In terms of impact on purchase behavior and business performance, online reviews posted by customers on websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, Zomato, and Facebook (among many others) are one of the most powerful, persuasive forms of content today.
Reviews can also boost — or destroy — your brand reputation.
If you think about it, a negative or highly critical review is not unlike having a dissatisfied customer with a sign “Don’t go in here!” stand in front of your store or business location. Positive reviews and customer feedback, meanwhile, can drive customers straight to your door — perhaps more effectively than with an all-out advertising blitz or PR and social media campaign.
This is another way of saying that online reviews should be a top priority for marketing executives and business owners hoping to improve performance through reputation management tactics or an online reputation management service.
How Reviews Affect Your Online Reputation
Let’s look at some useful stats culled from recent research studies on online reviews:
- Path to purchase: 4 in 5 American consumers read online reviews before making a purchase decision. And 57 percent will avoid a business that has negative reviews and ratings.
- Research, awareness, and discovery: 83 percent of shoppers discover new products every month through peer-to-peer reviews and social media; reviews and recommendations are their foremost sources of information.
- Trust: Reviews inspire twice as much trust as general social networking “likes” — and for 72 percent of consumers, online reviews are as trustworthy as personal recommendations made by friends and family.
- Customer interaction and engagement: Businesses that actively manage reviews attract consumers that have 30 to 40 percent more interaction with revenue-driving products; they also generate 4 times more page views and 63 percent higher popularity rankings.
- Brand visibility and search performance: 800 words of review text can make up as much as 70 percent of fresh content for a brand page, which search engines will reward with higher search results. Reviews can also influence up to 10 percent of a business’ search ranking.
- Relevance: The shelf life of online reviews is longer than the shelf life of tweets and Facebook posts. 18 minutes is the median lifespan of a tweet, and 75 percent of engagement on a Facebook post occurs within the first 5 hours. But content found in reviews stay relevant for as long as 3 months.
As you incorporate online reviews and customer feedback into your online reputation management service and strategy, it’s helpful to know and anticipate a few of the challenges and hurdles your business may face.
Challenges in Online Reputation Management, and Keys to Success
Manual doesn’t solve it — especially if you’re managing an enterprise brand or multi-location business.
At the start, you may be able to get away with manually tracking and responding to the five or six Yelp reviews you receive every week. But not for long. As you continue to build your online reputation and increase the visibility of your brand, you’ll likely generate more reviews — and have less time to manage all of them.
The key is to find the right technology partner or online reputation management service — one that’s able to automatically track and consolidate all your online reviews data, for all your business locations, across all relevant review websites. That way, you can save time and stay efficient — without ever missing another new review.
The landscape is vast and it’s not easy to always be on top of customer feedback.
The number of online review sites continues to grow every day. Many social media channels (Facebook and Foursquare, for example) also collect and publish reviews and customer feedback. And if your business belongs in a specific category or industry, you’ll also have to be aware of what customers are saying on niche websites and channels: say, OpenTable and Zomato for restaurants, Edmunds and Cars.com for automotive, and Vitals and Healthgrades for healthcare.
Planting your flag, so to speak, on all these digital properties is a must. This means that your online reputation management strategy will also have to involve scoping out the entire reviews and feedback landscape, claiming and updating your business listings, and responding to reviews. If your brand can stay active and engaged in all the places where your reputation is on the line, you’ll be in a great position to succeed.
Without analytical tools, you can’t achieve a complete understanding of the customer.
Beyond the star ratings they come with, online reviews often contain information that can be incredibly useful for your business.
This information can reveal high-impact customer insights, issues, and trends, as well as introduce opportunities for refining your brand messaging and fostering service and operational improvements.
Simply put: reviews help you better understand customers: their wants, their needs, their experiences, their expectations.
That’s why it’s useful to be equipped with proper analytical tools when executing your online reputation management strategy. With these tools, you can make sense of massive amounts of customer-generated data, and you can act on these new insights in ways that strengthen your brand reputation.
Smart marketers and business owners know that reviews and customer feedback play a central role in shaping online reputation. And while there are a number of challenges that come with trying to stay on top of what customers are saying online, you don’t necessarily have to be tormented by any of it. Make review management an investment priority, and you’ll soon be on your way to building a winning 5-star reputation.