The True Power of Online Reviews
Today, every consumer has a voice. You have the power to share your own positive or negative experience of a specific product, service, or brand with the entire world.
88 percent of buyers trust online reviews just as much as recommendations from people they know. This is just one of the major cultural changes the internet has created: in the past, you only had word of mouth or a printed review to go on. Failing that, you simply had to take a punt and hope for the best.
Today, it’s a whole new world. You can find reviews of almost any restaurant, store, bar, club, independent retailer, or global corporation written by real customers. Search engines, directory websites (Yelp), social media, specialist sites (TripAdvisor), and others all host thousands of reviews to help guide buyers’ decisions.
How powerful are online reviews, and why?
Attracting New Customers
A kind word goes a long way. 72 percent of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a company more, while just 18 percent said the same reviews make no difference to their buying decisions.
These statistics suggest you have more chance of attracting new customers by promoting good reviews, so take the time to share them on your website and social media. These will give an invaluable insight into the level of service prospects can expect to enjoy, and build a positive image of your company overall.
You should provide facilities on your website and social media for customers to write reviews direct, rather than having to go to external sites (though this can still be helpful).
Boosting Your Rankings
Giving customers the opportunity to write reviews on your website may improve your organic rankings.
At the most basic level, reviews add fresh content to your site, especially if you have enough customers for new reviews to appear on a regular basis. For local businesses, a strong body of reviews can cause a star rating to appear in search results when users Google you. All you need to do is generate at least five reviews on Google+ Local.
Positive reviews will give your local business an impressive score, which can give you an edge over competitors that are newer or have less stars to their name.
Painting a Broad Picture of Your Brand
Customer reviews can cover different areas of your business respectively, or overall. For example, one buyer may simply review the product they bought from you, which is especially beneficial if it’s unique to your brand.
Alternatively, another customer could leave a review praising your entire service, from the easy checkout process on your site to the fast delivery and strong packaging. These might be areas you fail to actually promote, but potential buyers may well be curious about. Smaller elements all add up to make a big impact.
In such cases, positive reviews will form a comprehensive overview of your business beyond just your products or prices.
Showcasing Your Professionalism and Desire to Please
Of course, you can’t please everyone. There is a chance that a customer may be dissatisfied with your prices, your delivery process, or another part of your business entirely. If they share this in a review and give you a low rating, this can affect your whole online reputation.
However, it’s vital to keep this in perspective. If you have one weaker review for every 10 positive ones, customers are likely to recognize that they have a high chance of a pleasant buying experience.
Poor customer reviews give you an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to the best service and learning from mistakes. If you can, respond to reviews in a polite, accommodating manner. Apologize for any errors your business may have made and offer to make things right: this might be a refund, a discount on future purchases, or another form of compensation.
Not only could this possibly appease the dissatisfied customer, it also demonstrates your focus on pleasing everyone. This can help to keep your reputation untarnished, particularly if good reviews far outweigh bad ones.
Likewise, if you handle weak feedback in a poor manner, the damage to your reputation will only be increased. It can be tough, but it’s vital to manage your emotional response to unflattering sentiments – otherwise, an aggressive rant will make you appear less than attractive to prospects.
Always treat unsatisfied customers with tact and courtesy. They may be exaggerating a negative experience or change their mind at a later date.
Perhaps the most important point is to stay calm when you see poor reviews of your business. With the right response, you can transform a customer’s experience of your brand, leave them more satisfied, and possibly cause them to edit their original feedback to write something better.
Still, negative reviews can still help to build trust. Customers checking reviews only to find them all filled with nothing but praise may become suspicious, and wonder whether they should believe anything written about your business. Sincerity matters, and a healthy ratio of good to bad reviews is nothing to worry about.
Following on from the point above, your business shouldn’t feel restricted to responding to negative reviews only: interact with customers leaving positive feedback too.
This enables you to convey more of your brand’s personality and show appreciation of your customers. Independent hotels often thank most customers who leave kind words on TripAdvisor, but businesses in all sectors can take the same approach.
On one hand, it makes the reviewer’s effort feel worthwhile and shows that the business has taken notice of their feedback, Also, fellow customers will see the business in a positive light, which contributes to their entire view of the company.
Over time, a high response rate to positive and negative reviews will show you as a brand that really cares.
Online reviews are an integral part of marketing your business and managing your reputation. They should motivate you to make your company the very best it can be and may continue to attract newcomers to your business for years to come.
How Website Speed Can Make or Break Your Online Reputation
The easy access to information via smartphones has empowered Canadian consumers to make decisions faster than ever before, and they want to act upon these decisions straight away.
Any hurdles in accessing information such as slow load time of your website can negatively affect your online reputation.
Rise of Smartphone Use
According to Statista, 62.37% of the population in Canada used a smartphone in 2016. The Statista 2016 data showed:
A Google report showed that 82% of smartphone owners used a search engine as the initial step to gratify at least one of their needs.
According to Google, Canadians, in particular, use a search engine at the exact time they want something. This means that they’re more likely to be loyal to their needs than to any brands or products that they’ve used before.
An example of this demand to satisfy one’s need on-the-spot is the rise the search phrase “open now”. The search giant reported that search interest in the keyword phrase “open now” has increased 3 times since 2015.
Expectation to Get Products & Services Immediately
With the rise in smartphone usage, consumers’ expectation to get the products and services they need as soon as possible has also increased.
Canadian consumers, according to Google, aren't any more willing to wait even for a few days for their orders to arrive. They want to get the products or services as soon as possible. The tech giant reported that searches for the keyword phrase “same day shipping” has grown by 160% since 2015.
The Need to Know Where to Get Products & Services
Google research showed that consumers are using their smartphones as “anywhere” assistants, turning to their phones in search of stores where they can visit to get what they want prior to leaving the house – a phenomenon that renders store browsing close to oblivion.
According to Google, over the past 2 years, mobile searches for keywords “where to shop” and “where to buy” have increased by more than 100%.
Speed Equals Revenue
Whether your website visitor is a plan-ahead type, impromptu type or that last-minute type, each of these visitors all want the same experience: they want to get the information they want right here and right now.
The basic website load time can either make or break your brand reputation.
SOASTA’s report "The State of Online Retail Performance" released in Spring 2017 found the following key insights regarding site load time:
Google, for its part, reported that the average time it takes to fully load a mobile landing page is 22 seconds. Fifty-three percent of mobile site visitors, however, according to Google, abandon a site if it takes more than three seconds to load.
More than half of the overall web traffic, Google reported, comes from mobile. Despite this traffic lead, mobile falls behind desktop in terms of conversion rates.
Google researchers analyzed 900,000 mobile ads' landing pages in 126 countries. The researchers found that bulk of these mobile sites are slow and stuffed with too many features.
"Our research has been eye-opening,” said Daniel An, Global Product Lead, Mobile Web at Google. “For 70% of the pages we analyzed, it took nearly seven seconds for the visual content above the fold to display on the screen, and it took more than 10 seconds to fully load all visual content above and below the fold.”
You can check how your website fared in terms of speed at Test My Site – a free service offered by Google that analyzes your website in terms of speed and usability.
According to Google, these two are the top factors that affect site loading: number of site elements and number of images.
Researchers at Google said the high number of site elements results in greater site's weight and complexity. A typical webpage today, the researchers said, weighs 2,486KB and holds nearly 100 assets hosted on dozens of different servers – issues that contribute to slow loading.
The second factor that contributes to the slow loading of a page, the researchers said, is the high number of images. A typical page can contain logos, favicons and product images that can easily add up to two-thirds of a page's total weight – equivalent to hundreds of kilobytes. This results in cumulatively slow page loads throughout a session, the researchers said.
Reducing the number of elements and reducing the number of images in your site can make your site load faster.
Google researchers also found that webpages that have more images and other elements result in fewer conversions.
To speed up your site, a mere compression of images and text can make a big difference. Thirty percent of webpages, according to Google, could save more than 250KB through this simple process.
"It's no secret that shoppers expect a fast mobile experience,” An said. “If there's too much friction, they'll abandon their cart and move on. Today, it's critical that marketers design fast web experiences across all industry sectors. Consumers want to quickly pay bills on finance sites, get rapid results when they're browsing vacation reviews, and view an article immediately when they click through.”
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