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Geo 101: What Businesses Need To Know About Managing Reviews

90 percent of people say that online reviews influence their purchase decisions. Here's how to put your best (digital) foot forward.

From geo-targeting to voice search, technology is opening up a world of possibilities for marketers. But it’s also complicated, as new capabilities and use cases seem to emerge every day.

With the goal of breaking down some of the most important concepts to provide a better understanding of the basics — and a jumping off point for exploring how far technology may take us — we introduce the next installment of our GeoMarketing 101 series: what marketers need to know about managing reviews.

Why Reviews Matter

In the pre-digital days, reviews lived in the local newspaper. But today, everyone’s a critic — and any customer’s impression of a business can exist online, long-term, across major sites like Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, and more.

According to David “Rev” Ciancio, director for Industry Insights at Yext (full disclosure: Yext owns GeoMarketing. More details on that relationship here), reviews impact business in three major ways:

1. Reviews inform customer decisions: Consumers choose which business to patronize based on what other customers have told them through reviews.

2. Reviews drive better business decisions: Wondering how to improve your restaurant? Your customers may have already told you. Reviews contain the unfiltered feelings of your customers.

3. Reviews increase traffic and conversions: The 3rd ranking factor in local search according to Google is “prominence,” which means they are ranking your business against your competitors based on your public reputation.

“97 percent of consumers say they’ve read an online review in the past year,” Ciancio adds. “While you’re thinking about the impact that has on a business, let this settle in: This number is especially incredible when you realize that it’s up from 65 percent in 2010.”

Additional statistics bear this out, too: Approximately 90 percent of people say that online reviews now influence their purchase decisions, and 74 percent say that positive reviews increase their trust in a local business.

Essentially, no business can afford to ignore what customers are saying online.

Managing Reviews: What Businesses Need To Know

Businesses can’t simply delete bad reviews — and even if they had that power, they shouldn’t; it’s dishonest and can affect future perceptions.

But there are two major steps businesses can take to improve the perception of their online reviews: 1. Responding to the reviews online and 2. Incentivizing loyal customers to write reviews.

“There are plenty of reputation monitoring software services out there that can alert you — many in real-time — when a review is left about your business,” Sherry Bonelli, SEO expert and digital marketing professional, wrote for GeoMarketing in 2016. “As soon as you receive notification that there’s an online review, check it out: If they left a glowing 5-star review, you can log in to the review site/online directory and thank the person for their great feedback. By doing this, you’re not only humanizing your brand to that customer, but other potential customers will see that you care, too.”

On the other hand, if a review is negative, don’t despair: “Even though nobody likes it when someone says something negative about you, we are all just human,” Bonelli said. “There’s bound to be somebody who’s having a bad day that feels compelled to leave a bad review. Again, once you learn of that negative review, get on the review site and respond to the unhappy customer and ask that they give you a call so you can discuss the issue. That shows others that you’re concerned about feedback from unhappy customers, too.  [And] if you work it right, they may even change their review from a bad review to a good one.”

Finally, while it’s never a good idea to pressure customers into reviews or feedback, plenty of patrons are happy to help out their favorite business online: Research suggests that 70 percent of customers will leave a business review if they’re asked. So when it comes to getting glowing reviews, remember that it (literally) pays to ask.

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of GeoMarketing.com. A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.