TO BE COMPETITIVE in today’s marketplace, you need to understand how the majority of consumers are making their buying decisions. Most of your potential customers form an opinion about your company before ever stepping foot through your door. Their decisions are made without ever calling, emailing or peeking through those shiny store windows . The reason for this is online review sites; these sites make it easy for customers to see what kind of reputation you’ve garnered in the market. A study by Dimensional Research concluded that 90% of consumers say that online reviews impact their buying decisions.
Your business may have the slickest website and the most elaborate marketing materials, but when it comes to reputation, consumers don’t listen to what you’re saying; they want to hear directly from people who have actually done business with your company. If these customers don't have good things to say about your performance, then you'd better believe that you’re missing out on new business. That's because in the online review world, their chatter will spread like wildfire.
Consumers can literally check thousands of review sites and directories online but only a few are worth more than all the others combined. There are several factors that contribute to a review site's worth:
- Visibility - how many individuals actually see these reviews?
- Brand recognition - are customers familiar with the website the reviews are posted on?
- Trustworthiness - are the reviews legitimate?
- Value added - do the reviews offer information that will help potential consumers make a purchasing decision?
Let’s break down these factors a little more to understand how they contribute to a review site’s worth.
Visibility: About 2.2 billion people use Google—talk about visibilty. Even more so, according to data collected by WebPunch, Google captures about 42% of all online reviews and Facebook gets 37%. You should definitely still allot time for the smaller sites, but prioritize it so that you can focus on platforms that recieve the most visibility -that's where everyone else is and that's where you want your reviews to be.
Brand Recognition: Consumers today are more likely to go to review sites that they are familiar with. There is a preconceived notion that if friends, colleagues and acquaintances use a specific review site and trust it, they can to. Because review sites with household names like Google, Yelp and Angie’s List are familiar to consumers, they are more likely to go there to read online reviews. The more consumers go to these sites, the more their visibility grows and the more valuable their reviews become.
Trustworthiness: All the top review sites have security algorithms to ensure that the reviews posted there are indeed legitimate. Yelp is known for their tight (almost too tight) security. The company has even been known to set up sting operations to catch fake review companies from infiltrating the quality of their reviews. Knowing that businesses aren’t able to “game” the system by planting their own phony reviews reassures consumers that they can trust the site, thereby making the reviews more valuable.
Value Added: Does the review site allow users to just give a numeric rating for the company? Are users allowed to give a one-word review? Review sites that help users extract all the pertinent information about their transaction can help paint a picture that potential customers can vizualize when making a purchasing decision. This is particularly important when dealing with negative reviews. For example, if our business gets a positive review that says "Awesome", potential customers are generally satisfied that that reviewer left feeling happy. But if the review reads “Horrible”, potential consumers are left wondering why the experience was horrible. Did the reviewer get ripped off? Did the company not deliver as they said they would? Was the service rude? In this case, “Horrible” can mean a lot of different things. If the review offers a clear picture of what transpired, this gives potential customers more information which helps to guide their purchasing decisions.
If your company has produced reviews on sites like Kudzu, Merchant Circle or Superpages, congrats! Just remember that those reviews don’t have the same value and impact as those generated on Google, Facebook, Yelp, Angie’s List or Houzz. At WebPunch, we target reviews where your client base is sure to see them. We also have a history of building stellar online reputations for hundreds of businesses. We invite you to call us for a free evaluation of your online presence and to see what we can do to make your reputation shine.
Want to generate online reviews on sites that matter? Give us a ring! 888.366.2543