Online Reviews Driving More Local Sales

BY Kathy Crosett
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Are you helping your clients manage their online reputations? Reviews are a critical part of the process that consumers use to determine whether they’ll reach out to a local business. The results of the 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey from BrightLocal tell you what really matters when it comes to reviews.

In the past year, nearly every consumer has searched online to find a local business. Consumers like reading reviews on these local businesses. They are particularly interested in reviews for restaurants, accommodations, health care services and apparel retailers.  If they can’t get a recommendation from a friend or family member, online reviews provide a trustworthy alternative. In fact, 85% of consumers say they are as good as a personal recommendation.

But, there are a few caveats. Consumers want to read several positive reviews before they connect with a business. Most shoppers read at least seven reviews before making up their minds. Last year, the number was six.  Prospective customers also have high standards. Nearly half, 49%, of consumers want to see a four-​star rating for a local business before they open their wallets.

When consumers look for reviews, they tend to go to specific sources:

  • Facebook 20%
  • Yelp 20%
  • BBB 15%
  • Google 16%
  • TripAdvisor 11%

While positive reviews sway 68% of consumers, they also encourage 36% of consumers to factor in criteria other than price and location. For example, rave reviews about great customer service or an awesome appetizer could sway consumers to visit a restaurant.

As your clients seek to protect or increase market share, they need to be part of the review ecosystem. If nobody has reviewed their businesses, your clients are at a disadvantage. Work with them to encourage existing customers to post reviews on popular sites. They may fear engaging in this process because of potential negative reviews. You can assure them that 30% of prospective customers are actually interested in whether a business responds to reviews.

It’s not all that difficult to get people to write reviews for local businesses – over 60% do so. The more challenging part is to keep the process going. Consumers want to see reviews that are no more than three months old.

Your clients have enough to do on a daily basis. Propose a reputation management service contract to boost their position in the marketplace and your revenue stream.