Local Businesses Must Review Their Reviews

If you own a business, when was the last time you checked your online reviews? Or, have you ever checked out what customers are saying about you? As you gear up for another year of doing business under the challenge of COVID-19, there’s one New Year’s resolution to make and keep: tracking customer reviews. You should pay as much attention to this as you would any other task.

The importance of online reviews

In the “old days,” word of mouth about a business—good or bad—was limited to the city or town of its location. With the online revolution, word of mouth about a business will spread faster and farther. Let’s say that someone in Ohio who’s looking for a special product that is manufactured and sold by a small business in New York finds its listing on Google, and then notices some reviews. This small business will either make or lose a new customer. In the event its reviews are not positive, this Ohio-based prospect may spread the (bad) word. The moral (and solution) to this example is to keep track of and curate any and all customer reviews.

Facts and figures about online reviews

The example of the customer from Ohio is general, but statistics show that online reviews are a key force in how a business is perceived. Jeff Riddall, writing for Search Engine Journal, pointed out two noteworthy statistics:

  • According to a report from last month in BrightLocal, in 2019, 81 percent of consumers read online reviews of local businesses, and that percentage increased to 87 percent in 2020.

  • A study from BIA/Kelsey and ConState reported that 97 percent of consumers conduct online research about local businesses before purchasing goods or services from them.

Additional insights about online reviews—whether they’re positive or negative

Positive reviews: If most online reviews for your business are positive, the benefits are obvious, and you are already in the lead. More positive reviews also correspond to higher placement in Google rankings. An additional benefit is the appearance of keyword-rich content within the reviews that are created by satisfied customers. You should therefore make it a point to follow up by thanking the customer for the kind words. Positivity builds positivity and can lead to more business. 

Negative reviews: As the saying goes, “you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” A negative review is inevitable at some point. The solution? The same as for positive reviews: A quick response from you, the business owner. Whatever a customer has complained about must be acknowledged, along with the offer of any possible solution to fix the situation. The one advantage in this negative situation is that by addressing the customer complaint—at once—you are showing that you are proactive and ready to take responsibility. 

A few words about reviews in the age of COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic—particularly the Delta and Omicron variants—still influences how we live, many people continue to either shop exclusively online or only venture out to brick-and-mortar stores on occasion. And shoppers are most likely checking reviews before they either press the “Purchase” button or visit a nearby store. Again, what past shoppers have posted carries a lot of weight—especially now.

 

So, regardless of whether reviews are positive or negative, the importance for you to be in-tune with what’s being posted about your business cannot be emphasized enough.

Let’s review the question that was asked at the beginning: Have you been keeping track of what’s being “said” online about your local business? Don’t be afraid to check. You may be pleasantly surprised at the kudos and credit you’ve received. And, should you find stuff that’s not be so flattering, now is the time to address it.

Raydeus Local is a full-service marketing agency that is geared toward strengthening the online presence of retail, franchise, and multi-unit businesses. Among Raydeus’ many services is reputation management, which offers near real-time access to customer feedback throughout Google, Facebook, Yelp, and Citysearch, along with detailed review reports via a Digital Dashboard.

So, as stated before, make a New Year’s resolution to take as much stock in your online reviews as you do your inventory of goods and services. Get in touch with Raydeus to learn how.