A common misconception in digital marketing is that online reviews only matter to the most obvious customer-facing businesses, such as restaurants and hotels.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Although it can be challenging to manage online reviews because of the massive amount of time it takes, you should be paying attention to what people are saying about your brand online.
In 2019 and beyond, every business should be actively monitoring, responding to and cultivating online reviews regardless of what industry they are in.
When it comes to reviews, every single one matters, even the negative ones. Many consumers take online reviews as seriously as a personal referral.
Here are some of the top reasons why you should encourage and interact with online reviews.
Online Reviews Impact Consumer Behavior
Regardless of what industry you are in, online reviews can greatly swing a potential customer’s opinion about a brand or product.
In a report by Forbes, 90% of respondents said positive online comments influence whether or not they decide to engage with the brand or service. When you take into account that 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses, that’s a massive amount of people interacting with online reviews in some capacity.
Simply put, if your business is not investing in some kind of online reputation management, you are ignoring what is most often the first impression a potential customer has with your brand.
Take a moment and look for your business on Google or a different listings site. What do your current reviews say about your business? If you were a consumer, how would those comments inform your buying decisions?
Online Reviews for All
This is a common misconception many businesses have. While there is no doubt that online reviews greatly impact the restaurant industry, they greatly affect other industries as well.
For example, a 2017 survey from J Turner found that 75% of searchers use apartment listing sites during their search and 80% visit the property website before contacting a property.
In fact, online reviews impact almost industry including:
- Insurance agents
- Car repair
- Financial advising/services
- Home repair
And certainly, many others as well. If you aren’t paying attention to what people are saying about you online, there’s a really good chance your competition is, which means you may be losing ground with customers.
All Reviews Matter: Even the Bad Ones
When consumers are looking for a product or service online, they aren’t just looking for a business with perfect reviews: they are looking at the volume of reviews and how recent the reviews are.
Having a lot of reviews shows that people are willing to take time out of their day to talk about how your product or service either satisfied them or left them disappointed. That shows engagement. At the end of the day, that is what most searchers are looking for.
And they aren’t the only ones.
Google uses online reviews to influence local search rankings including:
- Number of recent reviews
- Total volume of reviews
- Average star rating
In fact, if someone searches “best *insert your industry here* in *insert your current location,*” only businesses with a 4-star rating or higher will show up in the search results if there are enough businesses that fit that criteria.
Negative reviews aren’t something to be taken lightly, but most consumers are smart enough to know that hiccups and negative interactions happen from time to time. According to the same BrightLocal study, only 40% of consumers said that they were influenced by negative reviews.
This means that consumers are more concerned about positive than negative reviews, which is great news for any business.
Negative reviews also give you the ability to identify areas for improvement in the consumer experience. Listening to what your consumers are saying means you have the ability to turn a negative into a positive.
If you are worried about how to best handle negative reviews, we recommend checking out this guide on how to respond to negative reviews.
Get Your Review Strategy Underway
Now that you know why all online reviews matter, it’s time to get your own reputation management program underway. To get started, we recommend looking at our webinars where you can get more information about our reputation management solutions and more information about how online reviews impact your specific industry.
You can also check out our extensive case studies on how we’ve helped many multifamily facilities and healthcare companies improve their reputation management and consumer engagement rates.
About the Author
Content Marketing Specialist