Why Your Clients Should Optimize Online Reviews

BY Kathy Crosett
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In-​person, word-​of-​mouth, references used to be the preferred way to check out a new business in town. Now, consumers rely on reviews. To survive, businesses must optimize online reviews.

It’s not easy to get consumers to post a review, especially when they’re happy with a service. More consumers, it seems, would rather leave a scathing review when things don’t go well with a vendor. You can help your clients navigate the tricky process of scoring reviews.

The Numbers

About 33% of consumers go online every day to look for reviews of local businesses, according to the Local Consumer Review Survey of 2019 produced by BrightLocal. And about 50% of consumers ages 18 to 54 are looking for local businesses online every day.

Not surprisingly, consumers read online reviews of some categories of local businesses more than others. The most popular categories correlate to how frequently we patronize these businesses. For example, restaurants, grocery stores and medical services are at the top of the list.

A good set of reviews can lead consumers to take the next step, which will result in a positive impact for your client’s bottom line. In 2019, consumers:

  • Visited the business website 32%
  • Searched for more reviews 28%
  • Went to the business 16%

Some consumers spend more time than others reading reviews. For example, the overall time spent checking out online reviews is 13.45 minutes. Younger consumers devote up to 18.19 minutes every time they read reviews. Consumers between the ages of 35 and 54 read reviews for 13.22 minutes, while potential purchasers in the age 55+ group spend 9.52 minutes on them.

Optimize Online Reviews — The Impact of Positive Reviews

There’s no substitute for positive reviews, with 91% of consumers saying this kind of recommendation will drive them to use a specific business. And negative reviews drive nearly the same level of, but opposite, reaction. About 82% of consumers will shy away from doing business with a company that has negative reviews.

However, don’t let your client assume that positive reviews are enough to succeed. Consumers have become picky.  They pay attention to the following review factors:

  • Recency 58%
  • Overall star rating 57%
  • Quantity of reviews 50%
  • Legitimacy 49%

In a significant shift from 2018, 48% of consumers expect reviews to have been posted within the past two weeks. Last year, that number was 40%. And in terms of stars, 35% of consumers will accept three, while another 35% expect a four-​star rating before they do business with an organization.

Most consumers expect to see at least 10 reviews posted for a business. However, AudienceSCAN survey findings suggest at least 12% of consumers want to see 15 recent reviews.

How to Secure Reviews

In their drive to optimize online reviews, businesses have asked the majority of consumers (67%) to rate them. Remind your clients that consumers will check out a variety of review sites and not every site will allow businesses to manipulate reviews.

Most businesses ask patrons in person during the sales (59%) or through email (54%) to write a review. Other common methods include asking over the phone (35%) or on a sale receipt (32%). Some business also sweeten the deal. In exchange for a review, businesses offer:

  • A discount 15%
  • A gift or free services 13%
  • Cash 10%

That said, 34- to ‑54 year-​olds are most likely to write reviews (80%). Your clients must respond to these reviews. At least 71% of consumers will consider doing business with a company that engages with negative reviewers. As painful as negative feedback can be, consumers want to know that a company will try to make things right when a customer is unhappy.

Pitch your clients with your review management services. When they agree to optimize online reviews, they’ll see big results. You can run a digital audit on your clients, available at AdMall from SalesFuel, and show them just how important reviews are to their target audiences.