Word of mouth has always been the best form of advertising. It still is, but it has taken a different form over the past decade. Accolades of local businesses are still shared over cocktails and at the monthly PTA meeting, but online reviews have taken the spotlight. They are now the ultimate “word of mouth” endorsement. A 2014 study found that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
Without a number of online reviews available for possible viewers, you may miss out on new business. Picture that you own a restaurant. Someone visiting your area is looking for a place to eat, so they search for restaurants that are close to them using their smartphone. Yours, along with three other establishments come up in search results. Yours does not have a single review on Google, Yelp, Facebook or any other online platform. One of the other restaurants has multiple 4 and 5 star reviews.
At that moment, it does not matter if your restaurant has tastier food or a more experienced staff or even a better website: chances are good the consumer will choose one of the other establishments. In fact, 92% of consumers say that they will use a local business if it has at least a 4-star rating. This number is staggering and shows just how much stock consumers now put in online reviews.
Whether your business is a restaurant, a home builder, a car wash or a gift shop, if it lacks online reviews, it looks questionable. Prospective consumers will wonder why there are few or no reviews. Could mean that the business is not popular? Just mediocre? Thoroughly unknown?
Managing negative feedback is just as important as generating positive reviews. When a consumer sees a negative review of a business, the owner has the opportunity to regain the trust of consumers by responding promptly and correctly. Responding shows the audience that the business is actively listening to its patrons and that it cares enough to make things right. (Hint: don’t get into online arguments. Promise to make things right and invite the customer/reviewer to contact you offline.)
So, what do you do if your online pages lack reviews? First, you ask for them, in person and on your social media pages. Loyal, satisfied customers are usually more than happy to help their favorite businesses by taking 5 minutes to write a review. You can guide them to where you want them to go by including links to your Google listing or Yelp page in email correspondence and other online interactions. Make it known that your business is listed on review sites. Include signage in your business that use review site logos.
If you’re at a loss over how to start or don’t have time to manage this aspect of digital marketing, contact BDN Maine and we’ll get you on the right track.