Are Online Reviews Really that Important for My Business?

November 2019
 minute read
woman writing online reviews from bed

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past several years, you’ve probably read an online review of some kind. Whether the review was on Google, Facebook, Yelp, Angie’s List, or another review curation site, these reviews have likely made a lasting impression in your mind. 

Online reviews are the cornerstone of your online reputation and the only aspect of your digital reputation that you are not in total control over, which makes it difficult to know how to project a positive brand message and voice.

At Responival - the leading Pittsburgh web design firm and digital marketing agency - we know how hard it maneuvers the complex world of online reputation management, which is why we’re here to answer your biggest questions about online reviews, including:

  • How do online reviews affect consumer behavior?
  • Which industries are impacted most by online reviews?
  • What can I do to manage my business’s online reputation?

Drawing from an extensive amount of research and industry-leading knowledge and best practices, Responsival is here to ensure that you have the tools and knowledge necessary to make smart online reputation management decisions for your business.

How do online reviews affect consumer behavior?

Your Business’s Online Reputation Leads to Changes in Sales & Foot Traffic

person touching five stars

When you read an online review on any site, you’ll typically see how the business ranks out of five stars, a short description of why the reviewer gave that number of stars, and some supplementary information from the website or business itself. Studies show that 90% of people read an online review before visiting a business, and 88% of people trust online reviews as much as they would a personal reference from a friend.

This means that new potential customers will always be able to know about businesses that don’t serve customers properly and get 1 or 2-star reviews. Customers on sites like Yelp dive into issues like customer service, cleanliness, punctuality, overall impression of your service or goods, and more. Of course, one small issue can turn the toughest reviewers sour, leading them to rip apart your business as a whole. As a business, there’s only so much you can do about this (which we’ll dive into in a moment). 

However, what we know for sure is that positive reviews can help lead to new customers. With more than 25,000 reviews posted daily on Yelp, you’re likely to be reading reviews that are polarized: from the people who love a business and those who could not be less pleased. The simple majority of consumers read anywhere from 4-6 reviews before supporting a business or buying from them, and these customers are likely to spend 31% more than at businesses without positive reviews.

While it’s clear that reviews matter in driving sales and traffic into your business, that’s not the online thing that positive reviews do for your business. Online reviews act as a form of social proof, or the idea that if other people like your brand, they will too. Additionally, reviews can help with SEO, or search engine optimization, because search engine algorithms tend to favor businesses with a higher star rating.

Additionally, your business’s positive ratings on sites like Facebook, Yelp, Google, and Angie’s List help you land a spot on lists like ‘best hair salons in Denver’ and ‘best Pittsburgh web design firms,’ making it easy for new customers to find you. Overall, these positive reviews lead to an 18% sales uplift, which includes a boost in conversions and more. In other words, online reviews are an important part of the puzzle in helping your business thrive and grow.

Which industries are impacted most by online reviews?

The Leading Pittsburgh Web Design Firm Breaks Down the Five Key Industries Affected by Online Reviews

people at a restaurant taking a selfie

Capitalism inherently drives competition, providing businesses with an incentive to always strive to be the best in their industry. This means that all online reviews and online reputation management truly matters for everyone, but some industries are more susceptible than others for positive and detrimental impacts of good and bad online reviews, respectively. Some of the industries that need to focus heavily on their online reputation include the following: 

  1. Restaurants: As the leader of the pack, restaurants know how important it is to ensure their online reputation is kept solid. More than 33% of people won’t eat at a restaurant with less than four stars on Yelp or another review site, making it important for restaurants to manage their online reviews carefully.
  2. Healthcare: Surprisingly, healthcare is an important industry for online reviews. Parents often choose pediatricians based on word of mouth and the majority will check reviews to assess doctors before choosing a provider. This is why many hospital systems have brought review curation internal, providing them more control over what people say about providers.
  3. E-commerce: Businesses that sell products online are notably susceptible to the effects of online reviews. People want reassurance that they’re submitting credit card information to a trustworthy source, which is why 18% of businesses - storefronts and e-commerce sites alike - are paying Pittsburgh web design firms and digital marketing agencies to manage their online reputation and help create user-generated content.
  4. Hospitality: Restaurants are typically grouped into this category, but in this case we separated them out for their unique case. What’s left behind are hotels, amusement parks, and other entertainment-driven services, all of which rely on satisfied customers to stay afloat. More than 40% of people look up hotel reviews prior to booking, and we can expect this number to be higher for small chains, independent hotels, and Bed & Breakfasts.
  5. Tradesmen and Contractors: With sites like Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor, reviews about tradesmen and contractors are so important within the field, with more than 56% of consumers utilizing online reviews to decide on which contractor or company to use.

How a Pittsburgh Web Design Firm Recommends Managing Online Reviews

Four Ways to Tackle Online Reputation Management & Reviews

online reviews of a Pittsburgh web design firms

Reviews are important, but in some ways, it is impossible for a business to be in control over what people say about them online. Because of this, it is a business’s job to learn how to roll with the punches and put its best face forward with its online reputation. 

It’s important for businesses to be responsive to reviews: the good and the bad. For positive reviews, a business should always reply and thank the reviewer for coming in and invite them back. Additionally, savvy businesses share positive reviews on social media to enhance positive social proof.

Bad reviews should be handled in a similar manner. Businesses should respond to negative reviews quickly, admitting mistakes and looking for solutions to fix the mistake promptly. Whether this includes a gift card for giving the business a second try, a refund, or a hand-written apology for poor service, restitution helps consumers feel validated in their poor experiences. Once restitution is applied, the review can sometimes be taken offline.

In addition to managing reviews, businesses should keep a consistent social media schedule to serve as social proof. Up to 86% of people will look at a business’s social media before purchasing, making it an important aspect of every business’s online presence.

Additionally, Responsival - the leading Pittsburgh web design firm - offers online reputation management services for helping your business create a positive online footprint. By curating positive reviews and creating a space for dissatisfied customers to air grievances outside of a review platform, you can enhance your online reputation and drive more foot traffic into your business.

Think it’s time to tackle your business’s online reputation once and for all? Get in touch with the team at Responsival today to get started with review curation, reputation management, and social proof building now.


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