monitor and respond

Monitoring and responding to online reviews should be a staple within your reputation management plan. Having a broad understanding of the role online reviews play and where these reviews may be posted is crucial. Create a list of all sites that have reviews on your business, and be sure to check them regularly, setting up alerts where possible. When monitoring these reviews and comments, here are some steps to take:

  • Keep a close watch

Remain vigilant here. Check Google, Facebook, and Yelp reviews daily, as they have the power to seriously hurt your reputation if a bad review is posted.

  • Respond promptly

The timing of your response is crucial – especially to potentially harmful reviews. It’s recommended that negative reviews are responded to within four hours. Responding to positive or neutral reviews and comments within 24 hours will ensure you’re keeping on top of your reputation.

  • Follow up

Get on the front foot when it comes to reviews. Not only should you respond quickly, but be sure to follow it up. If you’ve promised someone that you’ll investigate their issue, give updates frequently – even if it’s just to say that there is no new update, but you’re working on it. Customers will appreciate the effort you’ve gone to to keep them in the loop. 

  • Take it offline

If you feel as though a comment or review has the potential to spiral out of control, taking it offline may be the best option. Reply to the reviews and let them know that you’re reaching out to them privately to discuss their problem further. Get on the front foot and message them first to show your dedication.

If you’re being sent some not-so-nice messages, read our blog on how to deal with trolls to learn how best to respond.

Increase review volume 

Unfortunately, people are more likely to leave a negative review than a positive one. There are potentially hundreds of people who are satisfied with your product or offering, but they haven’t left you any feedback. The only way to increase your review volume is to ask! Following all interactions, get into the habit of asking for a review. It might feel a little awkward at first, but you increase the chance of customers leaving reviews if they’re prompted to do so. You’ll get a higher response rate with more detailed, actionable information by asking directly after an interaction. 

Optimise your offering based on reviews

One of the best ways to elevate your business is to use reviews you receive to optimise your offering. Negative reviews allow you to fix issues you may not have been aware of. Even positive reviews will enable you to make minor tweaks. For example, if a review reads, “Great product although a little smaller than I expected. Excellent customer service, though. Thank you so much!”, you might consider the product in question and whether it’s a recurring theme with customers thinking similar thoughts. If so, you have the chance to tweak the product, so it meets expectations.

Online reviews play a massive part in elevating your business. Regardless of whether they’re good or bad, these reviews give you the power to grow your business. They are invaluable with what information they provide you and are a huge part of reputation management. If you need some advice on asking for or responding to reviews, send us an email or DM today.

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