Online reviews are synonymous with the reputation of a business, regardless of how small or how big they are. They’re one of the more obvious ways that a brand can get recognised. They also help to improve your search engine rankings and act as an incentive for potential customers to check your business and buy your products and services.
And due to the Covid-19 pandemic, more and more people have turned to the Internet last year whenever they were looking to buy something. In 2020, 87% of consumers read online reviews about local businesses, according to a Twitter survey done by Brightlocal.
According to the same survey, these consumers focus on the star rating of a review, the legitimacy of the review, how recent it is, the sentiment, and lastly, the number of reviews in total.
So, in conclusion, online reviews are very important. This brings us to the topic of this article which is how can small businesses use online reviews to their advantage?
6 examples of how can small businesses use online reviews to their advantage
1. Online reviews drive sales
We are more likely to buy a product or a service if other people agree that it’s worth it. In other words, social proof pushes us to consume certain products from certain businesses. And today, the biggest and most legitimate source of social proof is, of course, online reviews.
So, a small business with exclusively positive online reviews can use this fact to leverage people to give them a shot.
2. They’re a source of trust
There’s no denying that online reviews, positive ones that is, can make a small business appear trustworthy and credible.
Believe it or not, some people find it hard to even trust businesses that have ratings that are below four stars. And that’s not even the average! Some will even go as far as claiming that they only trust businesses with a star rating that sits somewhere between 4.5 stars and 5 stars.
And, of course, the more trustworthy your presence is as a small business, the more sales you will get.
3. Online visibility
Most people will rely on search engines such as Google or Bing when shopping online or just looking for a local business that they can visit. And it’s been long proven that a business with generally positive reviews will have a better standing in search engine result pages.
This’s because most search engines rely on both content and positive interactions with said content when choosing which website gets what spot on the SERPs.
Brightlocal conducted a study that concluded that the star ratings of a business on a search engine results page could increase click-through rates by as much as 25%. The better your click-through rates are, the better your search engine rankings will be.
4. Direct connection with clients
Perhaps the most obvious answer to the question of how can small businesses use online reviews to their advantage is the fact that, at their core, online reviews are basically the most direct line of communication between you and your consumers.
When typing up a review, most consumers expect some sort of response from the business, regardless of whether their review was positive or negative. If it’s the former, then they would probably appreciate you if you thanked them for such a comment. And if it’s the latter, then they would most likely want to be recognised in order to give you a second chance. Moreover, replying to a negative review usually shows that you do care about your name and where it stands.
There are numerous examples of businesses out there who have noticed a significant increase in their review scores and quantity solely because they were more responsive to both positive and negative reviews on their platform.
Of course, you would want to be very friendly when answering these reviews, for both your sake and theirs. Around 80% of consumers think that a business cares about them if they respond to online reviews quickly and properly.
5. Reviews lead to improvement
The small businesses that are making the most progress in terms of sales are the ones who are always improving their products or services based on consumer reviews.
For instance, it is widely accepted that customers tend to notice anything and everything that might be wrong with your product or service more efficiently than you, its producer. We recommend that you always stay on the lookout for such reviews and that you try to address the issues at hand as soon as possible. Again, this tells costumers that: a. you care about them and b. your reputation matters to you. If you need more details, don’t hesitate to contact your unhappy customers via email. Most of them will be happy to help.
Additionally, when scrolling through negative reviews, make sure to look for any patterns that might arise. More often than not, many customers will share their dissatisfaction with a certain aspect of your product or service. Tackle said problem accordingly.
6. An insight into the competition
Another great way of using online reviews to your advantage as a small business is to simply spy on the online reviews of your competitors. They will tell you a lot about what you should and shouldn’t do with your products and services. Competitors with exceedingly positive reviews are probably ticking all the right boxes when it comes to both their products and how they interact with their clients.
How can small businesses use online reviews to their advantage – Getting more online reviews
Here are some practical tips on how can small businesses use online reviews to their advantage:
1. Automated follow-up emails
A good way of generating a genuine review is to set up automated, targeted emails that get sent to someone who recently bought a product from you. Such an email can include some sort of a “Thank You” message from you and should urge the customer to write up a review on you. Your emails should be short and straight to the point. A lot of companies do this, and we’re pretty sure that you yourself experienced it first-hand at some point.
You can also adopt the approach of emailing previous customers who aren’t so recent, asking them for a review. Such a task requires you to set up an email campaign of some sort. That may sound like a chore at first but is actually easy to do.
2. Review prompts
Another great way of getting people to leave you a review is to use prompts. You can use either in-app ones or on your desktop website. In-app review prompts are exceptionally effective, especially if you have an app where purchases can be made.
This approach is extremely popular, and most, if not all, apps out there use it. As is the case with automated emails, we recommend that you make it so that these prompts appear after a customer just made a purchase of some sort.
3. Rewarding reviews
No one minds a reward of some sort for their time. Most customers don’t feel inclined to leave a review simply because they don’t have the time to do it. A promise of a reward changes the equation, though.
For instance, you can give them a discount code for future purchases if they write up a review on their experience with your business. This gives them the impression that you care about them.
Yes, giving away discount codes and vouchers as a small business might sound like a loss, but it isn’t. For one, you’re getting a huge number of fresh and genuine reviews. Those do nothing but improve your state as a business. And two, the customers you rewarded will most likely write other reviews in the future for free.
4. Be Responsive
As we have mentioned above, customers who leave reviews, negative or positive, usually want to be heard and recognised.
You can show them that their reviews are important to your business by replying promptly to them. If the review they left is a positive one, show gratitude and appreciation. If it’s a negative one, however, show regret. Also, try asking them about what went wrong in their experience if they haven’t mentioned that already. More importantly, show them that you are ready to rectify the problem at hand.
This step is very important.
Because the first thing potential new customers do is check your reviews and how you deal with them. The number of people who do this is actually more than you might think. According to a report by none other than Trustpilot, roughly nine out of ten consumers go through the effort of reading reviews before buying any new product.
Do you want to get more positive reviews?
All you have to do is up your marketing game, and we can help with that. Get in touch today.