Online reviews are becoming increasingly important to every business, for both overall reputation and growth. If you are not encouraging or monitoring reviews for your business, then you are missing the opportunity to grow your customer base.
Studies show that 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family.
Here are our top 3 reasons on why local businesses must embrace online reviews:
1) It Will Put Your Practice Ahead of the Competition
Consider the following scenario: Mary has moved to a new town and she needs to switch to a new dentist. In addition to asking contacts, she begins an online search to see which dentists’ that are nearby and will accept her insurance. With her online search, she also starts to look at the reviews for each office.
Let’s assume that all 3 of the below local dentists have what Mary is looking for, however, Mary’s online search reveals that one of the offices has a much lower score in terms of online reviews and one of the offices has the most reviews with the best ranking.
Most likely, Mary will not be making an appointment with the lower ranked office. Other things a consumer like Mary may consider are how many reviews have been written and how recent the reviews are. Ultimately, a consumer in this situation will probably select the dental office with the most positive and recent feedback, assuming all of her other needs are met.
2) Reviews Will Effect Referrals
Did you know that 4 out of 5 consumers have reversed a purchase decision based on negative online reviews?
Many local businesses rely on referrals or word of mouth as a main source for new business, which is great. But what if there was a way to get even more referrals on a regular basis? The answer lies in growing your online reviews.
Today businesses are recommended both online and offline. In the image below you can see an example of a local resident asking for a recommendation on Facebook for dentist. And even when referrals happen offline, it is likely that a consumer will conduct an online search for the business. A lack of reviews may not be a red flag to the consumer, but on the flip side, a good amount of positive feedback and reviews will only add to this consumer’s decision making process to select your practice.
Or perhaps a negative review online is always surfacing when users search for your business online. Now, a simple Google search on your practice brings up that one negative review and could be resulting in several lost referrals on a weekly to monthly basis. Depending on the industry of your business, that could translate to thousands of dollars (or more!) in business that was referred, but now lost.
3) Online Reviews are Part of Your SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Reviews have become part of our online search behavior. Search engines and social media channels have not only picked up on this, but they play into it. As noted above, the number of reviews and overall ranking are displayed right on the Google search pages and within the maps section. Social media channels such as Facebook and YELP also prominently display review rankings, both on the home pages of the channels, and on search.
There are many factors that play into SEO and help your business rank, but overall companies like Google and Facebook want to serve their searchers the best results. Due to this, businesses with positive and recent reviews will have the chance to out rank businesses with negative or no reviews in organic local searches.
SO … How do you increase your online reviews?
Many of our clients struggle getting reviews and finding ways to increase positive reviews,
One of the problems we see with local businesses is that simply asking customers or patients for an online review, does not always work. Customers walk out the door, they forget and get busy.
At Custom Marketing Solutions, we implement an automated process for our clients so that online reviews are consistent and fresh. The automation includes software that asks customers for new reviews in a polite and personalized email or text. Our process also prevents negative reviews from occurring and monitors all online mentions of a business. This automated process takes a lot off the clients’ plates and allows positive reviews and online reputation to grow on auto-pilot. Negative reviews and unhappy customers still get the attention needed, however, this system often prevents negative online posts from being posted publicly.
The Bottom Line: Positive Reviews Will Grow Your Business
From helping with search ranking to building trust with new patients, online reviews are now a necessary part of a digital marketing strategy. Social media and online consumer behaviors have made reviews important and this trend is not changing. It is common for consumers to resort to social media to ask for recommendations, which places business reviews right into the spotlight. Also, readying reviews is now a regular part of the consumer’s decision making process.
For local businesses, this is a great marketing opportunity and strategy. Online reviews are a low cost marketing investment, with a big payoff: new customers and patients!