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If you own a business that provides goods or services to the public, you’re likely familiar with online directories like Yelp, Google My Business, and Bing Places. They provide a platform for consumers to rate, review, and compare your company at any time during the buying cycle. Helpful for other consumers doing their research online? Certainly. Cumbersome for you? It may seem that way on the surface, but we’re here to fill you in on what you need to know for finding success in online reviews.

Embracing the Power of the Internet

Accepting new technology has always been and will always be the most fundamental part of driving a successful business. In the digital age, we have more to keep up with than ever, but we also have more tools and shortcuts to help. Just think about your day-to-day operations. For example, taking credit card information from customers may have seemed like a burden at the start, but now online payment solutions free up time for your office staff and offer customers added convenience. Building your online reputation works the same way.

Think of online reviews as digital word of mouth. As your company is reviewed on more sites, your brand is able to reach more potential customers—without spending time and money on extra marketing materials. And since 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation*, they carry a lot of clout.

Where Consumers Are Reviewing Your Business

Even if you don’t recall actively setting up an account for any online directory, consumers can take matters into their own hands. Now, we see consumer feedback on social media, on the results page of any browser search, and on niche sites like Angie’s List. It’s everywhere, and often times it doesn’t have to be verified, approved, or set up by a business owner.

Who’s Writing These Reviews, Anyway?

According to Pew Research Center, around one in 10 Americans nearly always post their own public reviews about products and services they purchase, while roughly half of the sample size said they do so on occasion.

What to Expect at the Beginning

If each of your current customers were to write a review of your company, there’s a good chance your overall rating would be four or five stars; there’s a reason these consumers continue to do business with you. Still, just one or two negative posts from ex-customers—or even from your competitors posing as customers—can make an impact. If your rating could use improvement, there are plenty of ways to recover. And if your ranking starts off strong, keeping it that way is simple.

When to Take Action

Responding graciously only to positive feedback may seem natural, but taking just a small amount of time to acknowledge the good and the bad can be just enough on its own to heighten your rating number. Whether you see a new one- or five-star review, consider responding publicly. To a consumer who previously thought negatively about your company, sending a personal note can regain their trust, regain their business, and provide the opportunity for them to write a new review to replace their old one. This professional touch can lead to new business by way of potential clients browsing your listings!

How to Request Feedback

Knowing how to deal with existing reviews is important, but what about acquiring them in the first place? There are now dozens of online tools that exist solely to collect consumer reviews and add them on the web. If your business’s web presence is lacking in terms of online reviews, asking your customers for feedback can be done through email with a direct link to one of these sites or by having your technician, delivery driver, or customer service specialist point the customer to the site to leave a review at a later date.

Why Online Reviews Matter

Reason #1: Whether good, bad, or somewhere in between, having any kind of active presence on the web is a plus for search engine optimization. Displaying varied content (as in more than just a website) by way of channels like online reviews, social media accounts, and blog articles, search engines will favor your brand to a less present competitor.

Reason #2: The average human attention span is now a mere eight seconds. Online business directory listings provide the added bonus of a consumer-friendly snapshot of your company’s most important information: your website, location, phone number, and business hours.

Reason #3: Your reputation is at stake! Don’t let past customers affect the future of your business. Now that you know all about online reviews and their importance, use them to your full advantage to boost your rating and your brand.

Are you ready to embrace online reviews to better your business? Contact us to learn more about how to get started!

* https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey/