Growing Your Small Business: The Importance of Online Reviews

The digital age has brought with it countless ways for your customers to tell friends, family, and the wider world about their experience with your company. This is most evident in online reviews. At their best, reviews can give your business a powerful boost.

Review sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Trustpilot, and Google are primary destinations for curious consumers who are considering your brand. Why?

  • They’re visible. These reviews often pop up at the top of search results, and people don’t even need to click on them to read a sample.
  • They’re accessible. Finding reviews is sometimes easier than finding a company’s actual website, whether it’s on a desktop or phone.

Here are just a handful of the many ways reviews can support your marketing initiatives.

Praise from Loyal Customers

Yes, trolls are lurking around the internet’s dark corners, but they actually make up a small number of the total reviewers out there. A full two-thirds of reviews on Yelp have four or five stars. Because 90 percent of shoppers base their buying decisions on positive reviews (and 94 percent look for at least four stars), it makes solid business sense for you to cultivate these high ratings, and respond quickly if they start to dip.

A Chance to Make It Right

It can be hard to stomach a bad review, but these reviews can be extremely helpful in pointing out weak spots in your business model and providing an opportunity to publicly fix them. When you reach out to the complainers and actually address their issues, 90 percent of them will give you a second chance.

This is a far better situation than in generations past, when customers who felt slighted rarely communicated that to the company. They would simply vanish, leaving the business to make the same mistakes in the future—but not before telling friends and neighbors about their lousy experience.

Opportunity to Capitalize on Consumer Urgency

When a potential customer seeks out an online review, they are generally ready to buy. Legacy forms of marketing, such as radio or TV, have to win customers over to your company and then convince them to actually do something about it. But once a prospect consults an online review, they’re nearly at your door. They just need the wisdom of the crowd to give the final push.

If your business has a small budget and big dreams, take advantage of online reviews to pull customers in right when they’re primed to pull out their credit card and make the purchase, leaving your marketing dollars free to support other projects or products.

Reviews Give a Boost to SEO

Positive reviews on portals such as Yelp, Angie’s List, and TripAdvisor are helpful for users who travel to those sites, but that’s not their only audience; Google often pushes them to the top of search results, sometimes above your own company’s page. This is essential because the first page of Google results is prime real estate.

If you’ve got great write-ups on these sites, you don’t even necessarily need a popular website to rank in these results. Users who search for a specific industry or region are often greeted with a list of companies with positive reviews.

Yelp Reviews Really Do Matter 

Of all the places to leave and read online reviews, the 800-pound gorilla is Yelp. Over the last 16 years, Yelp has transformed the landscape of online user recommendations, essentially creating the industry from scratch. The site boasts 91.3 million monthly web users, 38 million monthly mobile users, and nearly 200 million business reviews.

What do all these numbers mean? It pays to be active on Yelp. Odds are, your customers are there, and you should be, too. This means monitoring chatter related to your company and quickly responding to negative feedback.

Reviews Appear Under “Near Me” Searches

What are the two most useful words when looking online for a place to eat, a bowling alley, or an auto repair shop? “Near me.” Nearly all shoppers (90 percent) look online to find local businesses, and one-third do so daily. What typically pops up at the top of the search results? User reviews.

There are many things you can do to optimize your online presence for “near me” searches, but setting yourself up on Google My Business is a necessary first step. Businesses with four- or five-star reviews rank highest in these search results.

Good Business Earns Good Reviews

Of the many tips and tricks out there to cultivate positive reviews and word of mouth, one reigns supreme: Do good work, and the accolades will come. Living by this philosophy gives you a great chance to overcome any negative responses that may come your way.

A key part of great customer service is a smooth, efficient payment experience. A connected solution like Poynt gives your patrons the best possible final impression as they walk out the door or close their browser window, making them much more inclined to leave a positive review.