Word of mouth is the oldest form of marketing known to humans. Before mass media, it was the only form available and people would go to great lengths to ensure their customers leave their shops satisfied and tell all their friends and family just how great service or product they got. Bragging is a natural human trait and we are all guilty of it. Today, word of mouth has taken a new form, the one with far greater reach. Instead of sharing their experience with their neighbours, customers can now share it with the whole world in the form of online reviews.
Some 90% of all customers say that their buying decisions are influenced by positive or negative online reviews, while 94% say that they won’t even consider doing business with a company that has less than four stars.
Still not convinced that online reviews matter?
Read on and see just how important they are.
1. Important Marketing Tool
When all said and done, word of mouth is still the most effective marketing tool any company has at its disposal, and online reviews are just that, albeit updated for the 21st century.
Understanding just how much online reviews matter and how they work is a crucial skill for any marketer worth their salt.
While you can’t directly create them, (well, you can, but people writing their own reviews is heavily frowned upon and possibly criminal), you can still manage them and make use of them.
Assign a member of your team to monitor all review aggregators and task them with responding to every negative one.
This way you can play a long game and avoid short-termism.
2. Building Credibility
One of the reasons behind the rapid development of the online gambling industry is the sites offering reliable casino reviews.
With their help, potential users have been able to gauge just how trustworthy each casino is and easily avoid scam artists and other potentially dangerous situations.
In turn, this has forced legitimate casinos to behave, since even the slightest misconduct will be reported and published for all to see.
Potentially, this can result in a loss of thousands of clients, something nobody is willing to risk. In the long run, it is a lot cheaper to run a squeaky-clean operation.
This goes to demonstrate just how powerful online reviews are and how much faith people have in them.
3. Online Reviews Expand Conversation About Your Brand
Happy customers tend to leave good reviews, thus increasing the reach of your brand.
They also tend to share any other good reviews they find, further expanding the conversation about your company.
Places like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and FourSquare are designed just for this and will be vital in your attempts to foster good reviews and track your customers’ satisfaction.
4. Bringing Back Dissatisfied Customers
When talking about why online reviews matter, it is important to note that bad reviews aren’t the end of the world unless you are getting them constantly.
In that case, you have some serious thinking to do. An occasional bad review, if properly addressed, can be a boost in your sales.
People like to see mistakes corrected and when you put in an effort to do so, they will appreciate it.
In fact, some studies suggest that dissatisfied customers, once their concerns have been addressed, become returning customers in 70% of the cases.
That is nothing to sneer at and you should take great care to answer all bad reviews, within reason of course.
5. Important Feedback
Regardless of how carefully you test your product or how many focus groups it passes, chances are that there will be some hidden flaws that can only become visible after prolonged use.
Needless to say, as soon as that happens, you will hear about it on Yelp first. In the old days, customers would just badmouth you in front of their friends and you would never get a chance to hear it.
Today, you will have a chance to correct the mistake and improve your product at the same time.
This can be invaluable, as it can save you a lot of money.
People will also make suggestions on what they want to see added in the next iteration of your product and practically provide you with a free R&D department.
If you are running a small business, online reviews may the best tool you have at your disposal for attracting customers.
Some would even go as far as to say that it is the only tool you need.
Regardless of how you feel about that, it is vital to understand that online reviews can make or break your company.