When it comes to improving the flow of customers to your business, online reviews can be one of the most affordable and effective ways for finding success.

Properly managing the reputation of your business seems like a no-brainer, but let’s take a deep dive into what it all can really mean.

How Many Reviews Do You Need?   

It’s not just about how many reviews you have. It’s also important to have decent overall ratings, and they should be recent. But generally speaking, aim for at least 10 reviews at minimum, and just as many photos (or more) in your profiles for Google My Business, Yelp and Facebook.

  • 73% of consumers think reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant

Setting Yourself Up For Success

Companies that do well in acquiring strong reviews are able to do so by having it baked into their process. Such as when you finish a job and send an invoice, it’s important to include an invite or request for a review. By including as part of the process, you'll create consistency in your efforts, which is where many are not able to maintain and assume it isn't effective. Consistency and commitment are crucial.

  • 88% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations

Asking for Reviews

Not every request will result in a review. People are busy. Most are happy to provide a review if they're happy with the product or service, it’s just a case of following up and making more than one attempt. Many won’t follow, fearing they might seem pushy, but persistence pays off. Allow a reasonable time between requests and be sure to ask 2-3 times. It's also important to ask soon after a sale. If you allow too much time to lapse your odds of receiving a review diminish a lot. Within a few days is advised.

  • 87% of people say that a business need a rating of 3-5 stars before they will use them

Should You Incentivize Reviews?

In a word, no. It’s the great product or service you provide that should be the incentive. If you delivered, it isn’t a big deal to ask for a review. Most customers are happy to do it. The trouble is, many businesses don't ask. For those that do, most only ask once. It often takes more than one request.

  • 68% say positive reviews make them trust a local business more

What if I don’t have any Reviews?

This can have a negative effect. Many consumers believe that not having any reviews is almost as damaging as having several bad ones. By implementing an action plan and process, you can start building your reputation and acquire online reviews from past customers. But if you don't have any reviews, it's not something to put off. They influence consumer decisions, as well as help you to appear within local search results.

  • 59% of consumers look at 2-3 review sites before they make a decision about a business

Related: How To Get More Reviews For Your Business

How To Grow Your Reviews

It starts with a great product, service or experience. Nail this down and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how accommodating customers can be when asked for a review.

It sounds simple, but that’s because it is. Just ask your customers. Like mentioned above, if you earned it, people are happy to do it.

Ensure you have set yourself up on my of the main platforms so it’s easy for your customers to show and share their appreciation. This can include Google+, Facebook, Yelp, Bing Places, and a number of other platforms, depending on the business you’re in.

As part of your process, sending a request just 2-3 days after exceeding customer expectations by email is possibly the easiest way to get those reviews to start rolling in

If you should receive positive feedback by phone, in person, by email or another way, ask the customer if they would mind to leave an online review.

Be sure you don’t wait too long before asking, or the moment might have passed. If you have things automated, it can be almost instantly after a purchase. If using more of a hands on approach, within a couple days to a week or two max is advised.

  • 94% of consumers would use a business with a four star rating

Focusing on acquiring online reviews and including the task as part of your process will help you to build your reputation. While it will initially seem difficult, the time is well spent and builds equity for your business.

If you’re delivering on a great product or service and asking for reviews as part of a regular process, the results will speak for themselves, as new leads and referrals begin to come.

Benefits of Negative Reviews

The optimal rating is between 4.2 stars and 4.5 stars. As the rating gets closer to 5 stars, the likelihood of purchase often declines.

Bad reviews are a part of life, since you can’t please all of them all of the time. But these are opportunities when you think about it. You won’t build loyalty with point-based programs or discounts, but you do through treating customers with respect and solving their problems. How you go about responding to negative reviews is also a way to demonstrate that you want to earn the business of your customers.

  • 82% of consumers look for bad reviews
  • 57% of consumers would use a business with a three star rating
  • 94% of consumers would use a business with a four star rating

If there aren’t any rating less than 5 stars, it leads many consumers to be suspicious you’re either suppressing feedback, or no one’s bought anything.

  • 95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see bad scores

Since about 88% of consumers form an opinion by reading up to ten reviews. This means it’s more important than ever to have a large amount of recent reviews, with customers reading them more now than in the past.

What Other Benefits Are There?

A good amount of healthy reviews not only provide referrals, they can also have a positive effect in driving more visitors to your website through local search results.

  • Reviews are important for local searches as they influence up to 10% of the ranking

Local search signals are attributed to many factors, with information from Google My Business topping the list. Other considerations can include Yelp, Yellow Pages, TripAdvisor and many other sites that offer local listings. Some of these signals include;

Local Search Ranking Signals.png
Image Credit: Moz

If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business page, this is something you should do immediately.

As you work towards improving your business reviews, this will lead to an improvement for your online “prominence” and drive more visitors to your website, and your business.

Google receives over 5 billions searches per day, knows the value of reviews and has added many of them from third-party review sites to a business’s Knowledge Panel. Almost half of those queries are related to local search, and 86% of searchers look-up the location of a business on Google Maps.

When it comes to local search, some types of business fare better than others.

local search categories.png
Source: comScore, Neustar Localeze, 15 Miles

Either way you look at it, local search, reputation management and online reviews are critical, regardless of what business you’re in.