The Importance of Online Reputation Management and Reviews in 2019

The Importance of Online Reputation Management and Reviews in 2019

“My business is down this year and I can’t figure out why”

That was the comment I received from Barbara a few years back when she called me into her office to help her out. Normally when I start these conversations I ask a lot of questions but this one was more obvious to me. All I had to do with Google her business name to get to the heart of the issue.

The second search result under Barbara’s name was a review site with three stars. When I clicked on the reviews, I found a 5-star review from four years ago with no comments and a one-star review that documented a client’s terrible experience in working with Barbara. That terrible review was written nearly a year and a half ago…around the time Barbara started to see a decline in her business. When I proceeded to ask Barbara if she was aware if the negative review, she said “yes”…she had heard about it from a few of her clients. So, my question to Barbara was “so how many people saw this and decided to not do business with you?”

All I got back was crickets for a response. This reminded me of a famous quote from Warren Buffett who once said; “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Barbara clearly needed to do things differently and it all started with managing your online reputation and reviews.

BrightLocal recently released their 2018 Local Consumer Review Survey that provides a lot of updated data on consumer reviews and ratings that can help explain Barbara’s problem. Here are a few that stand out:

86% OF PEOPLE NOW READ ONLINE REVIEWS FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES (AND 95% FOR PEOPLE AGES 18-34)

If you and/or your business is “discovered” by advertising, marketing, referrals, etc., you will still be vetted online by the vast majority of your potential clients and customers BEFORE they ever contact you. If you are selling to millennials, this is even more important. The bottom line is you will be Googled and what displays (or doesn’t display) is your digital footprint, and especially your reviews. In Barbara’s case this was especially true and made even worse because…

89% OF CONSUMERS NOW READ A BUSINESS’S RESPONSE TO REVIEWS

The only thing worse than a negative review is a negative review that a business never responds to. Why? Because how quickly you respond and what you say is the first indication of what kind of customer service you could provide others. Now nobody expects every business to have nothing but positive, glowing reviews and in many professions, this is next to impossible to achieve. In fact, consumers are now becoming very good at spotting fake reviews. But having a negative review is not all bad – especially, and unlike Barbara, when you respond to them quickly and professionally. It also helps to have far more reviews than Barbara’s two reviews because…

MOST CONSUMERS WILL NOW READ 10 REVIEWS ABOUT A BUSINESS BEFORE THAT FEEL LIKE THEY CAN “TRUST” THEM

The one question nearly every business has is “how many reviews are enough?” And the answer I typically provide is “you can never have enough good reviews.” But in all fairness, there should be a starting expectation and that is you now should have at least 10 reviews because that is what consumers now consider to be enough reviews to start trusting you – which in sales is the name of the game. But just because you may have 10 reviews now doesn’t mean you are done for a simple reason…

85% OF CONSUMERS SIMPLY DISREGARD REVIEWS THAT ARE 3 MONTHS OR OLDER

Old reviews to most consumers today are simply viewed as being, well, OLD and therefore mostly irrelevant to consumers. Why? Because things can change rapidly in business and consumers know it. Therefore, they are most interested in knowing what it is like to do business with you “recently.” This also means that at a minimum, you should be generating at least 10 new reviews each quarter. But in addition to the numbers, you want to focus on your overall star rating because as Barbara and so many others are now learning…

57% OF CONSUMERS WILL ONLY USE BUSINESSES WITH AT LEAST 4 OR MORE STARS IN THEIR RATINGSMinimum Reviews Needed

Before nearly anybody today sees your reviews, they will see your overall star ratings first on a scale of 1 to 5 – with 5 being the best. In Barbara’s case, not only did she have an insufficient number of reviews but her start count was only a 3 – which most consumers now indicate is the number of a business they would prefer not to do business with. Your star rating is calculated as the average of all reviews received so the more positive 5-star reviews you can receive, the higher your overall star rating will become.

SO WHAT NEXT?

So now that you know what to do and what Barbara showed you not to do, your goals moving forward should be simple:

  • Always monitor your reviews and be proactive. If you don’t ask and you don’t act – you won’t receive…pure and simple.
  • Set of goal of getting at least 10 new reviews each quarter while maintaining a star rating of no less than a 4 on any rating site. There are a lot of great review management services that can help manage this process for you.
  • ALWAYS respond quickly and professionally to any negative review provided and if they happen, try to generate more positive reviews on that platform to help minimize any negative impacts from that review. More importantly, also learn from any negative reviews so you can help improve your overall business.

NEED HELP GENERATING MORE REVIEWS FOR YOUR BUSINESS? LET ME KNOW – CONTACT ME TODAY.

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