Embrace Online Reviews Before They Destroy Your Business: Part 1

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online review sitesOnline review sites like Yelp and Google+ are becoming extremely influential in the way people spend their money in the modern world. These sites allow consumers to share their experiences with other shoppers, diners, and audience members on a global scale. The concept of “word of mouth” marketing is no longer reserved for office gossip and friendly phone calls. People are sharing their opinions with thousands of other potential customers instantly through the internet.

As a business owner, you can either accept the changes to come or you can choose to ignore them. Businesses that choose to the latter are often left with a closed sign on their windows in less than a year. The fact is that you cannot escape the powerful grip online review sites have over your business. You might as well embrace it and find ways to use it to your advantage.

How Influential Are Online Reviews?

If you doubt the sheer power of online customer reviews, these statistics may change your mind:

  • 88% of consumers have made a buying decision based on an online customer service review (Zendesk)
  • 73% of consumers are more likely to trust a business with positive reviews (BrightLocal)
  • 95% share bad experiences with others, while only 87% share good experiences (Zendesk)
  • 79% trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations (BrightLocal)

The takeaway from all of that information is the fact that people are using review sites actively, both for sharing information and for making decisions about their purchases. Appeal to the masses and you’ll be rewarded. Fail to please your customers, and you may lose business very quickly.

Using Online Reviews To Change Your Customer Service Strategy And Improve Your Internet Marketing

Now that you know just how big of a deal online reviews are these days, you can make the system work to your advantage. You can use Yelp to grow your business and create a positive reputation for your company online. The key to doing this is to give the customers what they want and encourage them to share their positive experiences with others online. The BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey showed that consumers value these traits:

  • 71% said reliability was most important trait for local businesses (up from 64% in 2012)
  • 45% said that good value was another influential trait when selecting a local business
  • Less than 10% valued friendliness, localness, or courtesy as a top priority

Does this mean that you can dish out crappy customer service and still stay in business? Of course not. At the end of the day though, people want to know that they are getting a good value and consistent service from the businesses they work with. If your online reviews are riddled with complaints about late deliveries or overpriced merchandise, chances are you aren’t going to draw in new customers any time soon.

To learn how to adjust your internet marketing campaign to levy the power of online review sites, check out Part 2 of this guide.

Christopher Bower is a Member and Marketing Director of Detroit Internet Marketing, LLC and brings over 20 years' experience in marketing and online marketing. His education includes Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Marketing, and has been involved in both national and local marketing in Chicago, South Florida and Michigan.

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