Word-of-mouth marketing has changed completely for the small, local business. In the past, if someone had a bad experience, it may only reach a few of their friends. In today's world, with the ease of online review sites, social media, and blogging, a poor customer experience can reach hundreds or even thousands of people. This revolution has caught many owners off guard and they are scrambling to figure out how to manage and improve their local online reputation. Many are hoping that Yelp will fail and online reviews will go away, but with Yelp's recent influx of $100 million in capital, they are going to double in size. Furthermore, AT&T will be launching a new review site, buzz.com. Customer content is exploding even more as the penetration of mobile devices makes it very easy to rave or rant at the moment it happens. Customers are posting about their experience before they even get the check! Here's a great example:
I don't know how I feel about paying $3.50 for a plain crepe. That's right. ONE. PLAIN. CREPE. $3.50!?! Anyways, I'm here right now waiting for my two crepes, starving and kind of still thinking that I paid too much for a crepe. It better be really really good. Waiting. Still waiting and there's only two other people here. Hungry. Eating. I'm not exactly impressed or satisfied right now. I should have just gone down the street to Osha and gotten real food. I got one plain crepe and a turkey and cheese crepe. Nothing special about them at all. What a waste. I'm going to cry one tear for my unsatisfied agony right now.
(Additional information: small restaurant with about 5 tables, in a decent neighborhood with an American Apparel across the street, has gelato, and accepts Visa and MC.)
The impact of reviews is very broad as well. 84% of Americans say online customer reviews have an influence on their decision to purchase a product or service. (Opinion Research Corporation, 2009). You can no longer avoid monitoring these reviews. In addition, if you’re business only has a few reviews, even if they are all positive, you are at an extreme risk. Just one bad review (1 star) can have an immediate impact on your overall rating and online reputation. Therefore, you should work on a company or store wide campaign to generate reviews.
There are a few other great reasons why reviews can benefit you: What many business owners don’t realize is that reviews have shown to actually increase profits and drive new business. Businesses with great reviews and online reputations use this as a competitive advantage over others in their area. Consumer research from the Kelsey Group reported, “Consumers are willing to pay at least 20% more for offline services that received an “Excellent” or 5-star rating than for the same service when it received a “Good” or 4-star rating, the study found. More importantly, merchants are seeing the effect on their bottom line. Of the 30 percent of small business retailers who had integrated product reviews into their Web sites, 43 percent said reviews had resulted in more sales, while 28 percent indicated reviews had resulted in more traffic. (Ratepoint, Nov 2009).
In addition, positive reviews can also help drive profits through local seo and may impact your rankings on local search and general search results. For local search and mapping sites from Google, Bing, and Yahoo, the search are aggregating reviews from many sites and use both quantity and quality (overall rating) in their ranking algorithms. It helps to get great reviews across many different sites as well. For sites like Yelp and Citysearch, review quality and quantity are very strong influences on determining rankings. Reviews can even benefit you on general search engine rankings. The more review sites that have content about your business (and links to your site), the more this provides validation and “trust” from the search engine’s perspective.
Review monitoring is vital for success for local businesses. The chatmeter is designed to help you manage and monitor your online reputation and save time from visiting over all these sites looking for your reviews. Not that you know the value of reviews and review management. Take a look at our posting: Top 10 Ways to Get (and Profit from) Customer Reviews: