How Online Reviews Can Impact Your Business

Gain your target market’s approval and manage your online reputation to open the door to better opportunities for your business
The introduction of the internet changed the relationship between businesses and customers across all industries. Before, offline word of mouth was one of the few ways new customers heard about a business. Nowadays, customers rely heavily on search results, social media, and online feedback when performing research and gathering information on businesses they consider visiting or purchasing products and services from.
According to a 2020 survey, 93% of US consumers searched online for a local business. But what exactly do customers want to know? “They’re not just looking for anything… They want to see reviews.”
Reviews are unbiased and honest opinions of customers’ personal experience with a product or service that the business has to offer. It acts as either a recommendation or a warning to the public. These reviews are very influential. They help shape how its target market views a business. Additionally, reviews are effective tools since they provide extra information from people who have used the product or service before. This extra information is extremely valuable to customers considering making a new purchase. In fact, most people consider reviews from other consumers 12 times more trustworthy than the description provided by the business.
In today’s online environment, reviews are easily accessible. They are displayed in many locations such as Google, Yelp, Facebook, and other sites. It is now even easier for customers to connect with their businesses online because of this.
Why online reviews matter?
It’s no question that online reviews matter and should be prioritized by small businesses, but why is that? Statistics found that 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. In addition, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This shows that customers rely on online reviews to assess whether a business will meet their wants and needs.
When just starting out most small businesses lack the recognition that established businesses have. Corporate giants like Coca-Cola and Apple are known nearly everywhere and by everyone. Due to this, people do not rely as heavily on online reviews to convince them to make a purchase. Small businesses, however, do need the recognition of online reviews to persuade and attract customers.
Since small businesses do not have the established reputation that mature businesses have, they should use online reviews to drive customers. Online reviews are the modern and digital equivalent of word-of-mouth recommendations, affecting a customer’s purchasing decision. Before making a purchase, potential customers often listen first to what existing customers say about a business. After that, they look for positive reviews. Positive reviews are social proof that people adapt their behavior based on what others think and do. In other words, it could mean that they are more likely to think that purchasing a product or a service is the right decision if other people do too.
But positive reviews are not the only thing that customers want to see. Customers also look for negative comments, but not because they are interested in how bad a business is doing. Instead, they want to know how the business can handle bad reviews and respond to complaints or criticisms. Aside from that, a study shows that pure excellent ratings may lead to skepticism. Customers may feel suspicious of the authenticity of the reviews. This is why a mixture of excellent, good, and even moderate feedback can help customers to trust a business.
Online reviews = Online reputation
Online reviews contribute to a small business’s online reputation. This only reputation is defined by the company’s reputation, products, services on the internet, and digital platforms. For start-ups and small businesses, only a few people will know what they offer and what makes them unique in the beginning. However, once their excellent online reputation begins to emerge this will change.
Having an excellent online reputation is built on different factors- positive reviews included. A stream of positive reviews has the ability to boost the online visibility of a business, and help expand the reach of a small business by improving online traffic. The more positive reviews a small business acquires, the more credible and legitimate they look to their customers. Genuine positive reviews reflect on the product, the service, and even the people that make up the business.
Knowing how to deal with negative reviews is also a factor that leads to an excellent online reputation. Online reviews provide a channel for feedback and communication with small businesses. When small businesses can handle these negative reviews professionally, they will continue to develop a good position in the community.
Managing reviews
Managing reviews well applies to both positive and negative reviews. To maintain a strong online reputation, a business must be able to handling both positive and negative reviews. Small business owners should keep this in mind when building an online reputation. Beyond this, they should be prepared with strategies for responding to reviews, soliciting reviews, and gaining insights from customers.
Small business owners should be able to develop an overall response strategy. An excellent online response strategy focuses on a response guideline that controls the things that can or cannot be said when responding to positive or negative reviews. This allows small businesses to remain consistent in their responses. Furthermore, this will reduce the risk of worsening issues or even losing customers.
There are several ways for small business owners to gain a stream of positive reviews. One of the best ways is to have existing customers advocate for them. The key is to reach out through digital channels where they are active. Places such as social media sites, email newsletters, and conversion points on the website are good spots where customers can leave a review.
Lastly, small business owners must monitor review sites and track what customers are saying about their business. They can uncover great insights on areas that need improvement, like operations and overall customer experience, just by analyzing their customers’ feedback. To help with this, business owners should prepare a matrix that focuses on common occurrences and trends that frequently appear across the online reviews for the business. It should help them track different trends and responses over time to learn the most about meeting the needs of their customers.
In summary
Customers will continue to seek out reviews more and more when deciding to purchase a product or service. This is why business owners must manage their online reviews on an ongoing basis. Small business owners could do this by highlighting the positive ones and giving resolutions to the negative reviews.
Small business owners should never forget to appreciate the feedback given to them by their customers. When faced with a negative review, they should take their time to find a resolution. As they do this, they can turn the negative experience into a positive one by sending a genuine custom response. By righting a wrong or showing gratitude, small business owners can retain current customers and show potential customers that they care about customers’ experiences. Doing this early in their entrepreneurial careers helps small business owners build their foundation of loyal customers from the beginning.
To gain access to great information regarding online reviews and building an online reputation, small business owners should partner with Streamsoft Consulting Inc. Experts at Streamsoft provide small business owners continued assistance with reputation management. They can also help manage brand reputation and improve the audience’s perception of their brand. By doing this they help business owners build brand awareness, equity, and loyalty. The team at Streamsoft also offers eCommerce solutions that provide unique growth opportunities by integrating the best practices into building a small business’s online presence.

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