Customer reviews are very influential and can increase sales more than paid advertising, however, good online reviews can be hard to get at times.
There is nothing on this planet that someone will not try to develop an idea about a local business without asking a friend, reading an online review or go on a quick online search. The more positive reviews a business has, the more trustworthy it becomes. That in return, gives customers who first discover your brand online a certain level of trust that plays a part in increasing your conversion from online search to offline sales (aka foot traffic).
Today, reviews are ever more important. It’s so much easier to get feedback with social media playing a key role in decision making. Consumers leave reviews on Google, Zomato or ClassPass as well as on social media platforms like Facebook and foursquare, which can significantly help a buyer make an informed choice!
Prior to social media evolution, a few media houses controlled the brand narrative and it was possible for brands to manipulate their messaging. But now, brands have less power as consumers vote with their online star rating and reviews.
Positive reviews can bump up your search engine ranking.
If a costumer searches for a restaurant or a clothing store online, there is a high likelihood that a local business with a high star rating and big volume of reviews will show up first on search engine rankings and get the most clicks. Google’s local search ranking algorithm uses several signals to decide the most relevant results to show first. Besides proximity, keyword query relevancy (e.g., sushi or French bistro), the average star rating relative to similar businesses in the vicinity and volume of reviews are some of the main drivers to achieving higher search engine ranking.
Quantity of reviews is paramount!
This one is simple and straightforward, if a brand has more reviews, it means that more people have voted with their star rating and thumbs ups. This is called the wisdom of the crowd, a local business with a 5-star rating but only has 15 reviews is far less trustworthy than a 4-star business with 150 reviews. And Google search algorithm is designed to take this human behavior into account and show the most trustworthy local business first to users. To achieve this, brands need to put in place a systematic way of asking customers to leave a review on a regular basis. For example, you can send a Rate Us card with every food delivery asking the customer to scan a QR code that’s linked to a feedback landing page that has links to your various review listing sites.
Negative reviews can also boost sales!
Unlike what’s commonly believed, negative reviews can be utilized to reinforce a brand’s reputation, and thus gain consumer trust, if handled correctly. A negative review is an opportunity to impress and show your true colors, not only to the dissatisfied customers but also to new customers that are judging you by how you’ve handled a complaint. Remember, you are not only responding to the original reviewer but also to future customers who read 10 reviews on average before being able to trust a local business.
The takeaway here is, the better service you provide the higher your online average rating will be. But to really win in this omnichannel game, the better you should be at consistently acquiring more positive reviews. This makes your local business more discoverable on search engines and rank higher than your competition. As a result, more people will check out your online listing page (e.g., Google Map or TripAdvisor), call to make an order or get direction to visit your business and buy from you.