In recent years, more and more consumers began turning to the Internet to shop and learn more about products and services they wanted to buy.
And then COVID came.
With stores closed and lockdowns in place, customers often had no choice but to go online to shop and do research. Businesses that already had e-commerce platforms and a strong online presence had a distinct advantage – and those with plenty of online reviews were way ahead.
Those online reviews – especially those left on a Google listing – became critically important for winning more business and staying afloat during a tough time.
People tend to trust reports from other consumers, and those reviews have a definite impact on your bottom line. In fact, in recent studies, 94% of consumers said a negative review convinced them to avoid a business, and businesses with more than the average number of reviews across a variety of review sites were found to bring in 54% more in annual revenue.
In short, if you want to build a great business, you need to pay attention to your online reputation and get customers to share their feedback on the Internet.
What do online reviews really do?
Reviews play a particularly important role to potential customers and in building a great business. Online reviews can:
- Aid customers in their research
Most online shoppers spend a significant amount of time and energy reading reviews, checking prices and comparison shopping before making a purchase (especially a big purchase) or choosing a service provider. Even if they ultimately buy something in-store rather than on the Internet, they’re likely to do their homework online first – and see what others are saying.
- Increase sales
Potential customers who see that others were happy with what they bought drives confidence and makes them feel good about making a similar purchase. They know your business will say that what you have to offer is great; they want to hear it from their peers before buying something themselves.
- Boost your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Google pays attention to online reviews – in fact, Google collects and scores the number and the quality of your reviews (in places like Google My Business listings) to determine your website rank in search results.
- Support decision-making
When a customer can’t see a product right in front of them, reviews can be the next best thing. Reviews often help potential customers get a more complete picture and answer their questions, such as if a clothing item was true-to-size or not. You can bet that a string of reviews mentioning bad food at a restaurant, poor customer service at a hotel or unsanitary conditions at a hair or nail salon will have an effect!
- Help your business improve
You’re probably not going to get all 5-star reviews, and that’s OK – no business is perfect. What’s most important is that when you do get negative feedback, you respond and use it as an opportunity for business improvement. If you see multiple negative reviews about the same topic (like customer service), it’s time to acknowledge the problem, follow up with reviewers online and address their concerns.
How do I get more online reviews?
If you have a Facebook page and a Google My Business profile in place, customer reviews should come in naturally over time, but you can increase the number of customers who leave feedback. Here are three tips for getting more online reviews:
- Ask – Whether in your store, on your checkout page, as a pop-up after customers make a purchase, or asking them face-to-face, simply asking for feedback can make a big difference. You can even include a QR code in invoices to help them out.
- Send out a simple email – If you have a reliable, up-to-date email list of your customers, send out a short message asking to review your products or services with a link to the review site to make it easy for them.
- Send a quick customer survey – This can be done for free through an online service like Alchemer or SurveyMonkey and allows customers to provide you with overall feedback, as well as the chance to leave an online review.
Plus, don’t forget that when you get good reviews, you can use them on your website and social media, in email campaigns and other promotions to help your brand and encourage more customers to share their opinions, too.