For small business owners, a great, cost effective way to understand how people appreciate your establishment is to monitor customer reviews. These reviews are honest, sometimes brutal, assessments of how people feel about doing business with you and your staff. Whether positive or negative, they give you a great opportunity to learn about what is working and what isn’t inside your business. More importantly, though, they drive perceptions about your locations to potential customers who are just waiting to make a decision on where to shop, eat or benefit from services like the ones you offer.
Benefits of Monitoring Reviews
Let’s elaborate on the different reasons to monitor reviews of your store, restaurant, spa, salon, or professional services business.
Perceptions are impacted
We hear it all the time. People don’t trust companies, they trust people. More precisely, they trust people like themselves. As a result, more and more people are looking towards online reviews to decide where to shop, eat or be pampered. 92% of consumers read online reviews. 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading just one to three reviews. And 80% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations. It’s up to you as a small business owner to monitor and respond to these reviews. Providing answers to problems and showing appreciation to those who praise you demonstrates that you’re hands on and interested in feedback. (Check out this great infographic that highlights the above statistics and many, many others.)
Search engines value what others have to say about your business. This online feedback provides them with fresh content to crawl, new keywords to index and backlinks that provide your website with credibility you can’t generate elsewhere. The more reviews collected about your business, the greater the chance of being found online. It’s truly that simple.
Look for patterns in sentiment and improve your operations
When you monitor reviews, it’s important to look for patterns that will help you make business decisions. Are people complaining about your hours? A specific employee? Product availability? Are your customers more likely to complain about your business based on the season? Do they complain about one location more than others? Thinking of these questions alone, you can already see how you can make decisions that will shape how to go about developing an ever-evolving business strategy.
There are people out there who really like your business and aren’t shy about sharing specifics with the world. Find these people, say thank you and activate them online! Identifying and activating your best advocates can have a great influence on those who are considering a purchase. Highlight their content on social networks and make it easily shareable for them to amplify on their own social media accounts. And, when you have a positive interaction on-site, don’t be shy to ask for a review. After all, encouraging positive reviews is a great way to sell others you haven’t even met yet.
The bottom line
While small businesses have challenges fitting all marketing imperatives into a budget, review monitoring doesn’t have to break the budget. In fact, solutions like the one offered by 10|20 Marketing make it easy to monitor these reviews, while leaving money left over for your other marketing initiatives. Ask how we can help you stay on top of this valuable market research!