The 4 Definitive Ways to Sell Reputation & Review Monitoring… And Why Reviews are More Important Than Ever

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VendAsta is releasing its 2014 SMB Digital Marketing Benchmarks in a few weeks. A glimpse into the research on reviews illustrates the continuing trend with reviews and the opportunity it’s creating for SMB solution providers.

Online reviews are driving consumer decision making more than ever, and that means they are driving online conversion for local SMBs. The data is clear: 85% of consumers say they read online reviews for local businesses — up from 76% in 2012 (2013 Local Consumer Review Survey), and 67% of consumers read six reviews or less. This usually means the most recent reviews will be the most important. Furthermore, about 88% have been influenced by an online customer service review when making a buying decision (Zendesk), emphasizing the importance of reviews with establishing customer trust.

Review Volumes are Rising

While the consumption of reviews continues to trend upwards, so does the creation of these posts. VendAsta’s measurement of 100,000 business locations shows that the average number of reviews written about the typical business has increased 81% from 2011 to 2013.

Selling Point #1: Business categories that receive a high number of reviews have a simple problem of keeping up with new customer comments. Given that the most recent 6 or so reviews are the most important, they must keep on top of new arrivals. A platform that helps businesses stay on top of all these sources and comments will help them boost customer confidence and improve conversion.

Despite Increase in Volume, Many Business Don’t Generate Enough Reviews

Contrary to the overall increase, the average number of reviews per business across all verticals still remains surprisingly low. Number of reviews per business varies greatly depending on the vertical and the market.
Selling Point # 2: These businesses with low review volumes face the reality that each review is very important, especially if readers tend to linger around the top half dozen on the list. With low volumes, overall rating drastically changes by a small number of negative reviews as well.

Selling Point #3: Some of the local search ranking factors listed by include the quanitity of reviews, the velocity of new reviews, the authority and the diversity of reviews. In short, generating reviews and generating positive reviews from a variety of sources aids your foundational search placement. This means from Financial Services to Retail, all local businesses could use some help making sure more of their customers leave reviews.

Shaping Customer Service with Online Reviews to Boost Conversion

We know that customer service is important but exactly how important is customer service and the overall experience? People Claim indicated 90% of consumers will not return or reuse a business if they had a negative experience, but a whopping 19 out of 20 consumers will return to a business if their issue was resolved quickly and efficiently. According to a 2013 survey by Zendesk, the impact of customer service, good or bad, is long lasting. More than two years after a positive customer service experience, about 24% of participants continued to change their buying behaviour. Negative customer service had even larger long term impacts, with about 39% of participants continuing to change their buying behaviours more than two years past a negative incident.

Selling Point #4: Online reviews contain a wealth of knowledge about what kind of experience the business is creating for its customers. Moreover, they contain a wealth of knowledge for business owners on how their employees are performing and highlight where some management efforts must be placed. Perhaps the most noteworthy selling point about online reviews is that they provide immediate feedback for business owners — something everyone is constantly seeking.

A World of Opportunities

We believe there is a huge opportunity for digital agencies to offer review monitoring and management products that can make it easy for SMBs to nurture their online reputation and promptly respond to and learn from consumer feedback.

Our extensive report, Digital Marketing Benchmarks 2014, delves into more detail on reviews, local business listings, SMB social media usage and websites. We’ll be releasing it in a few weeks — sign up below to be the first to receive it.

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Jeff Tomlin

Jeff Tomlin keeps his hand on the pulse and eye on the ball, and don't mix those two up. As our CMO, Jeff is responsible for aligning all marketing programs, from content strategy to advertising, email campaigns to public relations. Developing a strategy for effective lead generation through intense content marketing and (maybe-too-thorough) data analyzing, Jeff drives a motivated marketing team to fuel Vendasta's sales pipeline.

  • Great article for those offering these services to their clients! Google as well as other online research sources are beginning to highlight the reviews of your friends in the search results when you are logged in. Companies understand that you want information from the people you trust and they know how influential it is in the decision-making process. A Nielsen study found that “92 percent of consumers around the world say they trust “earned media”, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.”
    As for Selling Point #3 on ranking factors, will reviews increase rank on the search engines? They should. However, that’s not to say that reviews alone will get you to the first page. I have seen listings with not a single review rank well in the midst of listings with many reviews. I have seen added reviews not move a listing to a higher position. I have seen listings with over a hundred reviews not show on the front page. Several Local SEOs seem to believe that it will help rank but it may be a case of correlation vs. causation. What matters here is that REAL (not fake or paid) customers are talking about your business. Local buzz about a business should be a valuable part of the ranking algorithm used by Google and others to deliver the most relevant results. Understand that many factors are at play here and reviews are not going to solve all your ranking problems by themselves but they are a great start and more importantly, will go along way to increasing your conversion rates and revenue!

    • Kushal Sharma

      Thanks for stopping by Klint. I absolutely agree that authentic reviews go a long way towards improving conversions. As to ranking higher in search, as you say, a number of other things come also into play besides reviews — having accurate listings, a mobile-friendly website, good social media presence, etc. With the direction in which Google’s updates are headed, any business that doesn’t offer a good experience to their customer online is going to suffer in rankings.