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Are you excited for the upcoming holiday season?

It promises to be a busy one – not just for gift-giving shoppers, but also for local service-based businesses and retailers. According to a Yelp and Nielsen study, more consumers are prepared to “shop local” this year, as they look for experience-based gifts like tickets to the movies or opera; gift certificates from a delicious restaurant; a free massage or special spa treatment; or free passes to pottery or cooking classes.

Gearing your business up for the holidays, however, isn’t just about adding a few extra lights to your storefront, or creating special holiday items and deals, or handing out Santa Claus hats for your staff to wear. It also means taking care of your business reputation (both offline and online), and making sure that, no matter how busy it gets, you are able to deliver excellent service and create positive experiences for your customers – the kind that they will rave about to fellow consumers.

Manage your online reviews this holiday season 

This brings us to online reviews. Why? Because today, more than anything, reviews serve as indicators of your business reputation and, to a certain extent, performance. Reviews are also the form that modern word of mouth takes: the experiences, comments, and opinions of your customers posted online for other potential customers to see.

Savvy business owners are set to take on a more active role in tracking and managing online reviews this holiday season. These include those in the retail industry, which is influenced heavily by reviews posted on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook, and Foursquare, among many others.

(Check out: “Online Reputation Management Study: How These Two Businesses Responded to Negative Reviews

Here are facts and figures you need to know to fully understand the impact of reviews on retail:

  • According to a study by international market research firm YouGov, 75 percent of Americans consult reviews before making a purchase decision. Meanwhile, a similar report by eMarketer found that 88 percent of Internet users read online reviews in order to determine the quality of a local business.
  • Retailers and e-commerce businesses have embraced reviews as an important part of their strategy, with 73 percent integrating reputation and review management into their social media marketing efforts.
  • A retail study by agency Ryan Partners found that reviews – along with mobile shopping apps and E-mail messages – are considered by consumers today as the most influential shopping tools.
  • According to another study by SEO software company Moz, reviews are 1 of the 5 most important ranking factors for local search today. This means that, whenever potential customers search online for information on local businesses, their search engine results are influenced significantly by review signals, like the number of reviews you have, your aggregated online ratings, and review velocity and diversity.

“Shoppers today interact with brands across channels throughout the purchase process,” said Kim Finnerty, Senior Vice President of Research and Insights at Ryan Partners. “In recent years we’ve seen an increase in the use of digital tools (like online reviews) when it comes to shopping and the influence these tools are having on purchase behavior.”

Here at ReviewTrackers, we specialize in helping local business owners and retailers gather critical data found in online reviews. Simply put: we created a software platform to help you listen and respond to what customers are saying online – on all major review sites. That way, you can more effectively manage your online reputation, even in the middle of a busy holiday season. If you’re looking for support in gearing up your business for the holidays, contact our friendly team today and let us show you the ways we can help!

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.