When was the last time you purchased something from the internet, and how did you decide which item to get or which brand to purchase from? Did you ask for advice from a friend or a family member?
For most customers, online reviews are the way to go. In an oversaturated platform like the internet, competition can be high and the options are too many to count. To help them make a good purchasing decision, wise consumers turn to what previous customers have to say about a brand or a product. These third-party comments they turn to for more information about a specific business or product are called online reviews.
What are online reviews?
Online reviews are feedback left by previous customers that can be used as a marketing strategy to encourage potential customers to purchase or do business with you.
They can appear as comments or stars on business websites, product pages, social media platforms, and customer review sites.
What are the most important online review sites?
Online review sites are popular places to find and manage customer reviews. Here are some of the most well-known sites where customers leave feedback about a business or a brand:
Google remains to be the most popular search engine today. In fact, according to reports, 60% of customers research or look up a business and its corresponding customer feedback through Google Reviews before they make a visit.
Google Reviews appear on top of the search results when you search for a business. Here, you can see star ratings and comments left by previous customers, along with important business information such as their location and contact number.
Facebook is also one of the most popular platforms for businesses and consumers alike. Since it is a social networking site, this platform remains to be one of the most effective places to discover new businesses and products.
Facebook reviews commonly known as “Facebook Recommendations” appear on business pages to help build a brand’s reputation. Just like Google Reviews, customers can leave star ratings and feedback on a business page to share their experience with the brand.
Yelp is another top online directory for local businesses where customers can discover new places such as restaurants, bars, hair salons, spas, and even medical clinics. Just like the previously mentioned platforms, Yelp also allows customers to leave star ratings, comments, and photos to encourage or discourage other people from visiting a specific business.
Better Business Bureau
Trustpilot is also a popular online review platform where consumers can leave star ratings and feedback for businesses so other customers can shop with confidence. Like other online review platforms, Trustpilot can be helpful for businesses to build a reputation. The more positive reviews left by previous customers, the better chances of converting new prospective customers.
TripAdvisor is considered to be the biggest travel site. Besides travel advice, TripAdvisor is also a directory for businesses in the travel sector such as hotels, restaurants, bars, cruises, and many more. It hosts customer reviews and star ratings so travelers can make better travel itineraries and better travel decisions.
Capterra, on the other hand, is a great online directory for the best business software and digital tools. Just like any review platform, Capterra compares software and leaves ratings and reviews for users who need help choosing the right software for their needs.
Industry review sites
Why reviews are important for customers
Humans are social beings. Before we trust something, whether a product or a service, we like to seek others’ opinions about it. It helps make the decision-making process a lot easier when other people talk about their experiences and validate your choice.
Here are other reasons why reviews are important for customers:
Provide social proof
Social proof is the psychological phenomenon where we tap into other people’s actions and use them to influence ours. In marketing, social proof is used as a tool to build trust.
Essentially, this concept suggests that humans tend to look around and copy other people’s behavior if they are unsure of what to do. This is the reason why people join bandwagons, trends, or activities that people look up to participate in.
Build brand trust
Online reviews validate expertise
When previous customers confirm a restaurant’s food tastes good, they validate the business and its expertise. Similarly, for other businesses, online reviews can help confirm their credibility and quality. Online reviews prove your claims and help influence buying decisions.
They are a great source of information for consumers
Most customers like to do a little research about a brand, product, or service before making the purchase because they want to make sure they get their money’s worth. This is why online reviews are a great source of information for customers trying to make a decision.
Make better buying decisions
From star ratings and comments to photos, online reviews help customers know what to expect from a business. With this, they are able to make better buying decisions and get a positive experience.
Why are online reviews important for businesses?
Online reviews are not just helpful for consumers. They are also important for businesses. Here are a few common reasons why businesses should pay attention to online reviews:
Influence purchasing decisions
Good reviews encourage customers to make a purchase. Meanwhile, bad reviews can hurt a brand’s reputation. As a tool for social proof, online reviews are important when it comes to influencing customers’ purchasing decisions.
Online reviews help confirm the authority
The more reviews a brand or business has, the more likely customers are to trust them. This is because customers look at other peoples’ behavior as a reference for their own. If they think other customers were pleased with their experience with a specific brand, they become more confident in your claims and trust you as an expert or authority in your industry.
Great reviews increase sales
Reviews can improve your search engine rankings
Besides influencing customer behavior, customer reviews can also help boost your business’ SEO efforts. Great reviews signify credibility, signaling to search engines that people trust your business. This allows search engines such as Google to rank your website higher in search results.
Reviews help you better understand your customers
Positive reviews help you improve customer satisfaction
Customers like it when they feel heard. Allowing customers to leave reviews help businesses take the necessary information to not only understand their customers but also to work on improving their products and services.
The disadvantages of online customer reviews
Online customer reviews are generally helpful for both businesses and consumers. However, there are some things businesses should consider when it comes to online customer reviews. Here are some disadvantages of online reviews:
- Too many negative reviews can impact a customer’s perception of your business.
- Added costs when for third-party online review platforms
- Online reviews can be inaccurate on other platforms
- Old reviews can be out of date
How to manage online reviews
Unfortunately, allowing online reviews and managing them is not as easy as it looks like. Just like with other customer service efforts, businesses need to be careful when it comes to handling feedback so as not to damage their reputation.
Here are some ways to manage online reviews for better customer satisfaction:
- Respond right away. Customers do not appreciate late responses, especially if they are voicing out a concern or a complaint.
- Keep reviews updated. Fresh reviews are important to influence prospective customers better.
- Ask for feedback. Having no reviews is as bad as having a lot of negative reviews. Encourage your customers to leave comments or reviews on your page.
- Call for help. Managing online reviews can take additional time and effort. Reaching out to an online reputation expert such as LeadOrigin can help you stay on top of your customer management efforts.
How to respond to online reviews
Your customers just left an online review. What now? Here are ways to respond to customer feedback online:
How to respond to positive reviews
Don’t forget to thank your customers who leave positive reviews. Not only is this a way to show gratitude for the kind and helpful words, but it also encourages other customers to leave behind positive feedback as well. When they see you appreciate positive comments, they will see a business that cares and values their customers.
How to respond to negative reviews
How to respond to false reviews
Sometimes, people leave false or fake reviews. When this happens, try to validate the review by checking the details mentioned. Once confirmed, address the reviewer and politely clarify the fraudulent review or request that they delete it.
You can also flag the review from the platform or contact a review management expert such as LeadOrigin to help manage your reviews from different platforms so you don’t miss anything.
How to get more online reviews
Take advantage of online reviews and encourage your customers to leave more positive feedback online. Here’s how you can get more of them:
Set up your review profiles
Whether you want to receive reviews on your website, social media pages, or online review platforms, make sure your profiles are set up and all that’s left for your customers to do is write down their experience and ratings.
Reach out to happy customers
After a successful purchase or service, make a follow-up on your customer and try to request for a positive review. You can request for the review in person, through SMS, or through email.
Make it easy for your customers
Leaving online reviews shouldn’t be rocket science. Don’t make the process too complicated for your customers. You can simply send them a link to a review form or the review platform so all they have to do is click and rate.
Thank your customers publicly
Make sure your customers know you appreciate them and that you value their feedback. Once a customer drops a review, share it on your platform or send a reply, thanking them publicly.
Focus on one review platform at a time
Are online reviews trustworthy?
With so many competing businesses online, there is a reason why customers still turn to online reviews before making a purchase. They help them make the best purchasing decisions, and they also help businesses build reputation.
However, with open review platforms, some can argue that online reviews are slowly losing their credibility. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid fake or misleading reviews. Platforms have developed more tools to filter out unhelpful reviews and businesses can also work with online reputation experts to protect their credibility and trustworthiness.
Take advantage of the power of online reviews
An online review can make or break a business’ reputation. This matters because consumers still turn to public opinion when they make important decisions, especially when purchasing something for the first time.
Do not take online reviews for granted. Instead, use it to your advantage and pay attention to what your customers say about you. If you don’t know how to respond to positive and negative feedback, or if you simply do not know where to start, online reputation experts such as LeadOrigin can help you.