Why Online Reviews Are Just as Valuable As Your Website

Many businesses focus on website development and social media for their marketing strategies. While these are useful tools for establishing your brand, they’re not the only way to get your name out there. One marketing tool that many small businesses seem to forget is third party review sites. These pages on Yelp, Angie’s List, and Urban Spoon can make or break your sales goals. Here are three reasons why you should pay attention to these pages just as much as your website.

Online Reviews are as Trusted as Personal Recommendations

Online reviews are the new word of mouth marketing, which means consumers trust them just as much as a personal recommendation from a friend. Furthermore, 88 percent of online shoppers said they check online reviews before they make a purchase. Whether you’re trying to drive people into your store or to your website to buy your products, online reviews are the key to getting customers to say yes.

As your customers visit your store, consider asking them to leave a review online when they check out. This is a great way to get customers talking about your brand online and generating positive buzz around your products or services.

Online Review Sites Drive New Customers to Your Brand

The people who like you on social media or subscribe to your mailing list already know you exist. They might be existing customers or new customers that are coming down the funnel. Either way, the brand awareness part of the job is over. However, a business needs a steady stream of new customers to survive. This is where online review sites come in.

Review sites are unbiased third-party locations for new customers to get to know your brand and decide to visit your website. If you have a ton of (mostly positive) reviews, updated information about hours or location, and professional photos, then you’re likely to turn an interested researcher into a new customer.

Review Sites Offer Public Customer Service Opportunities

Many businesses worry that customers leaving reviews will actually drive away business if they have something negative to say. The fact is, almost every company receives a few bad reviews, but the best ones handle them professionally.

If you find that a customer has left a bad review, use the review platform to address their concerns and show that you care. In some cases, the customer might change the review once the problem has been solved, turning a one-star rant into a four-star rave. Responding to negative reviews also shows future new customers that any bad experiences will be fixed, so there’s a lower risk in trying your product or service.

Most business owners will do everything in their power to get customers to their website, so why would they ignore this crucial traffic driver? It only takes a few minutes a day to review the information on these review sites and respond to posted reviews, but those few minutes can have a major impact on a company’s online presence and eventually revenue.

Image via Flickr by UN Women Gallery