Online reviews matter – more than you think. Studies show that 91% of people regularly read online reviews, and 84% trust these reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Most people – 68% – form an opinion of a business after reading between one and six online reviews.
To say that online reviews can make or break your business is an understatement. Here’s how reviews can either benefit or harm your small business.
Positive Reviews Promote Brand Awareness
Brand awareness is crucial for small businesses, particularly if you’re focused on local customers. Brand awareness is how customers get to know you and your products or services.
Getting your business in front of your target audience is crucial, and to achieve this – without a big budget – your name needs to be everywhere. Online reviews can help you get there.
If your business has positive online reviews, it’s likely to rank higher on Google My Business as well as other online platforms. Let’s say that you run a pizza restaurant. If you have 200 mostly positive online reviews, you may outrank your main competitor in the local search results. There’s a good chance that many searchers will see your restaurant name for the first time. Those online reviews helped build brand awareness by putting your business in front of more eyeballs.
Negative Reviews Can Tarnish Your Reputation
Naturally, a negative review can tarnish your business’ reputation. Any negative testimonial – either in-person or online – can hurt your business.
Depending on the trigger for the negative review, there may be a snowball effect that encourages other users to also leave negative reviews. As a result, you start losing customers.
We’ve all heard the stories of businesses making a bad move that caught the attention of the news or a large group of people and it led to people leaving negative reviews in droves. Some of these businesses don’t survive the PR nightmare they created for themselves.
Fortunately, most businesses only have to face negative reviews once in a while (if they’re doing the right thing). Handling that review in a tactful, professional way can effectively neutralize the negative impact of the customer’s feedback. Replying to the review and telling the customer that you will take steps to make things right can turn the entire situation around.
Positive Reviews Boost Sales and Customer Base
Positive reviews make customers more likely to choose your company over competitors. That can lead to increased sales and a bigger customer base.
With increased sales, your business will see growth and have an easier time obtaining the funding it needs to reach its future goals. According to NY based Yellowstone Capital LLC, funding is not about making money, but rather, it is about growing and meeting working capital needs. That’s what positive reviews can help small businesses achieve.
Negative Reviews Can Make Your Brand Untrustworthy
Negative reviews can make customers leery of doing business with your company. Consider the last time you searched for reviews. What was your first thought when you saw a business with a two- or three-star review? You probably wrote that company off and moved on to the next.
Too many negative reviews can sink a business. Sometimes, it’s possible to recover from poor reviews. Other times, it’s not. It’s important for small businesses to focus on great customer service and delivering on promises to maintain a good reputation and positive reviews.