Back in the day, as in just 20 years ago, when you wanted to purchase a new product or enlist the help of a particular professional service, you may have flipped through a phone book to peruse your options. More than likely, you consulted with family and friends for feedback and referrals. Finally, you might have even gone to the extent of purchasing a magazine specifically geared towards publishing reviews of popular consumer goods.
Well those days are long gone, and you certainly don’t hear anyone complaining about it. Not only can we conveniently schedule service appointments and buy virtually anything directly from our mobile devices, but we can also obtain a plethora of information on those products and services. This allows for easy comparison between brands, as well as the opportunity to read “real life” consumer reviews.
Online reviews can be a free and beneficial marketing tool for your business, but they can also seriously damage your brand’s image. Since consumers tend to look out for each other, a bad online review can spread like wildfire thanks to social sharing.
On the other hand, pleasant reviews are just as powerful and can help you attract new customers, increase website traffic, and build a positive presence online. There are a number of reasons why virtual reviews are so valuable to both consumers and businesses, such as:
• Trust is Tested. Gaining the trust of new customers, and maintaining the trust of current ones, is not easy, but online reviews certainly help with the process. The more consistent and quality feedback that folks publish about your business online, the better.
• Google will Give. Google has made it clear that their main goal is to improve the user experience, which is the reason for ongoing algorithm updates. In accordance with this objective, Google makes certain online reviews readily available on search results pages, so consumers are more likely to see them.
• Show off with Social. Use the sharing aspect of social media to your advantage. Retweet positive feedback, and encourage comments on Facebook. On the flip side, it is just as important, if not more, to respond effectively and in a timely manner to negative remarks. Often times, you can change the mind of the dissatisfied consumer as long as the situation is handled professionally and in a personable manner.
• Leading to Loyalty. Eventually, a proactive approach toward online reviews will not only attract new customers, but it will also build credibility and long-lasting loyalty. The more you interact with consumers, the more likely they are to get involved with promoting your brand simply out of personal choice. One of our clients, Bill Jackson’s Shop for Adventure, is a local treasure in the Tampa Bay area that thrives on the loyalty of their customers and has the Yelp reviews to back it up.