A Neilsen study from 2012 suggests that 70% of all consumers trust online reviews second only to personal recommendations. And that was four years ago.
Ever the forward thinkers Amazon were the first to introduce online reviews as far back as 1997 and that’s almost 20 years ago.
But it seems to be only in the last year or so that people have realized the real value in online reviews providing positive third party endorsements of their brand.
Let me tell you the story about a client who had an issue with a grumpy bystander (not even a customer) who posted an unfavourable video on YouTube a few years back.
Back then it wasn’t really a problem. Nothing was done about it at the time. But it’s since become more of problem because the client is doing more online activity and unfortunately this little beast is served up pretty high when people are searching online.
And it’s really frustrating. All the hard work they have put in over the years to build a good quality brand with a sound reputation is potentially ruined by one small video the content of which is completely subjective.
The point is, it doesn’t matter. It’s the fact that it is there and every time it is watched it is not doing any favours for the brand’s reputation.
The problem we have is that being online by default means being in a fast moving market. One small problem can quickly escalate and the more engagement and attention online reviews receive the more they hang around.
While lots are subjective, there is no doubt that seeing a good vs a bad review dramatically alters a decision to buy. You see it all comes down to trust. Someone’s opinion counts as fact and the impact of that is massive. And it is that impact that is the difference between building a good or a bad reputation.
What’s more as search engines change their focus (did you know that Google now considers reputation as part of its algorithm) for those small businesses who care about customer service, it’s a no brainer.
Online reviews generate a much higher response rate than other online marketing tactics. We’ve noticed that when brands secure favourable reviews, the engagement on their online pages and click-throughs to the website significantly peak.
But I will advise caution. This is not something to take lightly and more importantly it’s also important to recognise that this is completely outside of your control. The good will come with the bad and you can’t just have the good. You have to be willing to accept that and deal with the bad when it arrives in a prompt fashion. The more you open yourself up online the more risk you have to take in being open to criticism and you might not like it, but its part of the game.
And finally, while the idea of online reviews to help enhance your brand reputation is an important strategy to consider, as with most marketing strategies it should not be considered as a standalone.
The good news is there is one thing you can try today. And that is to ask your 3 best customers to leave an online review, whether its on your Google+ page, Facebook page, or even a Linked In endorsement. Give it a go and see what happens. Do let me know.
If you want some ideas about how to get an online review strategy in place for your brand, please give us a call, we’d be happy to help.