Why Are Online Reviews Important?


Why are online reviews important? Online reviews assist customers in their buying journey and provide helpful feedback about your company.

Posted: Apr 12, 2021
Last Updated: Apr 12, 2021

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People walking on path while writting reviews on their phones

Why are online reviews important? Online reviews are playing a larger and larger role in digital marketing and sales. Customers (potential and current) are constantly reading online reviews to discern if they should buy a product, hire a company, visit a destination, or eat at a restaurant.

Over the years, the popularity of online reviews has been increasing. The statistics alone prove why online reviews are important:

  • In a 2019 study, 61% of U.S. online shoppers said the quantity of reviews was important to them.
  • According to a BrightLocal study last year, 87% of customers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020.
  • Now in 2021, 93% of customers read online reviews before buying a product and 94% of all purchases are made for products with an average rating of 4 stars and above.

Like it or not, online reviews are becoming a key component of your company’s overall reputation in the public eye. Let’s break down where these reviews are coming from, how to handle both positive and negative reviews, and how you can take advantage of these reviews in order to help your business grow.  

Where are reviews coming from?

Online reviews come from a number of websites and social media channels. Here are some of the top sites on which customers leave reviews:

Google My Business
  • If you haven’t claimed your company’s listing on Google My Business, now’s the time. Why? Because prospective customers can learn key information about your company without even having to go to your website.
  • When it comes to online reviews, Amazon is a no-brainer. If you have products that are sold on Amazon, chances are, customers have left reviews.
  • On every Facebook business account, there’s a tab for reviews where customers can either recommend or not recommend your company. These reviews are also pulled onto Google search as a star rating under the Google My Business box.
  • Yelp is a very popular review site where you can search for just about any business. In order to see reviews left by customers, you’ll have to claim your company’s page.
  • For reviews pertaining to vacations (think rentals, restaurants, tourist spots) TripAdvisor is the site. Many people look to the reviews on TripAdvisor when planning out a vacation.
Better Business Bureau
  • BBB allows customers to search for any kind of business or charity and leave a review on a scale of A+ to F. If your company fulfills certain credentials you’ll be marked as a BBB “Accredited Charity.”
Angi (previously known as “Angi’s List”)
  • Angi is the place for finding home services. If you are a roofer, plumber, handyman, etc., Angi likely has a page for your business with customer reviews.

Buyer-beware when it comes to third-party review websites that charge for access. While these sites may have some reviews of your business, your efforts are best spent where the majority of your audience resides.

How can online reviews help your business?

Online reviews in general can help provide an accurate profile of your business or organization to potential customers. As a result, this can increase the confidence and trust your audience will have for your organization.

Reviews increase your presence on the web

One of the most obvious benefits of online reviews is that they help you to get noticed by more people. Reviews can kick start a conversation about you and give your company a face and a reputation (Of course, this can have both positive and negative effects, which we will discuss later in this post).

Reviews can benefit your search engine rankings

Reviews can be very helpful for SEO and SEM, especially on Google. Online reviews are factored into Google search results which help to drive your appearance in the search listing. In fact, according to a Moz study, online reviews make up 15.44% of Google ranking factors. That means the more reviews you have, the more your name will appear, helping to increase your search engine rankings.

Here’s an example of a search results page for Rachel Pauls Food. Notice that in addition to a title, image, and description, there is also a 5-star rating:

Rachel Pauls Food search results show 5 star rating

Reviews help you get noticed locally, too. When you look up a local business on Google Maps, a review will appear alongside the Google My Business information. In fact, the 5-star rating is the first piece of information that appears under the name of a company.

local results on Google maps

Reviews on google maps

Reviews can help with sales

Maybe you have a potential customer who’s on the fence about making a purchase. Reviews can serve as that final nudge that convinces a customer to convert.

Our client, Boogie Wipes, makes more sales thanks to all the customers who leave 5-star reviews. Moms who are shopping for baby wipes are more convinced to buy after reading first-hand reviews from other moms.

Boogie Wipes product detail page with reviews

Reviews help to improve your business

Not sure if your marketing messages are resonating or if your product is satisfying the needs of your customers? Online reviews can help verify if your efforts are working or wasted. Hearing about a customer’s first-hand experience with your product or services allows you to assess where the gaps are and where more effort can be given.

How can online reviews hurt your business?

While there are many pros to online reviews, there are also a few cons, namely negative and false reviews. Let’s discuss how these reviews could be hurting your business and what you can do to change that.

How to respond to negative reviews

Negative reviews. Every business owner dreads them. It’s an unfortunate fact, but most customers are two to three times more likely to leave a review after a negative experience than after a positive one. Human nature is wired in such a way that we tend to dwell on angry or frustrating experiences for longer periods of time than on positive experiences. In many ways then, negative reviews can speak louder than positive ones. For that reason, it is extremely important that negative reviews are handled in the right manner.

Even if you hate reading negative reviews, read them anyway. Customer feedback is too valuable to disregard. If you have a lot of poor reviews, maybe your business actually needs to work on improving your customer experience and satisfaction.

Negative reviews can be posted by competitors or disgruntled customers alike. Regardless of how scathing or critical the review is, leave a polite response. If a customer had a negative experience, make a genuine apology and even ask follow-up questions for more details. Ensure the customer that you appreciate their feedback and will work to improve their experience.

Responding to reviews improves ratings

Why is responding to reviews so important?

A Harvard Business Review study from 2018 found that there was a direct correlation between businesses responding to reviews and improved ratings. The study examined the reviews of thousands of hotels on TripAdvisor. The hotels that responded to both positive and negative reviews experienced 12% more reviews, causing their ratings to increase. According to the study, “once hotels started responding, they experienced a sharp drop in the rate of short negative reviews.

The bottom line is – respond, respond, respond! While it’s near impossible for a business to completely avoid any negative reviews, the Harvard study proves that responding to negative reviews can result in a positive outcome.

How to respond to false reviews

What about false reviews? When you come across a false review, address it quickly and logically. It’s important to respond back and address the claim publicly so that both current and potential customers can know the truth and see the owner addressing claims that may be exaggerated or outright false. On Google My Business you can flag a review and report a violation if needed.

As a note, never purchase reviews. Skewed reviews that are overly positive don’t provide an honest, unbiased profile of your organization, service, or product you provide. Instead, purchased reviews make you look fake because they are fake.

Getting the right reviews

If there could be one key takeaway from this post, it would be this: The more reviews, the better!

A current, steady stream of objective reviews is the ideal goal for your business or organization. Having old reviews will portray your business or organization as outdated. A limited amount (say under 10) provides too small of a window into service or product satisfaction. So get those relevant reviews added up! What can you do to obtain more reviews from customers?

Ask for a review

Want more reviews? Ask for them! Strategically time when you ask for a review according to your customer’s stage in the sales funnel. For instance, after a customer has re-ordered one of your products or services or reached a project milestone, it would be a good time to ask for a review.  Be careful that you don’t ask for a review at the wrong moment. It would be imprudent to ask for a review after a user has only visited your site once without calling or buying anything.

When asking for a review, phrase the question along the lines of “How are you enjoying our product?” or “We’d love to hear your feedback!” Point your customer towards one or two popular sites where the majority of your reviews are being seen (ex. Google My Business or Facebook). If you miss the opportunity at the time of the transaction, you can follow up later via email, social media, phone call, or in person. Offer an incentive like a future discount to encourage your customer to act now.

Highlight positive reviews

If your customers have written glowing reviews, use them! Highlighting positive reviews through social media, email, or other marketing efforts can be a good way to draw attention to your product or service by letting others speak for you.

Here’s an email example from Donald Miller, founder of StoryBrand. In order to incentivize his subscribers to buy his new book, he highlights the positive reviews on Amazon:

highlight positive online reviews in an email

Reviews can also serve as testimonials on your website. Well-placed reviews can help to provide confidence in a user’s decision. For example, towards the end of our home page, there’s a “success section” where we’ve added several testimonials.

testimonial section on USDP home page

Is it important to have reviews directly on your website? Not necessarily. Depending on your business, reviews may hinder your user’s experience. Identify where your audience resides and which site and/or social channel makes the most sense for highlighting reviews.

Why are online reviews important?

Online reviews have increasingly become the front to your digital reputation. Reviews help you get noticed, lead to more sales, improve search engine rankings, inform your business, and convince customers to pick up the phone and call you. Now’s the time to start caring about your online reviews.

Have questions about your online reviews? Click here to talk further or give us a call: 513-929-4603.

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Joe Kruessel

Creative Director

If you want different results, let’s do something different, together.

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