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Online Reviews = The New Word-of-Mouth Marketing

 |  Reputation Management

Think about your consumer habits and the last time you purchased something either online or in a store. What are the chances you looked up reviews for this product or service before you made your purchase? If you’re like 88% of consumers, the chances are overwhelmingly high. Let’s face it – we’re living in a review-based economy, and online reviews are completely changing the ways consumers are searching and finding new products and services.

The numbers don’t lie

Whereas previous generations relied on ‘word-of-mouth marketing’, aka asking friends and family for their opinion about certain products or services, today’s consumers rely heavily on online reviews to help make purchase decisions. Over 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much or more than they would trust a word-of-mouth review.

Additionally, online reviews aren’t just impacting customers search habits, either – they’re impacting their buying habits. Shoppers are likely to spend around 31% more on products and services that have excellent reviews. From a general marketing perspective, this has made online reviews impossible to ignore, regardless of industry or vertical.

The online review economy has become such an important driver of influence and business that both small companies and huge organizations alike have begun to devote serious resources to keeping their reviews credible and trending in the right direction. Just look at global e-commerce giant Alibaba. The company sued another organization for over $300,000 for enlisting people to write fake positive product reviews.

A true online revolution

For the past few years, most retailers worried about the move from brick-and-mortar stores to online. For business owners, there is still a need for human interaction. The rise of online reviews, however, has truly brought the online revolution to the world of small business. Online listings that feature reviews now get 500% more views than a traditional website, making reviews the most important online presence your business will have.

Take control of your online reviews

As a business owner, the rise of online reviews may spark a hint of defeat – after all, how can you influence what people write about your business and services online. Your team has a chance to influence your consumers to leave stellar reviews, whether or not they actually purchased anything from your business. Just think – each star added to your business’ online profile can increase business 5-9%.

This is an incredible opportunity to boost new business and revenue. There are some easy steps your team can take to proactively increase positive reviews – if you know what your customers are looking for. Take recency, for example. 73% of consumers won’t read reviews older than 90 days, so you need to keep new reviews coming in at a steady pace. Quantity is another factor that influences consumers. Shoot for more than 150 reviews at any one time, or at least higher than 50. The last factor is responding. Make sure your team is responding directly to every review, whether it’s positive or negative. 30% of consumers say owner responses influence their purchase decision. These are all small things that can have a huge impact, and they shouldn’t be swept under the rug.

If one thing’s for sure, online reviews aren’t simply comments anymore. They are the drivers of an entire economy, and small business owners should be taking notice. Whether you’re running one location or fifty, it’s time to take a serious interest in your online reviews and start working directly with customers – both online and in-store – to ensure you’re trending in the right direction.

Kenect, a technology platform dedicated to helping your business generate positive reviews, can help ensure your team is adequately equipped and ready to take the online review economy by storm. You can learn more by requesting a personal consultation today.