It’s getting harder to ignore a poor online business reputation. While some business owners may have an easy time shrugging off negative online reviews written by unhappy customers, one inescapable and potentially business-killing fact is clear. Consumers everywhere in increasing numbers are reading and relying upon reviews before they make a purchase decision, and the majority trust those reviews as much as personal recommendations.
More and More Consumers Are Reading Reviews
As estimated 85 percent of consumers read online reviews, according to BrightLocal’s 2013 Local Consumer Review Survey. This represents an increase from 76 percent compared to a similar study conducted in 2012.
The potential for lost business revenue is real, considering the stage in the consumer’s buying cycle when reviews are being sought out and read. The consumer has already confirmed the need and the product or service that they feel will best fulfill that need. They are in a buying mode, and the only question remaining is which local business will ring up the sale.
According to the online marketing firm My Local Leads, positive reviews about a business that increase the overall satisfaction rating by one star (on a five star rating basis) has been shown to increase sales by about 20 percent. On the other side of the revenue coin, a declining satisfaction rating can lead to a considerable loss of sales.
Consumers Trust Reviews as Much as They Trust Personal Recommendations
Of those consumers reading reviews, 79 percent say they trust reviews as much as they would the personal recommendation of a friend or family member, according to the BrightLocal study.
Most survey respondents qualified their “Yes, I trust reviews” response with “If there are multiple reviews for the business” or “If I believe the reviews to be authentic.”
Consumer trust in the online reviews that they read is critical, and the survey indicates that the public is aware of phony reviews being posted by some businesses. Consumers have gotten smart enough to evaluate the reviews that they read in terms of believability. And the odds are probably slim to none that any reasonable person would buy from a business that has tried to deceive them from the start.
Age also plays a role in the degree of trust placed in online reviews. Younger survey respondents tend to be more trusting of the reviews they read than are older consumers. This seems logical, considering that the younger age group grew up in an Internet world.
Grow Your Reputation and You Grow Your Business
The importance of online reviews is undeniable, according to the experts at My Local Leads. Local businesses should focus more of their efforts on reaching out through reputation-building channels such as Facebook, Google+ Local, and Yelp. Doing a good job servicing your customers and encouraging those customers to share their positive experience is no longer just good business practice. It’s mission critical in today’s business world.
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Web Design and Internet Marketing have been passions of Austin’s for many years. While starting out by creating websites for himself, Austin ascertained many of the fundamentals and theory that constitute professional website development. Through networking and word-of-mouth, Austin soon began building and marketing websites for many different businesses and industries.