Online Reviews Can Determine Your Success
Why Your Business Should Pay Attention to Online Reviews
Online reviews are important for your business. You’ve read this statement over and over but how important are they really? And how can they affect your business or your brand?
It doesn’t matter what type of business you have. Maybe you run a nice steakhouse right in the heart of Dallas or maybe you have a salon in New York City or a small pet shop in another corner of the globe. Whatever kind of business you run and wherever you may be, you are subject to online scrutiny and that is a certainty. This kind of scrutiny comes in the form of online reviews. You can get positive reviews, nasty negative reviews, and ones that offer constructive criticism. And all of these reviews, no matter how they are worded and no matter the sentiment, can affect your establishment or your products in more ways than one. That is why we created Review Fire.
Show me a business with a Review Rating below 3.5 Stars and I will show you an owner struggling to pay his bills.
People Listen to the Opinion of Others
Before we go ahead and talk about the effects of positive and negative online reviews on your business, let’s take a look at the O Continuum. The premise of the O Continuum, a trend seen by the Harvard Business Review, is that people are influenced by three things when making purchasing decisions. Their first influencer is their own personal experience, the second is marketing or the commercials seen online or TV, heard on the radio, read in publications, and the like, and the third is the opinion of others. Let’s concentrate on the third influencer.
The opinion of others is a very important consideration for our times. Many people now do their research before they even believe the claims made in a commercial. With the world connected through the Internet, we don’t only get relevant information about certain products or services but also get to learn about the experiences of those who have gone to certain establishments to those who used certain products we are interested in buying.
We can now get an insight if a certain product is effective. We can now get answers to questions like, “Will I be wasting money on this whitening toothpaste?”, “Is the steak at Restaurant X really good?”, “Are the rooms in Budget Hotel X clean?”, among others. As consumers, we can get enough information based on online reviews alone and this is a good thing but is it good for your business? The short answer is yes.
People trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations made by friends, family, or co-workers. In a 2015 survey done by BrightLocal, 84% of consumers are said to trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. By contrast, only a mere 16% don’t trust online reviews at all. There is always a question about authenticity when it comes to online reviews and this skepticism stems from fake reviews generated by shop owners themselves. The good news is, 27% will trust online reviews if said reviews are perceived as real or authentic. If consumers have a feeling that a particular review was planted, it can sway their decision the other way.
Online Reviews are Good for your Business
Getting online reviews give you credibility and if you get one good review after the other, chances are, more people will hear about you and more of them would want to visit your establishment or try your products.
Statistics show that 91 to 92% of consumers read online reviews. This tells us that more people read online reviews on a regular basis and if we base it on the 92%, only 8% of consumers do not pay attention online reviews at all. It is safe to say that this is a very small portion.
Based on surveys, 63% of consumers find online reviews through their favorite search engines while 37% visit review sites directly. This information does not only show us that a huge percentage of consumers rely on reviews, it also tells us that reviews about your business need to be in reputable review sites for them to appear in search engine results. It is good business sense to want to reach the 91-92% and it is also a good decision to want reviews about your business to appear in search results.
The next logical step is for you to enroll your business in review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and the like depending on what type of business you have. It’s not just the big businesses that can harness the positive effects of online reviews, local and small businesses can do the same thing too. Your business or any business, for that matter, will benefit from having reviews from a range of review sites the likes of Yelp, Foursquare, and others. Getting reviews from social media platforms like Facebook and Google+ will also increase your business’ chances of showing up in search engine results.
It is vital for businesses to capitalize on the Internet and the connectivity it offers to people around the world. To do this, you would need to build a strong online presence for your business.
How Reviews Influence Consumer Opinion
Statistics show that 90% of consumers form an opinion about a business after reading 10 reviews or less. A good 68% read just one to six reviews to get to know a business while 10% read more than 10 reviews to do so. Looking at the 68% who decide based on just one to six reviews gives us an insight that one review can influence purchasing decisions. If you get one nasty review from Yelp or Facebook, for example, it is likely that this will affect consumer opinion in a negative manner even if we’re only talking about one bad review. Reviews are powerful and they can make or break a business especially if the business is not proactively managing these reviews.
To ensure that your business is relevant to the 90%, you should have a good reputation management system that monitors all reviews good and bad. We strongly advise that you also put up a system that seeks new reviews from customers. Why is this so? When we, as consumers, research a certain business, we usually get led to the top reviews first.
If you are looking for a nice Italian restaurant in Plano, Texas, you’d be seeing the latest reviews first and if all you see are negative reviews, chances are, you won’t be going to that particular restaurant. You’d likely search for another Italian restaurant in the area with better reviews.
Recent reviews have an impact on consumer’s trust aside from the fact that they are the first ones that appear when someone looks for reviews of a particular establishment. If you are the owner of an Italian restaurant with plenty of negative reviews right on the top, potential customers likely won’t read past these bad reviews. In fact, they won’t even get the chance to see all the positive reviews down below.
This is the reason why monitoring reviews about your business is of importance and focusing on generating positive reviews is equally important. If you have a lot of negative reviews, you can push them down further by getting positive reviews. This means you would need to be proactive in asking for reviews from your customers. The next time a customer compliments your dishes or your brand of service, ask them to leave a review on Yelp or Facebook.
It is understandable that many business owners don’t really want to deal with online reviews for fear of getting bashed online. However, business owners must deal with the painful reality that consumers are going to leave online reviews whether they are welcome to or not. Sometimes, consumers even take the liberty of adding your business to a review site just so they can review you. Sometimes it is the review sites themselves that will add your business to their listings. This is why most review sites have a “claim your business” link that gives business owners access to their own pages.
With that said, it is best for you to be proactive when it comes to online reviews. Don’t be afraid of negative reviews either because you can learn from them. Aside from giving you an insight on what customers think about your business, you should also see these reviews as an opportunity to engage with your target market. Honest reviews can help improve your business and answering negative reviews can be a way for you to address not only the reviewer but the people who will be reading it.
Since consumer reviews affect purchasing decisions, business owners must know the numbers. 39% of consumers will go to a particular establishment with positive reviews while 24% won’t go to a local business if they see a lot of negative reviews about it.
Research, Value, Risk, and Importance of the Purchase
With so many review sites out there, how many of them do consumers look at before they make a purchasing decision? Statistics show that 20% of consumers only look at one review site before deciding whether they are going to buy from or get services from a certain establishment or not. A good 59%, on the other hand, take a look at two to three review sites before they decide.
Research behaviors vary and it is often dependent on what the consumer is looking for. If say, John is looking for a good family restaurant so he doesn’t have to cook dinner tonight, he will likely rely on just one review site. John will go to Yelp, search for a restaurant, read a few reviews, and proceed to decide from there. However, if John decides to get a new swimming pool one day and wants the best contractor in Texas to do it, he will likely look at more review sites before hiring anyone. This shows that the depth of research done by John highly depends on value, risk, and the significance of the purchase that is about to be made.
Judging a Local Business Based on Consumer Reviews
We all have our ways of judging establishments and we all have our own set of criteria but in general, consumers look at star ratings and the sentiments of those who have gone to those establishments. 58% of consumers pay attention to a business’ star rating and 47% take a look at the sentiment of reviews. Almost half of consumers who read online reviews also see if the reviews are recent or not.
Now let’s take a look at star ratings. Star ratings are important for most consumers mainly because they are highly visible. You can see star ratings from search engine research and they are often placed beside a business name in review sites.
Star ratings are easy to understand. If you get 5 stars, it means you’re awesome and if you get 1 star, it means you are not awesome at all. These ratings are like a universal language. Everyone understands them. They have the capability to summarize your business and they don’t require a lot of effort to convey the message they want to convey. One star – bad, five stars – good.
Why do we rely on them though? There is this thing about time. We rarely have time for anything. We are always in a hurry to get things done that’s why we rely on ratings to make our purchasing decisions. If a product got a 5-star review, it means it is effective.
There are other things that people look at though. This includes taking a look at bad reviews and good reviews about your business and how recent these reviews are. If John sees ten 5-star reviews of a restaurant, he will likely choose to visit the place with his family but if he sees that all of these positive reviews are five years old, he will likely dismiss their importance. John isn’t a bad guy. In fact, John is like most consumers and most consumers care about the recency of reviews and the sentiment of these reviews.
The question is, how recent should these reviews be? 73% of consumers say that 3-month-old reviews or older are no longer relevant while 22% will only take a look at or consider reviews written in the past 14 days. This is the reason why you need a steady influx of reviews since older reviews cannot influence buyers as much as a new review would.
Why are older reviews not so relevant for some people? Businesses evolve. Some change for the better while others lose their magic touch. For establishments like restaurants and hotels where a lot of foot traffic is expected, consumers often expect recent reviews. For less volatile businesses like an accounting firm or a pool contractor office, older reviews will still be relevant. Whether your business is a restaurant or a hotel or one that can benefit from older reviews even years later, it is still a good idea to encourage your customers to write a review about your establishment.
Minimum Star Rating
Do consumers only choose places that have 5-star ratings? Not really. A survey from 2016 shows that 87% of consumers look for a rating of 3 to 5 stars to actually visit a business while 14% would consider going to a place with lower star ratings. Consumers value trust more than perfection and if they think you are a legitimate business based on online reviews, there is still a chance for them to visit your establishment even if you have a low star rating. However, getting higher star ratings is encouraged because positive ratings will bring more business to your doorstep.
The Effects of a Positive Review
Positive reviews will give you more business because 74% of consumers will trust your business more. Local businesses with negative reviews won’t get 60% of consumers because this group won’t go near a business with bad ratings. While 5% of consumers don’t really pay attention to reviews, we can all agree that reviews are important and that every business should manage the reviews they get from their customers. This also gives businesses the go signal to proactively seek positive reviews and to handle or resolve negative reviews.
What else happens if consumers see positive reviews? 54% will usually visit the business’ website, 19% will go to the business directly, and 17% will search for more reviews. It is clear that consumers look for more information and in this case, they go to the business’ website first before actually going to the establishment itself.
If you think you don’t have positive reviews or don’t have enough of them to drown out the negative ones, it is time to ask your customers for reviews. If you would like to be more proactive with the reviews that your business receives on a daily basis, Review Fire can help you out. Review Fire makes it possible for you to view and respond to reviews in various review sites. It also gives you the power to ask your customers for private feedback so you can improve your business.
Review Fire is a powerful tool that every local business should have. Make reviews work towards building a better business by contacting us today. Our friendly personnel will be happy to answer your questions about our web-based software.