First off, reviews are important. You obviously want more positive than negative, but negative reviews aren't business busters as long as you reply to them in a timely and respectful manner. Here are a few stats to consider that underscore the overall importance of online reviews for your business (courtesy of BrightLocal):
- 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses (including 95% of people aged 18 to 34)
- Consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business
- 40% of consumers only take into account reviews written within the past 2 weeks — up from 18% last year (2017)
- 57% of consumers will only use a business if it has 4 or more stars
- 80% of 18- to 34-year-olds have written online reviews — compared to just 41% of consumers over 55
- 91% of 18- to 34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- 89% of consumers read businesses' responses to reviews
Wow, if these stats don't convince you that reviews are important, then I don't know what will. Also, as noted above, the younger demographics are getting more involved in online reviews — both reading them and writing them.
But I want to provide a warning here. Reviews are important, but only reviews that you obtain legitimately. And, as noted above, don't sweat negative reviews, instead either report them if they are completely false or reply to them quickly. It's often a business's reply to a negative review that says more about them than the actual review itself.
Here's how not to solicit reviews:
- Review Contests — entering reviewers into a giveaway in exchange for a review
- Offering Free or Discounted Services for Reviews
- Review Swaps — I review you, you review me
- Friends, Family or Co-Worker (Employees of the Business) Reviews
Here's how to properly solicit reviews:
- Ask Clients to Review You — no strings attached
- Inter-Office Contests — challenge employees to reach out to their best clients and provide incentives to the employees who can garner the most in a set time period
In addition to your prospects going online to read reviews about your company or your products/services, online reviews are also a ranking factor, which makes them even more important to your online visibility.
If you need some help managing your online reputation and driving more sales through online channels, reach out and let's talk.