We make decisions every day- Eat the donut or not eat the donut? Wear your blue shirt or your green shirt? Watch Netflix or finally start reading that book? While these are simple and mundane choices, what about the more involved decisions? Like deciding to buy a new phone, choosing a chiropractor, or researching hotels?
How do you decide? You search for it on the internet.
Not only do you acquire information about the product’s features or the business’ special services, but you analyze the reviews of the company and its products or services. You read what others say about the product or service, scroll through any associated images, and note each star rating. The reviews left by past customers become the basis of research for potential future customers, thus emphasizing the importance of online reviews.
Below are 5 reasons online customer reviews impact your business.
Why are online customer reviews important?
1. Forms brand trust
Reviews build social proof; proof that your business is legitimate, proof that others have bought your products or used your services, and proof that their experiences were approved. The opinions of strangers have a significant impact on potential customers’ willingness to trust your brand. In fact, visitors’ confidence in reviews is so high that 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Potential customers depend on reviews of past customers to ensure the brand, product, and service is reliable.
2. Builds a positive business reputation
If potential consumers trust reviews, then positive reviews significantly increase the value of the business. There are many ways a brand’s reputation is shaped online, although the opinions and comments from actual consumers add a level of authenticity since the online customer reviews are not controlled by the business itself. Therefore, favorable reviews build a positive business reputation furthering brand recognition, trust, and purchasing.
3. Influences buying decisions
When your brand is trustworthy and upholds a positive position, it ensures potential customers that if they were to purchase from your business, it will be secure and uphold its described value. Which is a compelling factor since 9 out of 10 customers research a product or service online before making a purchase and two-thirds of shoppers believe that reading online customer reviews is an essential step before deciding to make a purchase. Therefore, customers are using search engines to research your business and depending on reviews to establish an opinion about your brand before ever completing a purchase.
4. Affects search rankings
As mentioned, search engines impact the decision buying process because they are so readily available. Therefore the objective is to have your business’ website rank high among search results to generate traffic to your site and awareness to your products/services. Online customer reviews not only impact visitors’ opinions on your brand, but it can also impact whether they are directed to your website in the first place. Search engines, such as Google, rank results based on how relatable and reliable the website is to the query, and a large influence of a brand’s trust is from online reviews. Positive and fresh reviews indicate that your brand is a leader in the industry and will provide a solution to the user’s search, therefore your brand’s website is prioritized by algorithms and ranked higher.
5. Chance to reinforce or amend
Online reviews are a channel for customers to provide direct feedback on their experiences and thoughts. It is not a one-sided channel where only customers control the information, instead, it provides the opportunity to foster a customer and brand relationship. When an online customer review or comment is posted, the business can respond to the post which brings your business to a personal level. Not only is responding to online reviews a best practice, it has become an expectation by consumers.
Responding to online reviews is also the best way to amend negative business reviews that could hinder your brand’s online reputation. By recognizing a poor review, it shows that your company cares about your customers and wants to correct unsatisfactory experiences. Often times, a brand will respond with an apology or a form of an amendment, such as a future discount or a reimbursement. Not only does this reshape the opinion of customers who left poor reviews, but it also revises the negative business reviews with a positive outcome to reaffirm potential customers.
Online reviews play an influential role in the development of potential customers’ opinions and positive business reputation which in return impacts their buying decisions through online research and rankings. Reviews open a space to build a relationship with customers and boost positive reviews or amend poor experiences. Ultimately, online customer reviews are an essential aspect of business and should consistently be monitored and encouraged to cultivate new business.