Talking tech since 2003

Back when small businesses had to fight hard for some business success, the word-of-mouth was the fastest way for them to get noticed. Consumers today can find businesses much more easily because of the internet and social media. Even if it is a small business is located near them that they are looking for, navigating the globe has never been easier! Does that mean the word-of-mouth concept has become irrelevant for businesses? Not at all! It has just evolved to include other ways through which people can get information. Small businesses especially have a lot to gain from customer and business reviews.

Are you the owner of a small business? Then it is time you understood the importance of reviews and what they can do for you. Good reviews have great potential for influencing customers. Revenues have jumped as much as 9% for businesses when they experienced just one star increase in their ratings! Last year’s BrightLocal survey mentioned that 49% of consumers answered they would skip over a business that had been rated anything lower than four stars.

Similarly, more than 80% put as much trust in an online review as they do in a personal recommendation. As evident, positive ratings and reviews are gamechangers. So, what should you be doing? Firstly, you should be making it easier for people to leave reviews by following these simple steps.

Let us look at some of the other reasons that make reviews so important for small businesses:

Your average customer checks out a business online before heading to your store

About 90% of people will look up a business online before they do any shopping. This is just one reason why reviews are so important. As a business, you depend on both loyal customers and hope to convert new ones. Any hard data about the way you treat your customers that is out there should be under your purview by now if it isn’t already. Right now, reviews are a huge reason why a potential customer will decide to interact with your business. Therefore, go forth, and look for any reviews that your customers have left for you. If they are positive ones, good for you. If they aren’t, then start putting things right with your dissatisfied customers.

Positive reviews can work like Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Most of the regulars for a local or small-sized business are usually from the area they are both located in. Therefore, the higher the visibility your brand can achieve, the easier you would be for your customers to find. This is where popular review sites like Trip Advisor and Yelp can help you get the word out. Firstly, they have been around and have gathered a following. Therefore, if a customer talks about your business in a positive light on such sites, you could experience an increase in popularity.

But more than that, Google and other search engines also favor sites that have a social presence on these review websites. Check out the Yelp page for a small business like yours, and you will be surprised to see that they rank higher there than for their actual website. The same is true for Facebook pages of such businesses.

However, it can take time and a lot of hard work to get your company page to rank. Don’t begin by making that your aim. Instead, start by trying to get your company name on a list for businesses like yours.

More on how Yelp can help small businesses

Close to two-thirds of all reviews on Yelp feature four or five stars. What does that show you? That a customer satisfied with a local business will specifically log on to rave about it. That means you can work harder on ensuring your customers always leave with a positive experience.

But it also means that you can exert some control over your online star ratings. Firstly, be proactive when it comes to encouraging your customers to post reviews. The stats are with you on this one since 68% of customers will agree to leave a review. Thus, more positive reviews are dished out.

While the inflow of the good ratings might even bury your bad ones, don’t ignore them. They aren’t a dirty secret meant to be kept hidden. Instead, focus on turning them into a second chance. As a business owner, you have dealt with bad days. If a customer suffered because of one, then they deserve an apology at the very least. Think about it, before the era of the internet, such a customer might have lambasted you to anyone who’d listen to them. At least now you know where to reach out to them.

Use your negative reviews to work in your favor. Uncover legitimate blind spots through them and correct them publicly. Engage with dissatisfied customers and ensure them you will do better in the future. Who knows you might even drum up repeat business – about 70% of customers will give you a second chance!

If used smartly, online reviews can serve as a viable marketing plan for small businesses. You might not have the budget to do more. But you can make sure your customers are only saying good things about you!

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