When many initially hear of new restaurant, local retail store or neighborhood coffee shop, their first move is to end the curiosity with an online search. When potential consumers search your business, they will instantly see your star rating and review panel.
If your reviews are subpar, negative or non-existent, the chances of those consumers giving you a shot decrease drastically.
So, what’s the fix? You need to solicit and collect more online reviews.
1. Consumers Read Online Reviews
When information is available and free, people use it. Before stepping inside your brick and mortar store or building, potential consumers see what many visitors before them thought of your business. In a 2016 Local Consumer Review Survey published by BrightLocal, 91 percent of consumers regularly or occasionally read online reviews for local businesses, a 20 percent spike from 2010.
With Google, Bing and other platforms making reviews easily available, the correlation between local business searches and visibility of reviews is evident. When consumers search a local business, they expect to see and plan to read reviews. If 91 percent of consumers are searching for and reading reviews of your business, it is important that they be good reviews. If not, you can kiss that consumer goodbye, and probably before they ever even reach your website.
2. Consumers Care About Your Star Rating
When consumers search your local business, they see a company name, contact information and, you guessed it, the star rating. If the star rating is one of the first pieces of information that consumers know about your business, you need it to be a good one.
According to BrightLocal’s survey, 58 percent of consumers pay the most attention to overall star rating when looking at reviews. While visibility and straightforwardness of the star rating system factor into consumers paying the most attention to it, the importance of your star rating cannot be diminished. It must be impressive.
What does your star rating need to be so the consumer says yes? The survey results indicate that 87 percent of consumers will use a local business that maintains a 3-5 star rating, which tells us that consumers are realistic about the performance of your local business. As with any situation, consumers do not expect perfection. They simply want to see consistency in quality performance.
3. Consumers Want Relevant Reviews
When you judge a sports team on its ability to win the upcoming game, do you base your opinion on its performances in the last few games or its results from two seasons ago? For most, we would look at the team's recent history.
Similarly, when consumers are making a decision to try out your business, they rely on recent reviews rather than dated ones. Survey results show that 73 percent of consumers do not consider reviews older than three months when making a decision. In fact, over half of consumers look only at reviews posted in the last month before coming to a decision.
What does this mean for your local business? You need a steady flow of recent reviews. While older reviews still exist and may be helpful to some, they may not be accurate. If team members, service offerings or business locations have changed, those reviews might not be great reflections of current production. Be sure that reviews are constantly flowing because relevancy matters.
4. Consumers Use Reviews to Build Confidence
Positive reinforcements never hurt anyone, did they? When your local business boasts numerous positive reviews, the likelihood that a consumer trusts your work increases. According to the survey, 74 percent of consumers trust a business more if it has positive reviews.
Conversely, 60 percent of consumers see negative reviews as red flags, questioning the performance of your business.
We know, we know. Good reviews help, and bad reviews hurt. Your point? When you offer good reviews that build trust among consumers, they are more inclined to visit your business. Positive reviews make 39 percent of consumers more likely to use the business.
Simply by having good online reviews, you have the chance to gain a lifelong consumer.
5. Consumers Visit Your Site After Seeing Good Reviews
Once over half of consumers see that your local business is consistently productive, professional and trustworthy, they head to your website. While this may not come as a surprise, you easily see the value of and importance in maintaining an updated website that offers pertinent, accurate and engaging information as well as an easy-to-navigate design.
If your reviews are quality, but your website’s information and design fall below standard, consumers may turn the other way. Be proactive. Make sure that a poor website is not the reason you lose a consumer.
You see the value of online reviews for your local business, so what is the next step? Gather those reviews! Take no shame in openly soliciting consumers for reviews if you know that they had a quality experience. Whether you ask them verbally, have a reminder at the location or send them a post-experience message, do not be afraid to ask. The survey indicates that seven of every 10 consumers will leave a review if asked to do so.
Ask, and you shall receive.
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