A new USA Today story brought to light once again the increasing impact of online reviews posted on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google+ Local, and Foursquare. It also described how tech-savvy small business owners are managing and monitoring these reviews, engendering software tools designed to enable instant tracking and quick responses.
In “Efficient Small Business: Online reputation crucial for small businesses,” USA Today Tech reporter Roger Yu provided a glimpse of the increasingly proactive approach businesses are taking to enhance their online reputation and stay on top of what customers are saying.
“Industry research shows benign neglect of a company’s online reputation could quickly hurt sales – especially given the new normal behavior of customers consulting their smartphones for even the smallest of purchases,” Yu wrote. “(That’s why) obsessive monitoring of online reviews has become a norm for tech-savvy small-business owners. The burdensome but necessary task has been made even more complex by the emergence of social-media channels…that empower opinionated customers.”
ReviewTrackers, today’s leading online review monitoring tool, shared with USA Today key insights on local marketing and online reputation management. Maria Luangrath, a ReviewTrackers customer and owner of cupcake-delivery shop Foiled Cupcakes, also explained why she found it necessary to engage with customers online.
“If we hadn’t been monitoring it, it would’ve been on our Yelp page for some time,” Maria said. “Being in the food industry, it’s so difficult. Taste is so subjective. Too sweet. Not sweet enough. Too much frosting. Not enough frosting.”
The business impact of online reviews was analyzed in more detail earlier this year, when a Harvard Business School study by Michael Luca showed that a one-star increase in a restaurant’s Yelp rating can lead to a 9 percent revenue increase. Last September, a similar study conducted by two Berkeley economists showed that a half-star improvement in online ratings makes a restaurant 30 to 49 percent more likely to be fully booked during peak dining times.