While most businesses understand the importance of having a strong online presence in today’s world, a lot of people still underestimate the power of online reviews. The reality of it is that online reviews can make or break your company. Prospective customers who hear your company’s name, visit your site or even walk by your storefront will almost always head to a review site and read what other people have to say before taking any action. In fact, 90% of consumers say they read online reviews about a business before physically visiting them. Even Google has started to pay attention. Companies with more, higher rated reviews climb to the top of the search results.

It’s how the world works. People put their trust in strangers’ opinions because they believe them to be authentic and unbiased. This is why Angie’s List has been so successful and why Yelp is almost always visited before anyone heads to a new restaurant. In fact, 85% of consumers place just as much trust in online reviews as they do personal recommendations.

Positive reviews validate your business to new customers and negative reviews send people to your competition. The social proof of business validation is now more powerful than ever, which is why it’s important to have a strong pool of online reviews available for people to read through.

It helps to have a plethora of reviews in case you happen to get one or two negative ones. If they’re surrounded by 100 overly saturated positive responses, negative reviews won’t have as much of an impact as say, a site with only 5 reviews. If you want to understand the specifics of how important online reviews really are, keep reading.

Reviews Increase Sales

If everyone immediately looks at your business’ reviews prior to making any purchase or finalizing a deal for services, it’s obvious that reviews influence sales. If your business has no reviews – that’s 0 positive and 0 negative – it’s likely you’ll still lose business to someone who can show customer satisfaction through reviews.

In fact, a 2015 study found that simply having product reviews for your prospective customers to read can boost online sales by as much as 62%. That’s a huge increase.

The truth is that people trust what others have to say and the more reviews something has, the more likely people are to choose that item/service with one company over another. Reviews make or break a sale. The higher average review rating that you have, the more your business revenue will increase. It is estimated that for every star your business gets, you will see a 5-9% increase in business revenue while reviews as a whole produce an average 18% uplift in sales.

If you don’t believe it, do a quick survey with some family and friends about whether reviews matter or not. We have a pretty good idea how they’ll respond.

Positive Reviews Increase Trust

In addition to increasing the physical sales of your company, having more positive online reviews fosters trust and validity with prospective customers. Even though they’ve never done business with you, when prospects read positive reviews they get a better idea of how your business works and how you’ve helped others. 72% of people have stated that positive reviews have made them trust a business more than they originally had.

Reviews Help Influence Opinions

Falling in line with building trust with your customers, it’s important to have a strong public opinion to foster a good reputation for your business. The more reviews you have, the more people will be apathetic to negative ones. The main areas that people tend to focus on when forming an opinion about your company are your reliability, professionalism, expertise and customer service. These all help to foster a strong reputation and decrease the impact of the occasional negative review.

Online Reviews Help Your SEO

As we briefly mentioned above, online reviews help your SEO. Google has taken notice of the importance of online reviews and factored it into their algorithm for search results rankings. Companies with more reviews, and higher ratings, can expect to climb in the rankings. In order to take your SEO to the next level, put some time into getting more online reviews.

Reviews Are Good for PR and Visibility

Almost everyone that uses the Internet reads online reviews at some point or another. Just having them available helps your PR and visibility in the eyes of prospective customers. We’ve all seen the hilarious Facebook/Twitter responses to reviews from major companies (i.e., the reaction to iHop becoming iHob from other fast food chains). It’s hard to deny the impact they make on us and your reviews/responses will do the same.

Characteristics of High Impact Reviews

As a whole, positive reviews will be easy to spot and have the highest impact for future customers. For starters, you’ll have a higher star rating and people will likely list out specifics of how you went above and beyond, which is great for visitors to read and relate to.

The more reviews you have, the better, but they need to be continually coming in so that the most recent ones have been left within the past month. For more information on how to get more positive online reviews, read our blog post here.

How to Deal With Negative Reviews

Negative reviews happen. No matter how great your products/services are, some people feel the need to publicize minuscule details and turn them into full-fledged horror stories. The true test is how you handle negative reviews. Your responses can be more important than building your review inventory, so make sure you’re doing it right.

Be prompt, consistent, friendly, personable and always show understanding. Handle things offline and have the “customer is always right” mentality. Try implementing a system so that before any negative reviews are made public, you have a chance to address them. Give CyberOptik a call for more information and check out this post for a more detailed account of how to respond to negative reviews.

Final Thoughts

It’s no secret that online reviews are important and it doesn’t look like that’ll be changing anytime soon. If you want to make the most out of your online efforts, make sure you’re actively growing the number of reviews on your site and external sites. It’s an effort that will not go unnoticed and your numbers are sure to reflect this. If you’re not sure where to start, contact us at CyberOptik today. Our professionals can help you implement a system that will take your online reviews to the next level.