The marketing landscape has changed drastically in the last 20 years and online reviews have never been more important.
In 1997, a customer's opinion of your business began in-store.
This was the world before Facebook, smartphones, and for most businesses, a basic website. Back then, the journey to purchase for the majority of your buyers was offline - i.e. your buyers would ask their friends for recommendations or they might hear about your business via a TV commercial, a newspaper ad, or a direct mail piece. After seeing your ad or receiving a recommendation they would turn to the Yellow Pages to find basic details like your location and your contact details. They would then visit your store to find additional information about your products, services, and offerings.
Fast forward to 2017, a customer's confidence in your business begins online.
Buyers today hear about your business from their ‘Facebook friends’ or after discovering your business listing on search engines like Google or Bing.
For example, let's say Liz just moved to a new city and she needs to find a new dentist for her family. She grabs her smartphone and searches for 'dentists near me.' She gets 3 results.
The first option has 15 reviews, all falling into the 4 and 5-star category.
The second option looks promising, but only has a few reviews.
The third option has no reviews.
Which one do you think Liz will choose? I think we can safely say that Liz would choose the first dentist.
Don't agree? Well, according to Search Engine Land, nearly 9 in 10 consumers have read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business, and 39% do so on a regular basis.
This is not to suggest that the buying journey is completely digital for every buyer.
Some buyers are still discovering your business when driving past it for the first time or seeing an advertisement in a newspaper or on TV. But after they've had that initial contact and their interest is peaked they're turning to online sources to find additional information.
For example, Gary has been contemplating buying a new SUV for a while -when he sees a commercial for the Kia Niro, a new hybrid SUV. He picks up his laptop and looks for more information about the make/model and then searches for 'Kia dealers near me' to see which dealerships have the best reviews.
We believe in the importance of online reviews in 2017 so much, that we’re investing in online reputation management in 2017 to monitor, generate, distribute, respond to, and analyze reviews for our clients. Stay tuned for more information!
What are you doing to keep your reputation in check in 2017? Let us know in the comments section below!