Every year, BrightLocal runs a survey on local consumer reviews. Over the last several years, we’ve watched the numbers just keep on rising for how people read, trust, and are influenced by online reviews. The latest results in 2018 were no exception to that rule!
Here are a few numbers you’ll want to hear about:
- 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses (including 95% of people aged 18-34)
- Consumers require an average of 40 online reviews before believing a business’s star rating is accurate
- 57% of consumers will only use a business if it has 4 or more stars
- Negative reviews stop 40% of consumers from wanting to use a business
It’s clear from these numbers that online reviews matter. But, can they really affect your business so deeply that they cause dings to your bottom line?
How Online Reputation Marketing Affects Your Business’s Bottom Line
Let’s try a hypothetical here to determine just how much your online reputation affects your profits.
You own a dog grooming business called Barkin’ Fresh. You currently have two locations, and are hoping to open a third. However, the second location you opened isn’t doing as well as the first, and you’re not entirely sure why. It’s in a slightly less lucrative location, so you’ve been using some paid advertising online to help ramp business up.
Take a look at your online reputation. You’ve set up Google My Business for your second location, but you only have a couple reviews. One of the reviews is only 3 stars because someone thought parking wasn’t the easiest outside your storefront.
“That can’t really be the reason by business isn’t doing well” you think. Well, actually, it really is!
Looking back at a couple of the numbers we mentioned above, that one negative (even middle-of-the-road) review that you have could be stopping a whopping 40% of consumers looking for a dog groomer. Yikes!
Obviously, 40% less business affects your bottom line.
Top 6 Tips for Using Online Reputation Marketing to Increase Your Revenue
Now that we’ve established that a negative (or simply just not great) reputation can impact your bottom line, let’s look at a few ways to repair your online reputation and make it increase your revenue instead.
1. Respond to all reviews
89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews! Responding to ALL reviews, not just the negative ones, benefits your reputation and your business in several ways.
First, it shows that you’re engaged with your community online! You do NOT want to appear as some nameless faceless company that’s not at all active online, or just one that surfaces when a bad review comes along.
Second, it gives you a chance to craft a face-saving response to poor reviews. There’s an art to this, and it involves being kind, positive, and helpful. Never respond to negativity with more negativity!
For instance, go back to that example earlier where someone left a poor review, simply because parking wasn’t easy. That really has nothing to do with their experience with the actual dog grooming! Instead of being angry about it, though, you could say something like, “We’re sorry you found parking difficult! We hoped for a parking lot, but that wasn’t possible with this location. We’re working with the city to get a few dedicated spaces. We hope the less-than-ideal parking won’t keep you away from our stellar groomers!”
Always apologize, even if you’ve done nothing wrong.
For the positive reviews, make sure to just pop in to say thanks!
2. Correct anything internally that’s leading to poor reviews
It’s pretty impossible to improve your reputation if there’s something internally that’s causing poor reviews to keep rolling in more often than you’d prefer. Really, it happens to all of us – sometimes, someone or something just isn’t working. Use it as a learning experience, fix it, and move on.
3. Encourage new reviews
Consistently getting new reviews is extremely important. Remember that stat from above? Consumers require an average of 40 online reviews before believing a business’s star rating is accurate. 40!! That’s a big number. In addition to that, 40% of consumers only take into account reviews written within the past 2 weeks. These are real numbers from a survey, people! Clearly, consumers value a lot of reviews – recent reviews.
4. Use social media to your advantage
In 2019, it’s time to think of social media as your friend. Think of it as a great marketing channel, not as a burden – just something to manage. Really, social media provides so many great opportunities to connect with your community, show how awesome you are to potential new customers, and even advertise your products or services.
When working on getting new reviews, make sure to try for some on your top social networks (like Facebook and Yelp, perhaps) in addition to Google. Be active on your profiles. Use it to help your cause.
5. Use your positive reviews as marketing material
When people say awesome things about you, use it to your advantage! Flaunt those great reviews. Put them in your email marketing, mention them on your website, throw them into a website widget, print them on marketing materials. You earned those!
6. Cultivate relationships with customers
Repeat customers are going to turn into evangelists for your business. We talk about a lot of online marketing ideas, but word-of-mouth is nothing to laugh at. It happens most often in the online space these days, but it’s still also an offline marketing tactic. Encourage repeat visits, be awesome to your customers, and it’ll happen naturally! You can also try implementing a referral program.
It’s clear that poor reviews can affect your bottom line in a negative way, while positive ones can launch your business into awesomeness. Use our tips above to use online reputation marketing to your advantage and reap the rewards of a stellar reputation!