How do people find your business? 

Vague question, I know. But take a moment and really ask yourself the question. Is it through outbound marketing? Do you have a steady stream of organic traffic coming to you? Or, are you taking a more “old-fashioned” approach and marketing specific client opportunities directly?

Regardless of how people find your business, one factor remains the same. People want to know if your business is reputable. Consumers are faced with so many options for nearly every good or service, so one of the first ways to weed out the less than desirable options is to see who are the Rolexes and who are the cheap knockoffs; who are the reputable businesses and who are the imitators.

After all, consumers want to feel good about to whom they hand over their hard-earned money for a quality good or service in return. So now I ask you, how are these new customers able to gauge whether your product or service is worth their while? Enter online reviews.

Online Reviews and Your Small Business

Online reviews are a vital part of any successful business. Consumers need an unbiased way to see for themselves what your business is like and reviews provide that needed source of information. Most of us utilize reviews today before we go through with any sized purchase. Check out Diana Kaemingk’s data below backing up this concept: 

How powerful is this route to market is on customer buying decisions? The answer is very. [Ninety-one percent] of 18-34 year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 93% of consumers say that online reviews influenced their purchase decisions

This week, we are walking you through everything you need to know about online reviews, of which there is a lot. Knowing where to get reviews, understanding the importance of reviews, and effectively highlighting reviews will all impact your business’ bottom-line for the better. Providing your customers transparency about your product or service will give your customers the insight they need in order to go through with that purchasing decision.

That being said, buckle up, and let’s get this ride going. 

Online review sites

A screenshot of Trustpilot, a popular online review website.

There are dozens of online review sites available today, across multiple platforms, and all of them targeting varying audiences. Below I will highlight one from each main review-gathering source. 

Social Media

Facebook is the biggest social media platform in the world with over 2 billion users. Yes, you read that correctly. Billion with a B.

Creating a Facebook business page is a must for your business for many reasons, but for the purpose of this article we are going to focus on the most lucrative reason for you. Customers can review your product/service on the Facebook page directly. For this reason, Facebook is a great platform for reviews, as there is a strong sense of community present throughout business pages. Someone coming onto your business page and seeing a wealth of reviews praising your work can really help close a sale.

Review Platforms

Yelp has been around for years and has developed a reputation for concise, reliable reviews. What makes Yelp so effective is once your page is active, you are able to integrate it within your page to advertise reviews, as well as inviting customers to leave a review. Personally, Yelp is my go-to when trying to decide on a product/business. I find it reliable, easy to navigate, and very trustworthy. 

Of course, Yelp isn’t the only online review site out there. HubSpot has a list of 31 here.

Search Engines

Do you use Google? If so, you probably will be familiar with Google My Business. Essentially, these are the pages that show up when you search for a business. You also see them on Google Maps.

Having reviews on Google can work wonders for your page, boosting it in local SEO rankings, which helps you show up higher on the search engine result pages (SERPs). Google also provides users with tons of helpful insights on your business, traffic, conversions, etc. 

Importance of Online Review Site Reputations

How do users choose which online review sites to trust?

Great question.

Different review sites over the years have developed different reputations. A lot of this has to do with your business, and where your online presence is centered. Another huge part of this is the depth of the reviews themselves. People want their questions answered, especially before making a purchasing decision. Some of this has to do with a user’s preference of sites, while another part is which page provides the most thorough reviews and analyses.

With so many review sites out there, finding which ones you want to use can be overwhelming. When trying to decide which ones you want to focus on, try to keep in mind a few things

Who is your target audience? Which platforms are they most likely to be engaging on? What am I trying to convey, and what is the best site to do that on?

By asking yourself these questions, you start to get a better feel for which page is the best fit for what you are looking to do. Remember, it isn’t a matter of what is the wrong choice – but rather – what is the best choice for your business.  

Why online reviews matter, backed up with data

I mentioned it earlier and I will say it again: When it comes to people spending their money, people want to feel like they are making a good decision. If your product or service lacks in an area, trust me, someone will write a review talking about everything they don’t like, or what went wrong. 

But let’s talk specifics. ThriveHive has an article with a lot of them, including:

[Ninety percent] of consumers read online reviews (with 89% reading more than 2 reviews, and 15% reading 11 reviews)

[Eighty-eight percent] trust online reviews when considering a business

[Seventy-two percent] say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more

Customers are likely to spend 31% more on a business with excellent reviews

[Eighty-six percent] of consumers will decide against buying from you if they read negative reviews about you online.

Do Online Reviews Matter? By Kristen McCormick

Really let that sink in. Those are some very high percentages. It is safe to say that a vast majority of people not only use but specifically seek out reviews before they go through with a purchase.

With good, trustworthy reviews in place, you will start to see a higher conversion rate, which will lower the cost to acquire new customers. Having a backlog of reviews highlighting what people love about your work is helping you make more sales than you might realize. 

How to collect online reviews

At this point in the article, we’ve discussed where reviews can be found, the correlation between review sites and reputation, and why reviews matter. But now you might be wondering – “How do I collect them?”

There are three main ways that a good or service receives reviews:

  • Organic
  • Personally Requested
  • Solicited via Automated Process
Organic Reviews

Receiving organic reviews is about the easiest way to get reviews, but it’s not the most efficient way. All that is needed is to have your business listed on one of the aforementioned review platforms. Customers will then have a location to share their thoughts on the product or service you provided. Minimal effort on your side, but also not the most efficient way to gain reviews.

Personally Requested Reviews

Simply put, at the time of the transaction you personally request the customer to leave you a review if they are happy with your product/service. There are Pros and Cons to personally asking your customer for a review.

Pro: You are creating a personal connection with the customer and it does not cause too much extra work in your transaction workflow.

Con: your customer could say no or even potentially leave feeling pressured to do something they do not want to do.

Solicited via Automated Process

You can probably guess my preferred method of soliciting reviews. You guessed it! Setting up an automated process is the name of the review game, and lucky for you, there are countless ways that you can do this.

The beauty of automating the review process is you won’t be the one directly asking your customers for a review. For example, you can use software to request reviews via email a few days after customers finish a transaction with you. There’s no personal pressure, it doesn’t take much time, and you give people a chance to leave a detailed review on their own time. Thought their plans are expensive, Trustpilot Business provides some great examples of how you can set this up.

How to use online reviews

Now that you have gathered some reviews on a variety of platforms, you need to learn how to effectively use these online reviews to positively impact your bottom line. As has been the theme with this entire article – you have options.

Use real reviews in your marketing copy and messaging

You can actually market reviews! If you have a great review that you think will get through to people, you can incorporate that into your marketing efforts on your website, in your emails, on social media, and many other places. Reviews provide more content to market and post. Share those good reviews and get them out to the world! 

Build your brand/reputation by using reviews

Your brand and reputation are so important. Especially when it comes to growing your business. Odds are, you are looking to grow your business in some way. We all are!  Reviews are a great resource to help you build your reputation, which in turn, builds your brand.

If you have a catalog of reviews talking about how great your work or product is, you will start to develop a reputation amongst your audience for delivering good work. Sounds nice, right? This is especially effective when you use reviews to highlight the qualities of your work which your audience cares about the most.

Use reviews to look professional

Having reviews visible on your webpage is professional and helps ensure that you are what you claim to be. Try to keep in mind that those looking at your business might not know who you are or what you do yet!

Let’s say you are moving across the country to a city you have never been to – which does, in fact, happen quite often. You are looking to hire someone to work on your new property, but you don’t know a quality business to turn to. Providing reviews allows those who don’t know of you to learn more about what you and your business deliver.

Put simply, having reviews makes you look like you know what you’re doing.

Improve your SEO with reviews

Throughout our blog, we have doted over the importance of SEO – specifically making sure your business shows up as high as it can in Google. Online reviews are an excellent way to make this happen. The higher you show up in search results, the higher the likelihood that someone chooses your business, over those on page three of the Google results.

Improve your visibility on sites like Amazon, Google, etc.

Reviews help you to build a reputable presence online, and through that reliable reputation, you will start seeing your ratings improve. Think about it like this, if you have many 5 star reviews when people search for “reputable *insert business here*”, you will show up higher, and with a better rating than those who don’t utilize reviews.

Build a community through reviews

If a large majority of your clientele are happy with the work you have provided, then you have the perfect opportunity to start building a community through your reviews! Take Facebook Business, for example; this is a page for your business, where those who like and follow your page can interact with you. Reviewers and fans alike can come together to talk about what your brand is all about.

Give users a sense that they’re being listed to

In life, and business, people want to feel like their voice is heard. Responding and taking action on the reviews allows your customer base to interact with you, know that you hear what they have to say, and are then going so far as to take their feedback into account. This is so valuable and really goes a long way when trying to build your brand, reputation, and customer trust.

Give employees encouragement

Simply put, employees want to feel like they are delivering quality work to people. These reviews will shed light on what people love about the hard work that your employees do every day. Hearing the positive words of customers is not just validating, but incredibly rewarding to see the fruits of your labor being praised by those who you made it for. 

Final Thoughts 

If you were to take away one lesson from this entire article, I would want it to be how highlighting reviews will help your business’ visibility and bottom line.

Gathering and highlighting reviews is one element of your business that can pay dividends to you in the future. By providing your customers a sense of transparency, you are gaining future customers’ trust and with that their business. Even if you do not get a ton of reviews initially, that is okay! All it takes is one review. Then, you can start leveraging them to help grow your business and rankings even more. 

How do you go about reviews? Let us know in the comments below!