They are often seen as a blessing or a curse. Third-party reviews have the power to change not only how people perceive you, but how your business functions as a whole.
On the surface, reviews from platforms such as Google, Facebook, and Yelp are a tool for individuals to determine whether or not they should invest their time and money in a business. But on the back end, business owners find themselves haunted by negative scores.
Here’s one example:
For my upcoming Italy wedding, my fiancée and I were looking to book a hotel for our guests. Performing a quick Google search, you can see that there are 965 hotels to choose from.
No one wants to spend time perusing 965 hotels. So, our first instinct was to filter them out by their overall scores. After I narrowed down the user rating to those with 4.5 stars or higher and narrowed the hotel rating to 5 stars, we were left with a mere 15 to choose from.
In mere seconds, I saved myself countless hours of work based on reviews alone. And if you think this story is an anomaly, consider this study from SEO firm, BrightLocal. It concluded that “49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business”.
In the above hotel example, you saw first and foremost that I was able to quickly weed out the locations under 4.5 stars without knowing a single piece of information about their respective businesses. All I knew was that Google users gave them a score under 4.5 stars.
That same study went on to point out, “85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.”
With such a high percentage of online consumers relying on reviews, this should be a top priority for every business. But with many small businesses still exploring the surface of digital marketing, this isn’t always viewed as an immediate opportunity.
But what can you do to start improving your review score across platforms?
Determine Which Platforms Are Most Valuable
Yelp is the seasoned veteran in the room, but in recent years, it hasn’t kept up with the additional benefits of platforms like Google and Facebook. According to statistics firm, Statista, their data shows that Google controls nearly 65% of all internet search traffic. With that being the case, Google is the clear front-runner.
Assuming a business has a Google My Business page, the overall review score is immediately viewable when a user receives their search results. Meanwhile, Yelpers must navigate to Yelp’s website to analyze their compilation of review scores.
Like Google, Facebook represents the leader of its industry. As the largest social networking platform in the world, it has countless volumes of data on its users.
This data is invaluable to organizations, large and small. Not only can businesses use it to attract more customers, but they can apply it to gain a deeper understanding of their current customer base. Plus, with such a large emphasis on the “social” aspect of social media, Facebook makes it easy for your friends and family to see which places you’ve recommended and which you haven’t.
For these reasons, we strongly urge our customers to direct their customers to either Google or Facebook when leaving reviews.
Ask for Reviews at the Point of Sale
For many business owners out there, your primary business dealings are done once the sale is finalized. This is why it’s crucial to request reviews from your customers once they buy.
Many are apprehensive about doing this for fear of appearing pushy. In this case, always remember to be polite and consider it a request, not a demand.
Those who wait too long to ask for reviews may find it more difficult to collect quality testimonials. Memories fade fast, and it’s difficult to recall every detail of a business transaction.
Don’t Wait for a Negative Review
Be proactive when it comes to generating online reviews. In marketing, we’ve run into two common scenarios.
- Business is good, so why do I need to market it?
- Business is bad, so I don’t have the funds for a proper marketing effort.
This same mentality is reflective of how many view third-party reviews. But by requesting reviews in the early stages of your business, you can cement a positive reputation. This ultimately insulates you against any negative reviews you might receive down the road.
In closing, I’d like to leave you with one last statistic from BrightLocal: “Consumers read an average of 7 reviews before trusting a business.” For most it’s going to take some time to reach that number, but before you know it, you’ll have a stellar digital reputation.
For additional questions on third-party reviews, comment below or send us a message at RizzoYoungMarketing.com.