Whether or not you’re ready, 2021 is here, and barreling ahead. So what can you do to make this year a better one for business than last year? One tangible thing you can do is devote more time and energy to reputation management, recognizing the importance of online reviews and their impact on your overall success.

Since purchasing trends have shifted, and many people do the bulk of their shopping online, customers are coming into contact with content about your business in the review realm. This content has a lot of influence when it comes to sales and conversions, while also driving home some potentially hard-hitting information about your brand and the way you do business. We really can’t stress enough how important it is to not only take these customer reviews seriously, but also to actively work toward using them to your advantage.

Here are our top 6 reasons why online reviews are absolutely paramount for your business and brand.  

1– Reviews Drive Purchases

About 95% of customers read reviews online before making a purchase. Read that again. 

Your customers are reading reviews about your business, and the fact of the matter is– they are influenced by what they read. Google, Facebook, Yelp– these forums hold a lot of power over consumers. From shoe shopping to looking for a medical provider or attorney, it’s rare for people to blindly make a decision to purchase goods or services without ready through some online reviews first. 

Simply put, we are more likely to make a purchase if other people, strangers or not, agree that it’s a sound decision. We’re comforted and encouraged by success stories and positive feedback about the goods and services at hand. In fact, research shows that when a product has five or more reviews, the likelihood of purchase increases by 270%.

2– Reviews Boost Google Rankings

Reviews account for approximately 15% of the method Google uses to rank local businesses.

In addition to giving potential customers some insight about your products and services, online reviews also serve an SEO function. That means that the mere presence of reviews for your business actually helps drive more traffic to your website by helping you rank higher with Google. Ergo, the more people are talking about you and what you do or provide, the more visibility you’ll have online. Those reviews serve as fresh content, helping you beat the mighty algorithms for better brand exposure.

  

3– Reviews Instill Trust

About 50% of consumers want to see at least a 4-star rating to consider a business.

Credibility is huge. It’s important for potential customers to know that your brand is trustworthy, and a healthy stream of positive reviews can work wonders in this arena. Reviews can be a powerful tool for building online identity, and more the more stars you can manage to get, the more comfortable potential customers will feel about doing business with you. 

4– They’re Essential to Decision Making

Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and more…these are places people are likely to go to look for more information about businesses before they make a purchase decision. Because a wealth of information is at their fingertips, customers are taking time to do their research and see what other people are saying about your business before they take the plunge. This is yet another reason why it’s imperative to actively cultivate a positive presence online. Rest assured, people will read what’s out there, and it will impact their buying decisions.   

5– Reviews Directly Connect You to Customers

75% of businesses don’t even reply to their online reviews. Crazy, right?! We think so.

Don’t underestimate the power in having a direct line of communication between you and your customers. Reviews and social media give you platforms with which to interact with potential clients in a real way. Show them who you are! Show them you care about their experiences with your brand. Respond to them. Answer their questions. Take the time to be thoughtful and intentional in the way you present your business to the virtual world. Afterall, everyone is watching.

Of course we all hope the positive feedback we receive online well outweighs the negative, but the bad reviews also give you the opportunity to address issues professionally, compassionately, and to fix problems publicly. There’s a great deal of power in that too. Take advantage of those scenarios. Effectively turning around a customer’s bad experience might actually be the best way to gain clout with them, and anyone else who might witness the interaction.

6– They Expand Brand Reach

Encouraging positive conversations about your business is a great way to boost your marketing efforts. In other words, the more people out in the world talking about you and what you do, the better. Reviews are just another vehicle for furthering brand awareness online. The customer stories and feedback all serve to enhance your identity as a business, while helping to shape a reputation that will splash across review pages for everyone to read. When you actively work to cultivate that messaging, it can make a huge impact for business growth.

Our team at Riverworks offers reputation management services for our clients to help them harness the power of online reviews for good. If this is an area you could use some direction in, contact us today. We’d love to help you spark positive online conversations about your business while furthering your brand reach one review at a time.