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The Importance of online reviews

Having easy access to the web has drastically changed the way we shop for almost everything today.

From consumer electronics to medical services, it’s rare to blindly make a purchase decision without reading through several online reviews.  In 2020, over 90% of shoppers read at least one online review before deciding to visit a business.  This means that whatever your industry, having a positive online presence gives you several key advantages, which is why it’s becoming a key part of branding.

Understanding why you need online reviews will help you optimize your customer experience to help create a positive online footprint. Let’s review these seven reasons why your consumers’ published experiences with your brand are vital.

  1. Social proof drives sales – We are more likely to make a purchase if others around us—even total strangers—agree that it is a good decision. Today, online reviews are the biggest source of social proof, and they have a clear impact on sales.
  2. They make you more visible – Most shoppers will look on search engines like Google and Bing, or even on Facebook, when deciding what to buy. These websites all have their own unique ways of indexing and surfacing content, but they all value original and fresh content, and customer reviews can definitely help feed the content machine, keeping your brand favored by algorithms.  Online customer reviews give you a steady pipeline of(hopefully) positive content that search engines value highly when choosing which results to return.
  3. They make you look trustworthy –  Your brand can build significant trust and credibility from a steady stream of positive reviews.  Many shoppers distrust businesses that have ratings below(or even too far above) four stars. This leaves a small margin of error at the top, but companies with better average ratings are significantly more likely to see views converted to traffic and sales.
  4. They expand the conversation about you – Very good (or bad) reviews have a way of quickly spreading.  Encouraging consumers to review your company is an easy way to expand your brand’s reach. When people have good things to say, they are also more likely to share their reviews on more sites, including external websites like Yelp, FourSquare, and TripAdvisor.  These hubs are vital to your online presence, as Google collects data from their sites when building its own results ranking. Even on an individual level, having positive reviews can help push further reviews.
  5. They are increasingly essential to decision making – A proactively cultivated brand is one that increases your online visibility, and today, that means encouraging several ways for people to talk about you. Social media is a great tool, but the ability for customers to talk about you on other channels is a crucial component of your presence.  Almost two-thirds of shoppers think that online reviews are an essential part of the decision-making process. When they want to know the best places to go, they’re more likely to turn to Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor than they are to a newspaper or even their friends and family.  By focusing on creating a steady stream of reviews, your brand is more likely to show up when customers are making their next shopping decision.
  6. They have a clear impact on sales – There’s a growing body of benchmark data that proves that reviews do empirically lead to increased revenue.  A study by the Harvard Business School found that online reviews can demonstrably impact your bottom line. Brands that are viewed positively have better sales, but even improving your star rating can have a positive effect on your sales.  According to the study, a one-star improvement on leads to a boost of 5% to 9% on sales in the short term. Even a small improvement can have a massive impact.  In one study, Revoo found that online reviews drive an average of 18% sales uplift, with benefits including increased conversion rates, order sizes and repeat order rates. And a landmark Berkeley study from as long ago as 2011 found that a half-star improvement for a restaurant made it 30% to 49% more likely to fill up at peak hours. If readers like what they see, they’ll show it with their wallets.
  7. They give you an open line to consumers – More than simply posting reviews, consumers today expect companies to respond to their comments.  These reviews also give you a forum to be frank with consumers and reinforce positive reviews with thanks, or promotions. More importantly, they also give you a way to quickly rectify a poor review and show that you care.  The immediacy of these reviews and the personalized responses also mean that they give your brand a face. Having a friendly, open-to-feedback appearance can work wonders for your brand.