According to the Inc. article Google Just Released Some Staggering Research That Should Shock Every Business, 50 percent of frequent travelers surveyed by Google and research consultancy Greenberg said online reviews were the most important thing when booking travel. Regardless of your industry, this article uncovers a critical truth about the power of online reviews that no industry should ignore.

In its article on 20 Online Reputation Statistics That Every Business Owner Needs To Know, Forbes echoes this sentiment with some hard-hitting statistics of its own, including:

  • 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business.
  • 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
  • 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.

Pretty staggering data, right? If this isn’t enough information to drive home the importance of online reviews, I’m not sure what is.

Another Forbes article explains How Online Reviews Can Help Grow Your Small Business. Some of the reasons cited include building confidence in your brand; uncovering the reasons why customers are happy or unhappy with your product or service which, in turn, enables you to fix problems and build on your strengths; and they can be a source of lead generation (and who doesn’t need more leads?!).

So, you are convinced of the impact online reviews have on your business. Now what? Luckily, there are steps you can take to improve your online reviews. According to Entrepreneur’s article 6 Ways to Make Online Reviews Work for Your Business, here are some of them.

  • Provide online reviewers an opportunity to provide written feedback and not just a star rating. Customers appreciate the ability to provide detailed insights into their experience. This level of detail, in turn, assists potential customer during the purchasing process.
  • The more online reviews your company has, the better. Studies show that products with 50 or more reviews have a 4.6% higher conversion rate than products with fewer than 50 reviews.
  • Respond to all reviews, even the negative ones. Take the opportunity to right the wrong and, hopefully, get a loyal customer in return. People appreciate feeling heard and feeling like what they have to say matters. Go the extra mile to make it right. It will pay off in spades in the long run.
  • In this digital age we live in, leave no stone unturned in terms of where and how people can provide their online feedback. What channels are you currently using? Make sure there is an option to engage with you there. You may even want to consider providing customers with incentives for sharing their feedback.
  • In the 20 Online Reputation Statistics article I referenced earlier, it cites that 91% of online adults use search engines to find information on the web. And, Google is typically the first touch point between a customer and your business. Suffice it to say, you can’t afford to ignore SEO and Google in particular.

Ultimately, you don’t know what your customers like or dislike, want or don’t want, until you ask them. And, if you don’t ask them and don’t have online reviews, the data has clearly established that you will lose customers to businesses that have invested in a solid online review process. Now is the perfect time to establish a process to regularly collect customer feedback and to monitor and share it online. People are more likely to provide an online review in the moment or immediately after a product or service is provided. And, don’t forget about tradeshows! This is an ideal time to collect feedback.

I know this list may seem overwhelming, especially if you haven’t been giving online reviews any of your time and attention. Hopefully after reading this blog, however, you realize that you’re making a critical mistake if you don’t add this to you to-do list. And, remember, you don’t have to tackle this all at once. Create a plan to add one step at a time. There are also resources like TriMoxie Marketing who can quickly get you where you need to be. Contact us to find out how we can help!