Businesses have always had to manage their reputation, all that has changed is the medium, the speed at which information is transmitted and the number of people that are reached by that information. A business’s reputation used to be what they said about themselves in their advertising and the limited reach customers had via word of mouth. Now, customers define businesses by providing real time feedback through online reviews, social media, forums and other channels.
Managing a successful online reputation can be time consuming. You can use products, services or people to cut down on time expenditure, but whatever you do, maintaining the online presence of a business is one of the most worthwhile investments you can make. Of course, one of the most vital aspects of managing any online reputation is getting, monitoring, responding to and amplifying online reviews.
How important are online reviews?
Super duper important. Reviews were bigger in 2015 than they were any year prior. We didn’t even know they could get bigger! They’re bigger than Drake, The Donald and the Kardashians combined. Customer experience is the new marketing. Well maybe not new, but a return to grassroots in the form of digital. The importance of responding to customers could not be more prevalent. These stats illustrate that reviews are on the minds of all consumers:
88% have read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business (vs. 85% in 2013)
39% read reviews on a regular basis (vs. 32% in 2013)
Only 12% do not read reviews (vs. 15% in 2013)
Google has given us yet another reason to put our reviews where our mouths are. In Google’s markup—the annotated content that appears in search—of a company or product, reviews and ratings can now be included. “When Google finds valid reviews or ratings markup, we may show a rich snippet that includes stars and other summary info from reviews or ratings” (Google Developers). This is huge news.