Being an entrepreneur, your reputation is one of the most valuable assets you can have right now. The things people say about a retail company is very important and this is especially true with what customers say on the Web.

 Smart retailers listen to feedback – and this can mean having to monitor online reviews from them. You might think that online reviews are just a minor piece in the bigger picture but more and more shoppers are actually relying on these when deciding to buy something. In fact, at least 90% of customers in today’s digital world say that their decisions were influenced by the same reviews.

 There are several reasons why online reviews are crucial. They come with major implications because of their ability to affect your:

  • Rankings in local search
  • Search results that come up and get clicked on
  • Customer buying decisions

This basically makes online reviews as critical as your SEO strategy in developing citations and doing on-site optimisation.



How Do Consumers Use Online Reviews?


Before diving into the statistics on how online reviews affect consumer purchases, it’s first important to consider where these business reviews fit in the overall purchasing cycle.

 Normally, when someone has already started checking out review websites, they already know what they are looking for and how a certain business could fulfil  their needs. One thing you should note is that the mental gap from reading a review to making a decision is very small. Basically customers decide right away whether they will buy or not. As a business, the online reputation you have can straight away influence your bottom line.

 What exactly are the numbers for consumers who read online reviews? Well, according to one survey, more than 80% of shoppers trust online business reviews just like how they would for personal recommendations. Besides that, the majority of consumers also read at least four reviews before they can trust a company.

 The consumers are also changing the way they approach positive reviews. Once they’ve read one, customers would now less likely check out another company right away. Although this may affect you, customers reading positive reviews will most probably contact you or even visit your shop in person.


Do Online Reviews Matter for Local SEO?


The review websites provide people with accurate information on businesses so that they can help them decide whether or not they want to buy something from a certain company. The faster they are able to do this, the more consumers that are encouraged to buy from them.

 According to a Local Search Ranking survey from Moz, online reviews are believed to make up around 10% of how search engines decide in ranking their search results.


Developing a Review Acquisition Strategy


Now that you have a better idea of how reviews can benefit you, let’s take a look at how you can start making a review acquisition strategy.

Leverage the Right Review Sites

Before making your review acquisition strategy that will work for your company, it’s usually a great idea to consider which review platforms and websites would be best for your needs.

 In order to determine this, you can start by doing a search on Google using “[Industry] + reviews” to see what websites show up on the first page. Another thing you can do is to hover over the leading results and two arrows will show up allowing you to open the “Knowledge Panel” on that business. You can then see the sites that are listed under “more reviews.”

 Keep in mind that not all online review platforms syndicate their reviews on search engines. Some of them are actually exclusive so it won’t benefit your SEO that much.


Know the Review Website Posting Policies


It’s also important that you understand the various review policies on each review website that will be required of you. For instance, Yelp doesn’t allow small businesses to solicit online reviews and they will act immediately if they notice anything suspicious. On the other hand, other sites and platforms don’t have problems with businesses doing this.


Extra Tips to Acquire Customer Reviews

Here are some quick tips to get you started:

  • Link your review profiles on your e-commerce website
  • Make print materials which list all the various sites customers can leave a review for your business
  • Teach your staff and yourself on how to solicit reviews from customers
  • Ask a “Find Us on Yelp” if you don’t have their “People Love Us On Yelp” sticker already

Managing Your Online Reputation


Once you’ve started getting customer reviews, you will need to start managing your online reputation. What you can do is to set up a service such as Google Alerts so you will be notified each time your company has been mentioned online. You can then be more proactive in online reputation management.

 What you want to avoid is getting mad at seeing the first negative review about your business. You instead should contact the review platform or website and ask them if they can have it removed.

 Rather than let your emotions get the best of you, try and deal with these negative online reviews as any general criticism. Think of it as a conversation where you can always go in, talk about it and perhaps offer your customer something to make up for their dissatisfaction.

 Another thing you’ll need to keep an eye out for is that these negative reviews should be used by you and your team as a catalyst for improvement. Every criticism is a way for you to identify possible mistakes in your operations that can be changed right now.

 This can then lead to meetings with your staff and brainstorming sessions on how you can improve your products or services, customer support, policies and the like. You can indeed learn a lot by listening to the feedback you get from your consumers.

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