Balancing the Risk and Reward of Customer Reviews in Your Business

Reviews can have an enormous impact on your business’ marketing success. Today’s consumers read customer reviews before making purchase decisions, especially when it comes to trying out a new local business for the first time. Whether they are looking for a contractor, family doctor, or lawyer, word-of-mouth endorsements factor heavily into a consumer’s decision to pick one business over another. In fact, according to The Why Before the Buy℠ research, companies without ratings, reviews and recommendations risk losing out to the competition.

In spite of the benefits of reviews, the sheer thought of asking for reviews, or even worse, the fear and risk of getting a negative review in return, can be quite a deterrence for many business owners. With all the other demands business owners face each day, balancing the rewards and risks of reviews can seem overwhelming. However, the good news is that it is not as daunting as it may seem. Here are a few reasons why.

Boost Search Rankings

Unique and relevant content found in reviews can help your business appear higher in search results. If your business has no reviews right now, your first few will make the biggest impact on your overall search ranking. We have seen that businesses with just a few customer reviews are listed higher in search results than businesses with no reviews at all. Not only do higher rankings boost your overall online presence, but they also play an important role in driving customer confidence, as many people tend to overlook businesses that appear much lower in search results.

Drive More Traffic

Reviews also increase the likelihood consumers will click to your website, which is just as important as customers visiting your brick-and-mortar storefront. Even just a handful of reviews can result in a significant spike in click-thru-rates compared to businesses with little or no reviews. The math is simple. More reviews improve search results ranking. Better search results ranking leads to more website clicks. As your business continues to receive more reviews, your ability to remain higher up in search results increases. The trend is obviously clear: customer reviews lead to an increase in online and offline search traffic, and that is something no business ever wants to turn down!

Value Quality

Like with anything, quality outweighs quantity. When it comes to building customer trust it is better to have a few high-quality reviews over more mediocre reviews. Having a lot of four- or five-star ratings can go a long way in making a potential customer confident in doing business with you. It is important to note as reviews have become a mainstay in today’s digital marketing ecosystem, fake reviews and fake listings have popped up, and they hurt both consumers and local businesses. Trusted testimonials and trusted sites, especially those accredited by reputable organizations like the Better Business Bureau, can go a long way in building credibility and, ultimately, long-lasting relationships with consumers.

Turn Negative Reviews into a Positive Experience

Regardless of how much time and effort you put into creating a positive experience for your customers, there will inevitably be a time when a less than stellar review pops up. Turn that negative feedback into a positive experience. See it as an opportunity to build trust by listening to concerns, responding genuinely, and making changes as you see fit. The key is to be on guard. Monitor online reviews and keep tabs on social mentions of your business. After all, your goal as a business owner is to attract customers, not turn them away.

Now it is time to ask yourself how your business is doing. If your business has few or no reviews, then you have the most to gain from getting your customer review strategy in full swing. Encouraging customers to leave honest feedback, even if it is sometimes critical, can pay off in the short- and long-term.

Stu MacFarlane is the executive vice president of product and marketing at YP, where he leads product and marketing efforts for consumers and clients, including marketing strategy, product development and management, branding, acquisition and retention marketing and corporate communications. Stu holds a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Stu resides in Los Angeles with his wife and two daughters.


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