How Positive & Negative Reviews Affect Online Reputation
Managing your online reputation is critical for business success, especially when you offer a product or service that others can review.
As the internet continues to grow as a source of information, more people are leaving reviews for businesses, for better or worse.
In 2016, according to a Pew Research study, only 38% of consumers left reviews for businesses that provided a product or service. But in 2020, that number grew from 38% to 72%. That means nearly double the number of US consumers leave reviews for businesses.
If that number nearly doubled from 2016 to 2020, imagine what it is now in 2022. Reviews are a vital part of your business, and your online reputation may suffer if you aren’t paying attention to them.
Of course, you are not the one writing reviews for your business, the customers do, so this article will help you understand the impact of reviews – both positive and negative, and how you can utilize them to be helpful instead of harmful for your business.
Both Positive and Negative Reviews Can Impact Your Business
Let’s start with the positive. Positive reviews have a significant impact on your business and your online reputation. Most consumers are likelier to purchase when a company has many positive reviews – reviews influence the buyer’s decision-making process.
If your company is new, try reaching out to some of your first customers for feedback. If they leave a review, offer an incentive like a discount code on a future purchase or a gift card to a local business.
Showing your customers that you care about their feedback can be a great way to filter positive reviews not only about your product or service but also about the brand that you are trying to create.
Overall, after reading positive reviews, consumers are willing to visit the business’s website, and the more traffic you get to your website, the more potential sales you can make.
With the major impact that positive reviews can have, so can negative reviews in the opposite way. Negative reviews are one of the most significant pain points for a business’s online reputation management.
Unfortunately, the world that we live in today is filled with cancel culture and internet trolls. Consumers are more likely to post negative reviews when they have a negative interaction with a brand than posting positive reviews when they like a product or service.
However, it is not necessarily bad if your business gets a few negative reviews. Instead, pay attention to review patterns, whether the reviews are consistently positive or negative.
Luckily most businesses have a combination of positive and negative reviews. When looking at patterns, if a consumer sees more positive reviews, they are likely to learn more about a business, but if there are more negative reviews, they are more likely to be turned away.
Focusing on reviews is an essential aspect of online reputation management and can make a big difference in the success of your business.
What Matters Most For Reviews
There are many different review platforms; some are better for specific industries or businesses than others. However, something that each business should strive to have is a Google My Business profile.
A Google My Business profile will help your online reputation and will be one of the first things consumers see when they Google your business.
The GMB profile gives contact information, store hours, location, and reviews from previous customers. This would be a good choice if you only have time to pay attention to one review site.
Aside from GMB, there are numerous other platforms for customers to post on, and each may work differently. But as a rule of thumb, certain factors rise to the top that will influence the consideration of your business.
These factors include:
- Star rating
Although individual customer reviews are critical, the overall star rating is most likely what consumers pay attention to.
Most consumers will not give a company a second look if they have a lower than a 4-star rating on any given review site. Sometimes customers might dive deeper into reviews, but most only look at the star rating before spending time learning more.
Businesses that fail to reach the 4-star mark on different review sites may risk losing nearly half of their potential customers; reviews have a massive impact on your online reputation and business success.
Some may think a 5-star rating is ideal, but that is not always the case. Although a 5-star rating shows that your customers love your business, recent research by the Speigel Research Center indicates that purchasing likelihood peaks at ratings of 4.0-4.7 stars and decreases when there is a 5-star rating.
Several factors lead to this pattern for consumers, and some may have to do with the other factors that influence the consideration of your brand.
Review Legitimacy And Recency
The reason why having a mix of positive and negative reviews on various platforms is that it gives your company’s reviews legitimacy.
If you have all 5-star reviews, consumers are not likely to believe that all of those reviews are organic and from genuine customers. Especially now, when many bots are roaming the internet, people tend to be more skeptical of only 5-star reviews.
Now, you don’t want more negative reviews than positive, but if there is an occasional negative review, it may help your online reputation, not harm it.
Another critical factor is the timing of soliciting reviews from customers. If your business has several outdated reviews and an influx of customers publish new reviews, it may not look great for your reputation.
Instead, focus on soliciting reviews through incentives, SMS or emailing marketing campaigns, or other marketing tactics on a steady, consistent basis to ensure that the review platforms are getting constant customer reviews.
Quality Over Quantity, But Both Are Important
Many businesses may make the mistake of thinking that quantity is better. Although it is essential to have a lot of reviews as this will help your overall star rating, quantity is not always the correct answer.
Instead, focus on getting quality reviews from customers who care about your product or service. Organic reviews that are well thought out and speak highly of your business are much better than those that are a simple ‘love this product’ with a 5-star rating.
Consistency is key. Most consumers read at least ten reviews during their research process before buying a product. So it is crucial to be consistent in sourcing many reviews that are high-quality and will boost your business.
What Can You Do To Boost Your Reviews Thorugh Online Reputation Management
Online reviews are primarily in the control of your customers, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to help your online reputation management.
Claim Your Google My Business
Google My Business is an influential tool for your online reputation. It will appear on the right side of the Google search results for your business.
It will always remain at the top of the SERP so you can have peace of mind knowing that when people search for your business, it will be the first thing they see.
Claiming your GMB listing will allow you to keep the information up-to-date and give your customers the most accurate information possible. Also, if you have high ratings on your GMB profile, these reviews can boost your reputation.
Prioritize Soliciting Reviews
Find what is best for your business and your budget. Maybe it’s sending a follow-up email after a product has been delivered to a customer, asking them to leave a review. Another tactic might be to send a text message with a discount code when they leave a review.
There are many different marketing tactics to solicit reviews, and you can even use software that will send messages to consumers automatically, so you don’t have to think about it or risk forgetting to ask for reviews.
However, soliciting reviews can help maintain a positive online reputation as you consistently focus on quality reviews.
Respond to Reviews
Responding to reviews can be a great way to show the consumers that you care. Whether the review is positive or negative, carve out an hour a week to respond to customer feedback on reviews.
As a word of caution, be sure to be kind and respectful when responding to negative reviews. They are bound to happen, and a negative review can feel very personal to the founder of a business.
Try to focus on what the reviewer is saying and think about how you may be able to help them or take the feedback and implement it. Informing them about what you will do to change can help you regain their trust, and others will see that too.
Display Positive Reviews
Make sure your positive reviews are easy for customers to find. You can install widgets on your website that pull positive reviews from various platforms to be displayed on your website.
This allows those visiting your website to see the positive things people are saying about your brand, and they don’t have to do the work to hunt down the reviews – a win, win for both you and the customer.
Overall, a lot goes into monitoring your online reputation through reviews. But using these tactics and keeping these things in mind will help you to get the best results possible and maintain a positive online reputation.