Why Online Customer Reviews Matter to Local Businesses

by on April 30, 2012

How well does your local business leverage what customers are saying about it? If it was fairly easy and inexpensive, would you take the time to uncover and leverage these gems?

While you may already encourage word-of-mouth referrals and testimonials, what if your customer’s experience was only a click away, or easy enough to make so?

What I am referring to are the millions of customer reviews for local businesses already on the Internet, and how they can impact your business results. Let us take a look at recent survey results showing how prospective customers regard the experiences customers write about local businesses.

While most U.S. small businesses still depend on word-of-mouth referrals as a way for new shoppers to find them, whether or not you like it, the Internet is close behind, according to a survey by American Express OPEN.

Seek and Find: How new customers find local businesses

While 82 percent of respondents considered word-of-mouth when looking for a local business, 66 percent also do research on the Internet.

Following these top two sources, the survey reported are: advertisements (37%) Yellow Pages (23%), newspapers and magazines (23%), store front (17%) and other (21%).

Frequency of Online Lookup

Only 15 percent of consumers did not use the Internet to find a local business in the past year.
Eight percent of respondents do it every day.

Measure of Influence of Online Reviews

Prior to engaging with a local business, consumers read online reviews with noted regularity. Over a quarter (27 percent) of consumers regularly use online reviews to determine which local business to use.

Do you read online customer reviews to determine whether a local business is a good business?
27% Yes, regularly
49% Yes, Occasionally
24% No

Customer Reviews Matter

58% Positive customer reviews make me trust a business more.
25% I read the reviews but they don’t influence my decision on which business to use.
17% I don’t take notice of online customer reviews.

The survey report the concludes,

Positive reviews can establish greater trust between a local business and its shoppers. As customers rely predominantly on the Internet before committing to buy, local businesses must make sure their online presence is a good one. In fact, business owners may want to consider readjusting their advertising budget and using the extra funds to provide a better experience for shoppers, as this would help garner both word-of-mouth references and positive online reviews.

Regardless of how large or small a marketing budget may be, I provide my clients with two easy to use, effective and customized tools which help them acquire authentic, online customer reviews.

If you are interested in having one of these useful tools, write a comment below with a question, experience or other information that adds value to this topic, and you will receive one. First, you will receive an email briefly describing the tool, and what I need to customize it for you. This is a limited time offer, so act now to better leverage online customer reviews for your local business listing.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sunday Taylor October 22, 2012 at 9:02 AM

There are so many places for people to leave reviews. It seems the only people who leave reviews are ones who are extremely satisfied or extremely dissatisfied. Where do I even begin with providing a good customer experience on a shoestring budget? The amount of review sites out there is overwhelming and I feel so far behind. Thanks.

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Mary Brophy October 22, 2012 at 12:48 PM

Giving a good customer experience does not need to cost much, even on a shoe string budget. Making the right effort is more important than a big budget. Much of the job is accomplished when a business treats customers with respect, follows through on servicing their purchases and takes time to answer questions.

Getting online reviews is also more effort than expense. If a customer makes a compliment, ask them if they would be willing to write a review. If accepted, give them a card listing links to your review profiles. If you have their email address, improve your results by sending an email reminder with links to your review profiles. An email makes it a simple click for a person to log in and start writing. A consistent effort over time should help more than a sudden spike in the number of reviews. If you find these tips useful, there is additional tips for local business reviews here.

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