In today’s digital world, consumers have access to vast amounts of information when making a purchasing decision. Websites, social media and email marketing allow consumers to conduct in-depth research before purchasing, and they are doing more of it than ever before.
One of the most influential factors prospective customers look at online is a business’s reviews on local directories like Google, Bing, Trip Advisor, Yelp and many others. Positive word of mouth has always been important to local businesses, but online reviews now have a far-reaching impact on the customer journey, including whether consumers will even find a business when searching these websites and apps.
Recent research has shown that online reviews affect 93 percent of purchasing decisions because consumers place a high value on the experiences other customers have. These reviews do more than inform and persuade though. They also impact the search rankings on local directories as more reviews often result in higher placement.
Since they affect both consumer purchasing and search rankings, online reviews have a significant impact on a business’s bottom line.
According to a recent study by Womply Research:
• Businesses that claim their listings on multiple local directories earn 58 percent more annual revenue.
• Businesses with more than the average number of reviews on those sites bring in 82 percent more annual revenue.
While businesses can’t directly control the feedback a customer will give, they can take a few simple steps to ensure they are set up to succeed in this area and earn more revenue as a result.
1) Claim and populate profiles on key local directories
Local directories like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yelp help customers find providers for the products and services they want to buy. When searching these websites and apps, consumers can find contact information, reviews and additional information about businesses. As a result, businesses that claim their directory listings and add complete information earn more revenue.
2) Have a strategy to continuously generate reviews
Womply also found the total number of reviews a business has is more important than its overall rating. The more reviews a business has, the more information it can give prospective customers and the higher it tends to rank in searches.
It’s also important to constantly generate new reviews, as businesses that consistently have at least nine fresh reviews (within 90 days) earn 52 percent more revenue than average.
Automating the Process
Knowing online reviews have a real-world impact on revenue, it’s important businesses prioritize claiming their local directories and consistently generate reviews. While it can be difficult to claim, maintain and increase reviews on these directories, businesses have options to help automate this process.
Instead of claiming listings on up to 75 separate local directories, some marketing agencies have access to technology that can claim, update and maintain all these directories at once. This not only saves time, but also ensures the business’s information is consistent across all directories since it’s pulling from one central database.
Once local directories are claimed, there are also ways to streamline the review generation process. Asking individual customers for reviews can be time consuming and often one of the top reasons why local businesses don’t consistently generate reviews.
However, it’s important to know that 70 percent of customers say that they would leave a review for a business if they were asked. And there are now effective and flexible review generation platforms available that solicit reviews via email, text message and even the business’s website on a regular basis. By automating the sending and follow-up of review requests, businesses are able to generate more reviews in less than time than ever before.
For example, our firm has a client who has been in business for 116 years that increased its online reviews by 1,800 percent in less than three months by consistently sending review generation emails to all new customers every few weeks. The company now has significantly more reviews than its competitors, helping improve its search rankings and acquire new customers.
Online reviews are becoming more and more necessary in today’s digital age. Local businesses that realize their impact and how it affects the consumer’s journey will realize more increased revenues than those that don’t.
If your business is looking for ways to streamline the process of claiming and optimizing local directories and generating consistent online reviews, consider contacting a qualified marketing firm with expertise in these areas to help automate the process.