Reviews are a tool to validate and grow your business. Adding customer experiences to your website is a useful tool for the success of any business.
I’m a small business owner. In our WordPress software business, online reviews are the critical benchmark for “should I install or not install.” Our WordImpress feedback can be found here.
Every morning, (yes, I do it every day), I wake and visit WordPress.org to look at our statistics.
You do the same, too. Yes, reviews validate. Yes, they need to be on social media. Yes, they need to be on your website.
Online Reviews are the New Word of Mouth
Asking our customers and friends for reviews is not a new practice. It was in vogue at most times in our human history. In fact, “word-of-mouth” as a marketing strategy isn’t new, either.
One of my great influences in business thinking, David Ogilvy, wrote about reviews at length in his Confessions of an Ad Man in 1963! And guess what? He used reviews to sell and launch fluoride toothpaste! Reviews are not new.
As was then, is now — stellar reviews from real people are required for success. We just put them on social media and our own websites, rather than in a daily reader or in a chamber of commerce handout.
I have to tell you, I’m still an in-person review kinda guy. If you are too, I get it. However, data shows that most folks have assimilated much of their lives into the online world. In the absence of in-person word-of-mouth. People rely upon online reviews. Whether it’s Yelp or Facebook, Google or Amazon, they read what people say…and are influenced by it. A wise friend once told me, “fish where the fish are biting, Jason”.
“These reviews legitimize your business and give potential customers a better understanding of what you do and why you’re superior to your competitors,” John Rampton.
In every purchase decision, our unscientific poll on Twitter showed that 65% of respondents read four to seven reviews. That is quite a bit of reading — we’re estimating a minimum of twenty minutes.
Ratings Matter for Local Businesses
Ratings are about trust. In local communities, when a financial transaction is about to occur, the most important impression is trustworthiness. After that, as consumers, we consider the quality of the product, the reliability of the item purchased, or the ambiance of the brick and mortar location.
“Whether they’re stars or circles, the majority of rating icons send a 1–5 point signal to consumers that can be instantly understood. This symbol system has been around since at least the 1820s; it’s deeply ingrained in all our brains as a judgment of value,” Miriam Ellis.
Whether it’s a star or another symbol like a fork or a tomato, we understand this rating. One hundred is easily divided by five and we innately understand percentages. Five stars is great. Three stars is okay if the price is right. One star is unacceptable.
“Star rating is the most important review factor for consumers when they analyze the reputation of a local businesses. There is a huge jump in the number of consumers who would consider a business with two stars versus three stars (13 percent versus 57 percent), and there’s another big jump for four stars (94 percent),” Myles Anderson.
It’s all about recency!
It’s 2018. Not 2008. Not 1998. We all demand up-to-date information. It’s no different with reviews. If an establishment had a few one-star reviews five years ago, we’re more likely to empathize with them, see them as the underdog, and give them a second or seventh chance. The business could have changed ownership, been coached by a business advisor, or fired the problem employee. Right?
“With most consumers only reading a handful of reviews, the most recent reviews are the ones they’re likely to see, which makes it critical for local businesses to monitor their new reviews and act on them so that any negative reviews are managed carefully and quickly,” Myles Anderson.
As a local business, it’s important to continuously encourage your clients to post reviews. Additionally, small businesses should add reviews to their website. How this is done is entirely up to you. Including them on your local website is a good way to highlight your customers as well as your local business.
Add Reviews on Your Web Property
Adding reviews to your website doesn’t just look good to customers, it looks good to Google, too. The great news is that with WordPress, adding reviews to your website is an easy thing to accomplish.
“Review sites that syndicate their reviews to other sites (including Google) are also more valuable than those that keep their reviews to themselves. Not only do you get the benefit of potential customers seeing your reviews on more websites, but Google may actually count these reviews multiple times in its ranking algorithm.” Moz Local.
Even better, is to include a review and respond to it in a blog post. Done well, this gives you content for your local business blog and helps give context that’s often missing — especially in low-star reviews.
For example, if your local business got a 5-star review for a 50th birthday party cake you could then write a blog post about how you, as the local business owner, enjoyed meeting your customer and the journey to delivery. Include their review, your photos, and maybe even a call to action for people to order their custom cakes.
This is good for findability, credibility, and to encourage more online reviews. It’s a win-win-win.
Online Reviews and Local Business
Whether your local business is a brick and mortar or only exists online, your customers will find you if you have recent, highly-rated online ratings. Encourage reviews from your customers and use that as content on your website with WP Business Reviews.