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Today many consumers make purchasing decisions based on Google reviews and a variety of other online resources that provide customer feedback. It’s essential for businesses engaging in digital marketing to be aware of what others are saying about them in reviews online. For local businesses in Connecticut – regardless of whether they are an auto repair shop, accountant, attorney, mortgage broker or nail salon – reviews play a large role in how potential customers and Google perceive you.  Here are important points to know about review sites and how they can help grow your business.

Growing Role of Online Reviews

Two of the most popular sites for online reviews are Google My Business and Yelp. There are many other sites, especially travel sites, that allow customers to post reviews of experiences with hotels, airlines, restaurants and any other type of business. These sites can help drive traffic to your site if your customers post positive reviews about your enterprise.

While 74 percent of local establishments have at least one review on Google, according to BrightLocal, the average local business has 39 reviews on Google My Business. Another metric consumers look at is number of stars that rate the company’s review performance. A high percentage of consumers also read company responses to reviews.

As reviews continue to grow in importance, businesses should be aware that a positive online reputation raises the trust level customers have in them. Reviews can also turn searchers into viable leads to nurture for the future. Furthermore, the more positive reviews your business gets online, the more it will help your search rankings in Google. For 50 percent of consumers the next step after reading a positive review is to visit the company’s website.

Picking a Review Site Based On Your Profession and Your Clients

Local directory review sites like Yelp involve starting a profile that includes all your relevant business information. Like search engines, these directories help people find destinations in their neighborhoods. The reason these reviews cannot be ignored is that 86 percent of consumers read reviews to decide on shopping at local businesses, according to BrightLocal.  Some industries, like real estate, law and medicine, have specific reviews sites that focus on those professions.  If you are an attorney, sites like Avvo.com, Lawyers.com, Findlaw and Nolo.com are all good places to claim and fill out a profile for your practice or firm.  Realtors can look at a site like Zillow.com.  Doctors can look at sites like Healthgrades.com, ZocDoc. or RateMDs for specific reviews related to their field.

A Google Review Option To Consider If Your Customer Doesn’t Have A Gmail Address

In most cases, these profession-specific review sites don’t require a user to have an account in order to leave feedback on someone or a business.  Google, however, does require the reviewer to have a Gmail address or account in order to leave feedback.  There is a way for someone without a gmail address to leave a reveiw, but it does involve several steps.  If you are interested in learning the process, you can download this infographic on how to leave a review on Google without having a Gmail address.

Posting Reviews on Your Site

Another way to capitalize on reviews is to post them on your site, whether it’s text or a video. Some sites let anyone post on their site while others apply a screening process or require a login to an account. Although consumers are likely to put more weight in third party sites, they might still visit a site’s testimonial pages to get an idea of how the product or service works and whether or not the user was satisfied.

Influence of Strangers On Potential Customers

The concept that consumers pay more attention to total strangers than TV celebrities or commercials that promote brands says a lot about the power of the internet. Word of mouth has always been the strongest form of advertising, since friends often trust the opinions of friends. But the idea of people you’ve never met having more credibility than traditional media advertising methods is new to our culture.

Shared experiences are what drive social media and much of what happens online. Consumers, more than ever before, want to see evidence from first=hand users before making a purchase. About 40 percent of consumers only pay attention to reviews written within the past few weeks, according to BrightLocal.

What To Do About Negative Reviews

The good news about negative reviews is that nearly half of consumers say they’re more likely to visit an establishment that responds to negative reviews, according to ReviewTrackers. That means all is not lost when someone posts something negative.

It’s very important to avoid responding to negativity to try to get back at the customer. The better approach that might even nurture the lead is to thank the individual for their opinion and talk about how your business relies on feedback to make improvements. If you absolutely want to scrub negative content off the internet you can invest in online reputation management software or a similar service.

Although about half of local marketers say they don’t have enough time to spend on online reputation management, 76 percent are planning to spend more time with it in the next year, according to BrightLocal.

Encouraging Reviews

There’s a strong need for businesses to develop systems that allow and remind customers to share their feedback. Whether it’s through Google My Business, emails, social media or even business cards that say “please review us,” it’s important to encourage reviews. Ideally you will get so many reviews that no single review will make or break consumer decisions. A good time to get clients comfortable with sharing their views is during both the on-boarding and off-boarding process.

Customer satisfaction is a major component to business success. Your company can reduce negative attacks by letting customers know you want them to share their honest opinions with the public. If a company is bombarded with negative reviews from various sources, it may be a sign the company needs to make changes. In that sense negative reviews can be valuable information.

Many consumers see through a page full of positive reviews as rigged or cherry-picked. So a few negative Google reviews here and there actually help raise credibility. What’s most important to remember is that online reviews have a big impact on business revenue and are here to stay.

If you are interested in finding ways to increase the rate and quality of your reviews, please contact us or call our office at 860-561-1156 to talk about the options you can consider.

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