There’s a lot of fluff out there about online reviews (and other subjects) written from theoretical perspectives. I’m not a cynical guy (or maybe I’m becoming one), but I’m getting a bit disenfranchised with the endless listicles in the SERPs dreamt-up from a blogger’s intuition, rather than from fact.
While they might offer a logical viewpoint, it’s largely unfounded—and further to that, we’re talking about consumerism here; how people spend money is anything but rational, so there’s very little merit to their argument from the onset. Anyways, I just want to clarify the information in this article is built from hard data and trustworthy industry metrics.
Okay, air cleared.
As a writer at Vendasta, I’ve developed a structure in which I write all of my content. With everything I put down on paper, I am aim to provide agencies market knowledge about topics pertinent to their business; a story to sell that knowledge; and a vehicle to fulfill the sale. Today, we’ll be exploring a marketing channel that’s blowing up in the local space and how it applies to you, as well as your clients—online reviews.
Key takeaways from this article:
- Knowledge of why online reviews are important
- Why your clients need them
- How to get them without hassle
- How you can provide them
Why online reviews are important
If you’ve ever bought something online, more than likely you read a few reviews about the product you purchased—and in some shape or form, they had an impact on your buying decision. Online reviews have that kind of power—whether if it’s a shirt that shrinks after the wash or the tacos are amazing, 70% of consumers are making purchasing decisions based on what people are saying online (Nielsen).
So it’s no wonder, one of the fastest growing markets in the local business space is Reputation Management. In 2015, it netted out as a $424M industry. This year, it’s forecasted to triple in size, grossing at $1.3B. At the core of this industry is online reviews—and one of the main, if not the most integral component of reviews is generating them. Here’s why…
Online reviews are proven to drive sales. On average, customer ratings increase sales by 18%, and 90% of people claim positive reviews influence their purchasing decisions (Zendesk).
Big marketing value
Personal referrals have always been the benchmark for best marketing channel. Now they have a cohort; 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (BrightLocal).
Reviews have big value in local search rankings—out of hundreds of Google SEO ranking factors, reviews are rated the fifth most important. The more reviews a business has, the higher they climb in local search listings (MoZ).
Online reviews provide an opportunity for businesses to join the conversation and engage the customer. Site visitors who interact with both reviews and customer questions and answers are 105% more likely to purchase while visiting (Bazaarvoice).
Reviews are a great yardstick for what a business is doing well and what they’re doing poorly. Seeing how customers react to products and services provide insights into how a business should market their offering.
Having fresh and relevant reviews directly impacts sales conversions, as 63% of consumers are more likely to buy from a site with current product ratings (iPerceptions).
These six key marketing drivers are a perfect ignition point to get a conversation started with clients, and proof there is an imminent need for online reviews. We’ve got a ton of literature and data that gets further into it, and one of our Reputation Specialists would love to share with you, but for now, let’s continue on to the sales vehicle.
How do local businesses get more online reviews?
If you look at the various online tips and hacks on how to get more reviews, it seems like there’s a lot of effort for a little return. Asking customers for feedback face-to-face, social media contests for best comments, physical takeaway cards requesting feedback, directing customers to different sites to share reviews are all processes that aren’t really sane, let alone scalable. They’re not only difficult to perform, they’re nearly impossible to measure and manage.
Okay, so you probably know where this is going… this is a corporate blog, and while we don’t sell on here, the best way for me to articulate how businesses can generate reviews in a scalable fashion (with proven ROI) is through the concept of a product we recently released, geniously named, Review Generation.
With technology like Review Generation, local business owners can easily solicit feedback from consumers via email, either by uploading a list of customer contacts and/or messaging clients one-to-one. The return on this has been awesome—the average business requesting reviews is experiencing a 36% conversion rate from emails opened (25%) to reviews left (10%).
So for every 100 requests, a business is receiving 10 reviews, at which 77% of them are 5-star rated and 11% are 4-star. That’s nine positive reviews for your client, which is great news, as positive reviews influence 9 out of 10 people’s buying decision (Zendesk).
Further to the email component, customers love the added conversion point with widgets that are embedded into their website(s) with a simple field for requesting reviews.
Not all reviews are created equal. Some are business-makers (+) and others are business-killers (-). Generating reviews is only half of the equation. The other half is being able to monitor and manage them. With products like Review Generation, the tool alerts business owners the moment a review is received—if it’s positive, the owner is encouraged to share it across major review sites like Facebook and Yelp, as well as other vertical-specific sites (e.g., Edmunds and TripAdvisor).
Of course, any reviews submitted back to the business are not publicly posted, providing the owner a buffer for negative feedback, which allows them to manage it behind closed doors and averting potential reputation disaster.
Reputation products like Review Generation are critical in today’s business environment and are essential for the agency tool belt. Businesses need a steady flow of reviews to stay ahead of the competition, as consumers also pay attention to the quantity of reviews, with 88% forming an opinion by reading ten or more (BrightLocal).
I hope I’ve given you enough ammo to have the Online Reviews talk with your clients. You can reach out to me personally for more insights about Review Generation firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out our Reputation Management product as a whole below. See ya next time.