Your customers are talking online.
People want reassurance before committing to a purchase and are turning to online review sites to learn all they can about your service or product. Sites like Yelp, Google Maps and TripAdvisor allow customers to read past customer experiences. How powerful are online reviews on customer buying decisions? The answer is, VERY!
According to Bright Local, 91% of 18-34 year olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 93% of consumers say that online reviews influenced their purchase decisions.
The proportion of consumers that read online reviews for local businesses.
Online reviews are continuing to grow in importance, despite the obvious impact of Covid-19 on the local economy. 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020. This is an increase from 81% last year, 86% in 2018, and a huge increase from 67% back in 2010.
- 93% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year, with 34% searching every day
- 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020 – up from 81% in 2019
- 31% of consumers say they read more reviews in 2020 because of Covid-19, while 34% read fewer
- 67% of consumers say they wouldn’t use a business if reviews said it didn’t have Covid-19 health and safety measures in place
- The industries in which consumers are most likely to have read reviews: 1) Restaurants, 2) Hotels, 3) Medical, 4) Automotive, 5) Clothing stores
- The most important review factors: 1) Star rating, 2) Legitimacy, 3) Recency, 4) Sentiment, 5) Quantity
- Only 48% of consumers would consider using a business with fewer than 4 stars
- 73% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written in the last month
- 72% of US consumers have written a review for a local business – a big jump from 66% in 2019
- When writing a review, 20% of consumers expect to receive a response within one day
Consumers are most likely to look at Google My Business for local business reviews, but trust the Better Business Bureau the most
How Reviews Impact Behavior
Reviews play a key role in helping consumers to feel able to trust a business. Online reviews are an incredibly useful tool in influencing opinions, with many potential customers making decisions on whether to use or avoid a business before ever getting in touch with them. Companies with a poor review profile could be denying themselves a vast number of new leads without ever knowing a consumer considered them.
The Key Pillars of Reputation Management
Identify risk and threat:
Are you in an industry that is experiencing negative publicity? Are you in a high-risk industry or targeted industry such as medical or financial? Is your industry or business experiencing turmoil such as cutbacks or employee termination?
What you may not realize is that greatest risk comes from the inside; your own employees, customers, even friends and family. It may be intentional and malicious, but it may be seemingly innocent and unforeseen. It can be a data security breach, an email, a social media post and it can be an unguarded comment made by a senior staff member over a drink after work. Therefore, it is important that the first step toward reputation management is:
Assess the situation and level of risk. This is done through employee surveys, customer/client surveys, one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders and staff, environmental analysis, social media analysis, online monitoring.
- Voters (political)
- Opinion leaders/media
Stakeholder engagement strategies to improve and protect reputation.
Once level of risk has been determined, we consider the vulnerability of the company. Understand the level of risk, how it may take place and how it will impact the business.
- Preparedness: do you have a plan?
- Monitor: are you listening?
- Communication travels fast, and bad news travels faster
- Research and Assess
- Strategize Action Plan