Did you know that reviews influence 88% of consumers in discovering a local business? In today’s digital marketplace, online reviews are the key to getting found and winning the business of new customers. 

Multiple positive reviews help build credibility and trust for your business and can take you from slow days to almost too much business to handle (in a good way). The key is being consistent with collecting and implementing customer feedback and effectively maintaining your online reviews. Read on to learn how to generate more leads with reviews and what you can do to get started today. 

Why Small Business Reviews Matter

Today, online reviews impact the customer journey more than ever before. 

  • 93% of consumers say online reviews have an impact on their purchase decisions
  • 65% of consumers have read an online review in the last week
  • Approximately half of consumers are willing to travel farther and pay more to patronize a business with higher reviews

Online reviews also have a significant impact on the visibility and online ranking of your business. While Google doesn’t share the exact details of how they calculate local search rankings, they claim they give attention to:

  • Relevance 
  • Prominence
  • Distance

Reviews impact the first of these, alerting crawlers that a business is relevant to the searcher.

This means small businesses have the advantage over national chains on a local SEO level if they can consistently get new and authentic reviews. Local SEO benefits, however, are just a means to an end. The real benefit comes from what happens when your business ranks higher—namely, increased trust in your brand and the potential for an associated increase in revenue.

Additionally, keep in mind that most local businesses have only around 39 Google reviews. And those in the top three rankings typically have 47 Google reviews. Think about how many reviews it takes for you to feel confident about a local business—50? 100? There’s no denying it—people want to see lots of happy reviews before deciding to do business with a company. 

A steady stream of new reviews will significantly help you stand out from the competition. And of course, reviews are like produce. The fresher the better. 

Woman writing a review

Why Reviews Help You Generate Leads

Reviews. Influence. People. It’s that simple. And it’s even more true in regards to reviews for small businesses. They are 2x more likely to be an important factor in choosing a local business than loyalty, and 7.4x more likely than traditional marketing. They are the main factor in getting people to go from discovering you to buying from you. 

How do they do this? Online customer reviews help you connect with customers, improve your customer experience, provide social proof, and increase brand awareness. 

They Help You Connect With Customers

According to a recent study, 56% of consumers say a business’s responses to reviews have changed their perspective on the business. Your responses to reviews might not feel like a big deal, but potential customers see them as an indicator of the type of experience they can expect if they do business with you. If your business responds promptly and professionally to reviews, potential customers will see that as a sign that you’ll be prompt and professional when interacting with them. 

According to research, businesses are more likely to respond to positive reviews than negative ones. However, this should really be the other way around. If you have to let any online business reviews slide, miss a few positive review responses and respond to every negative review. Consumers are more likely to look at negative reviews than positive ones before engaging with you.

Taking the time to respond to negative reviews and resolve customer concerns can have a huge impact. In fact, 41% of consumers see a brand’s response to an online review as a sign that the brand really cares about its customers. This is a chance for your business to act fast and fix whatever mistake the customer feels your business made. Best practice is to respond within two hours—24 max.

They Help You Improve The Customer Experience

Online reviews can serve as a revolving feedback loop. You can effectively implement, test, and alter processes that affect your customer experience.

For example, a customer might leave a 3-star review for a dealership that says the cause for discontent was the hour they had to wait after the paperwork was finalized. That dealership might adjust its process to clean the car while the paperwork is being completed. The next customer who comes in leaves a positive review (maybe even noting this efficiency), and boom. Higher rating. More business. More reviews.

Reviews are one of the most cost-effective ways you can improve your customer experience as a local business. Enterprise companies spend millions of dollars each year to find ways to improve their services and customer experience. With online reviews, you can see what needs to be improved for little to no cost.

They Provide Social Proof

Reviews also provide social proof. Online reviews are just hundreds of people recommending (or not recommending) your brand; advocating for you, sharing experiences, and telling other people what it’s going to be like to work with you. 

That social proof is effective—29% of consumers make a purchase the same day as they visit a review site, and a staggering 89% make a purchase the same week. 82% of consumers actually report going to a review site for the specific purpose of finding information about products, services, or businesses themselves. 

Online reviews can also help your business identify potential case studies and evangelists. Happy customers are powerful assets to your business; it’s marketing you didn’t have to pay for. In some cases, you can reach out to people who have left positive reviews and ask for case studies and quotes to use elsewhere in your marketing.

They Increase Brand Awareness

Lastly, online reviews tell customers who you are as a local business. They increase brand awareness significantly, build your brand identity, and increase customer engagement and communication—proving to be one of the top forms of digital marketing. 

Your cumulative review collection tells a story of how customers feel when they interact with you, how you take care of them, and what makes you stand out. If you focus on building a strong online presence, your reviews will do the rest of the work for you. 

podium review request

Start Collecting Reviews with Podium

Why do all the work manually when you could invest in a tool that takes care of it for you? In today’s competitive landscape, local businesses need a reputation management system to optimize their review management. In fact, 94% of local businesses who use a reputation management software agree that it provides enough ROI to make up for the cost.

Podium’s Reviews tool lets you not only gather reviews from dozens of review sites, but also manage, respond to, and interpret your reviews from one convenient dashboard. Features like notifications when negative reviews are received, time stamps, and automation help you stay on top of the game. Additionally, Podium puts all your other interactions into the same easy-to-use inbox. This allows you, your team, and your customers to create a seamless customer experience together.

Want to try it out? Get started by watching a demo today!

Isaiah Rendorio
Isaiah Rendorio Product Marketing Manager, Campaigns

Isaiah Rendorio is the Product Marketing Manager for Podium Campaigns—helping local businesses tap into the power of SMS marketing to strengthen customer relationships, increase customer lifetime value, and drive more revenue.

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