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Online reviews: What you need to know

John T. Lally

September 15, 2020

Do online reviews help or hurt a business? Depending on the type of review, of course, it could go either way.

First, consider what a good review can do for your business. Courtesy of Qualtrics.com, here are a few stats:

  • 97 percent of people read reviews of local businesses.

  • 93 percent of consumers say that online reviews influence buying decisions.

  • A Yelp rating increase of one star can equal a 5 to 9 percent increase in revenue.

  • Customers are willing to spend 31 percent more on a business that has excellent reviews.

Clearly, positive reviews can help your business—with word of mouth and even a revenue boost. Here's another important statistic: 91 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. As this demographic moves up to become your ideal client (and they will), it will be more important than ever to have those stellar reviews out there for the, well…reviewing.

Now, let’s consider what a bad review can do to a business. Here are the current stats:

  • 94 percent of consumers say an online review has convinced them to avoid a business.

  • 4 out of 5 consumers change their minds about a purchase after reading negative online reviews.

  • A business risks losing up to 22 percent of its customers when one negative article turns up in a search. Three negative articles raises the risk of lost customers to 59.2 percent.

A single bad review in a sea of good ones shouldn't tarnish your reputation. After all, you can't please everyone. But that also doesn’t mean you can just walk away from it. Bad reviews must be dealt with, and swiftly! Online review experts recommend replying to bad reviewers with a brief message to let them know they’ve been heard. Usually an authentic apology and/or an invitation to contact you for a resolution will cool the heat quickly.

If the bad review turns out to be unjustified crankiness, you may lose that customer (not necessarily a bad thing). But if the complaint is justified and you make it right, you may save the relationship and earn a diehard fan in the process.

Overall, it’s important to be seen online, and reviews are one of the best ways to make a name for your business. Stockpiling positive reviews can help a business exponentially. And while a bad review can hurt, if you handle it quickly and professionally, it can also turn out to be good for business.

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