Online reviews are an incredibly powerful tool for a restaurant or business of any size. From small “mom-and-pop shops” to large multi-location franchises, online reviews can have a huge impact on your bottom line.
Encouraging your current customers to leave a review online is one of the most important ways to help entice and attract new customers to your business. The reason for this is pretty simple and yet incredibly powerful… and all comes down to a very long-standing marketing tool.
The Power of Word of Mouth
Before we delve into online reviews, we need to cover the concept of word of mouth. It has been—and still is—the most powerful form of marketing. A Nielsen study shows that 92 percent of consumers around the world trust the recommendations of their friends rather than any form of advertising. If you think about this in terms of your own life it makes perfect sense. One of the first places you’ll try and get some idea of whether a store or restaurant is somewhere you would want to go, a friend’s recommendation goes a long way. Conceptually, the reasoning has to do with the fact that their interest aligns more with helping a friend than it does helping a business. People trust friends more than they trust advertising because they’re more likely to be speaking the truth.
The Power of Online Reviews
Online reviews are an extension of that same effect, however, instead of trusting their friends they rely on the word of other consumers. And it’s incredibly common that most consumers or potential customers look to online reviews with 97 percent of consumers saying they read online reviews before making a buying decision in 2017. Not only that, but 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from a friend or family member. That is an enormous potential for retail stores and restaurants to take advantage of.
To put it in another way, online reviews give you nearly the same effect as a possible customer asking a friend. Even better, because there are so many review sites, you effectively have a much larger pool of people recommending your restaurant or business.
The Danger of Negative Reviews
There is a downside to online reviews, however. 42 percent of consumers will not purchase from a business with less than three stars. Further, the most recent reviews can be the most important as 68 percent of consumers forming an opinion about your local business after reading just one to six online reviews. Consumers are particularly demanding of reviews and that means that even with a high average review of three or more stars, a few negative reviews could easily dissuade a potential customer from visiting.
All of this illustrates that not only are online reviews incredibly important for your business, but the types of reviews also have an enormous impact as well. In the next part of this series, we’ll cover different methods to promote positive reviews online and redirect negative reviews from a public setting.