Internet has made the world a much smaller place thanks to online connections. Today, consumers have wider selection of choice when searching for companies who can provide them with a particular product or service. Whether you have a large financial firm or a small local ice-cream store, your audience is likely going to search and compare your product or services online with your competition. When your audience searches and browses over to your business, there are key pieces of information every customer expects to see such as, your business contact number, location, trading hours and a website link. Online reviews are becoming increasingly popular as one of these expectations.
Customers have been exposed to vast variety of choice and has become important to them to know what their options are and what other people are saying about competitor products or services too before deciding to purchase. So, what does “improving your business’ online presence”, “brand building” and “online reviews” actually mean?
Your online business presence is conceptualised around exactly how well known your company is on the internet. In other words, what are people saying about your products and services on social media and websites? Is your company’s offering satisfying your customers enough for them to talk about it? Are your customers supportive of your company and brand? These are all things to consider when strategizing your marketing plan and building your brand reputation.
Online reviews and star ratings matter
An online review, otherwise known as a customer review, is a review of a product or service made by an existing customer who has purchased and used, or had experience with, the product or service of a company. Online reviews are essentially the shared written opinions of people who have experienced a product / service and they have the power to influence a potential in-market customer into becoming a purchasing customer.
Google offers reviews as written feedback or star ratings. This useful feature can be used for both organic search and paid search ads. You can enhance organic search results by adding the rich snippets widget to your website for customers to leave ratings and reviews. Google uses this rich snippet integrated information and extracts the content from your website to displays it on Google’s organic results as star ratings and reviews. Making use of this feature can increase the click-through rate as the star rating appeal is eye-catching and attention grabbing for customers who are browsing.
Google also uses ratings and reviews on local search results on Google’s SERP. This means that when an audience in a particular area is searching for a product or service, the list of results displayed is an indication of companies that provide such service within the area. Consumers who provide star ratings and reviews for companies on Google, play an integral role in where companies will feature on the SERP and also sets the quality of service to be expected by potential customers. Studies show that people will research online reviews before visiting a website.
Reviews are considered as social proof that a product or service is worth the cost, effort, and most importantly if the quality of product or service matches the quality mentioned by the business offering the product or service.
Brand Building to Customers
Although marketing is part of brand building, brand building is all to do with how you want your company’s brand to be psychologically portrayed and perceived in the eyes of the public. Consumers don’t always trust advertising since majority of the time the intent of advertisers is to enticed customers to buy into company product or services offered. Online reviews can build community trust which is why they are impactful.
Responding to reviews can build customer trust
Both positive and negative reviews are valuable to any company and act as an influence on customers. Positive reviews can help companies develop a strong online reputation and is more likely to attract new customers. Negative reviews give businesses the opportunity to build customer relationships by improving their quality of service and ensuing improved customer satisfaction. Customers who take the time to write a review care enough about the company and experience they’ve received so it is only fitting that the company responds to these reviews. At the end of the day, all customers want companies to care and provide for their needs and expectations where applicable.
What to remember
Reviews are found on almost all online platforms such as Google SERP, social media, online forums, Facebook recommendations and more. Companies need to stay tuned into what is being said about their business and use the information gained to their advantage to improve their product / service and reach more customers. Reviews are important to customers and they are here to stay.