Why Are Online Reviews So Important for Small Businesses?
When most people think about making an online purchase, looking for a new service, or visiting a new restaurant, they do a little bit of research first. With the world becoming more and more digital, this is becoming more of a habit for many people. One thing a lot of people find themselves doing, and likely you do too, is looking at online reviews. People are interested in knowing things like:
It’s incredibly useful to go through questions such as these and figure out what others’ experiences are. And whether you are actively aware of it or not, these reviews tend to significantly influence buying decisions.
How does this affect your small business?
People are looking at your business online and comparing you with your competitors. The company with the best online reviews is most likely getting the most clicks, inquiries, and sales.
Why are online reviews so important?
Even the best businesses are going to face at least one negative review and unhappy customer at some point. There are just some people out there that can never be satisfied.
Well, there is no way to get rid of it unless the review is entirely false, and you have proof. So, what can you do instead?
You have to overshadow the negative review with lots of positive ones. Many review systems use a star rating, with 1 Star being bad and 5 Stars being excellent. However, your overall score is an average of all your reviews.
It really comes down to how many reviews you have. If you don’t have any reviews, just one bad review can really hurt your online reputation. However, if you have lots of good reviews, one negative one means a lot less and has a lot less effect on your overall score.
This is why it’s crucial to ask for reviews! It’s time to get ahead of the game and get started with positive reviews – before letting one negative review dampen your online reputation.
Get started by collecting positive reviews from your biggest fans, supporters, and customers. Try your best to fill your online channels with 4- and 5-Star reviews. That way, when you inevitably get that unhappy customer, their voice won’t be so loud.
No matter how amazing your business is, eventually, you will find that someone has left you a negative review. Rather than playing catch-up and repairing damage that has already been done, you’ll have a much better chance of creating and maintaining a great online reputation if you start now.
Remember, it’s about the average score of your reviews. So, the more positive feedback you can collect, the higher your average score will be.
And when you do get that bad review at some point, don’t fret too much! It’s actually ok to have a small percentage of bad reviews. We’re all human here, and when we look at reviews online, we want them to be authentic. A less-than-satisfactory review shows that not only are the reviews genuine but that you’re human too.
A negative review is also an opportunity. Now is your time to respond to your feedback and make any necessary changes to things that may have attributed to the negative experience.
How to Manage Your Online Reputation
Your business’s online reputation is essential to its success. If you haven’t started asking for reviews already, the best thing you can do is start now. Here are some steps you can take to manage your online reputation:
Research Your Business
Before you can really do anything, you need to find out what is already being said about your company, products, and services online. You might not even be aware of some of the positive or negative feedback people are leaving.
There are lots of places your business can show up online. Start by Googling your business name and see what comes up. The higher up on the search results these review platforms are, the more likely customers are to see them and click on them. This means you’ll want to focus on the results near the top of the first page and then work your way down the list.
Here are some common places your business may be listed:
- Google (Google My Business)
- Yahoo! Local Listings
- Trip Advisor
- Yellow Pages
- Angie’s List
- Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- Trust Pilot
- Four Square
However, there are a lot of other places your business could be listed as well, even industry-specific ones.
Once you find these listings, see what your profile looks like on them. Is your business information current and correct? Are there any reviews for your business?
Claim Your Business Listings
Some review websites will curate a business listing without you having to do anything. While this is nice and saves you some time, they can be filled with inaccurate information. You don’t want to give potential customers false or outdated information about your company.
While it can be a bit of a pain, it’s essential that you claim your business listings when you can. Some review sites make it challenging to do so and pester you about signing up for additional paid services, which in most cases, are not necessary.
Just do the best you can. Most likely, you won’t be able to gain control of all your business listings, but don’t let this stop you altogether. Even if you only manage to claim a few of your business listings, that’s better than nothing!
Ask for Reviews
Even if your happiest customers and biggest fans aren’t currently going out of their way to dote on your business, that doesn’t mean they won’t. The easiest way to collect more reviews is to simply ask for them. Customers who are truly happy with your business, products, and services will usually be happy to provide some feedback. By asking them for their opinion, you’re also showing these people that what they think matters to you. It really is a great situation for everyone!
How can I ask for reviews?
Need help getting some more reviews? Here are a few tips:
- Make it simple for people to leave feedback by providing them with a direct link to your business profile, so they don’t have to spend time searching for it.
- Your customers are more likely to follow through with writing a review if they know how important it is. So, tell your customers what these reviews mean to your business.
- If you have people who haven’t completed a review after a few days, send them a follow-up note and ask if the link you sent worked or if they were able to find your profile. This provides them with a gentle reminder.
- Thank customers for their reviews when they leave them, and they may leave another one for you in the future!
There are a few things you’ll want to make sure you avoid, though, such as:
- While it’s perfectly acceptable to ask a customer for a review after a good experience with your business, you don’t want to be too pushy. Many customers will be happy to leave a review, but some won’t want to, and that’s ok. Don’t bug them about it!
- Don’t incentivize your review process by offering discounts or something free for a good review. Your customers will see right through this and may be put off from leaving you a review.
- Don’t post your own reviews. Some review platforms, such as Yelp, are great at finding these fake reviews and will actually punish your listing for it. It’s just not a good idea.
We hope these tips will help start you down the right path for creating and managing your online reputation. However, if you have any questions or need help with your online reputation, you can reach out to us!
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Let’s grow the online reputation of your business today.
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