Growing up, we were taught not to get in a car with a stranger, not to let strangers into our home, not to take food from strangers, and other best-practice habits to keep us safe and help us live long, fulfilling lives.
This week, I took an Uber to my Airbnb and ordered takeout delivered by a guy on a Deliveroo bike. And I’m safe and sound and writing about that experience.
The sharing economy has revolutionized industries and completely changed the way millions of people live–in only a few short years. We now ride with strangers, stay with strangers, invite strangers into our homes, and otherwise share our lives and possessions with people we don’t know except from an online profile.
But what makes people trade the security and convenience of staying in a hotel for staying in the home of a complete stranger?
The answer is many factors, but one large factor–arguably the biggest–is online reviews. Drivers, hosts, guests, sellers, and buyers all have reviews and ratings attached to their personas. These ratings and reviews create such a high level of trust in someone you’ve never met that you’re willing to take risks you were once warned not to take.
The Power of Reviews
A few months ago Google gave me two terabytes of cloud storage when I left my 200th business review on Google Maps. Arguably the cost to Google is only marginal, but the value to me (and them) is quite high. Why does Google reward reviews of other companies? Because they understand the value and power of reviews.
From a short-sighted, self-serving standpoint, the more positive reviews Google business listings have, the more those businesses stand to make, thus strengthening the argument to use Google local business listings and Google + for business.
From a wider perspective, Google (and other search engines) endeavor to return the best information to a user per the search query. Because of the strong research showing the positive correlation between reviews and increased sales, the more quality reviews a search engine can find, the better the search results it can return to a user.
So what about this research?
Here’s a fun infographic that lays out a number of compelling statistics around reviews. These are some highlights:
- 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business.
- 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- 72% of consumers will take action only after reading a positive review.
- Customers are likely to spend 31% more on a business with “excellent” reviews.
Those statistics are powerful. Nine in ten consumers read online reviews before visiting your business? And almost the same number of people trust strangers’ opinions as much as the opinions of their family and friends?
Then what if you could combine online reviews with recommendations from family and friends? Again, Google has this covered.
As an example, if you search in the Google Play store for an app or a song or any other product, any reviews left by people you’re connected to will appear first. So you can easily see what your friends and peers say about the product you’re looking at.
The same happens with business listings within a Google search. In the local business listings shown at the top of the search engine results page (SERP), you’ll see ratings associated with the businesses. If you select a single business, you’ll see reviews from your peers listed first.
This tactic is the same strategy used on Facebook and Instagram. Both platforms show you a few names of people you know who have liked or favorited a company or photo. They know that by showing you that someone you know has interacted with the post, you are much more likely to do the same.
So you need to make sure your business is listed on Google My Business and other search engine local business listings (plus it’s a good SEO practice), Facebook if you’re committed to a Facebook marketing plan, and other well-known review sites.
I don’t need to say much more about the power of reviews for your business. If you are not harnessing the power of reviews and ratings for your business, you are leaving piles of money on the table.
Thus far we’ve been painting a very rosy picture of reviews. But many business owners shy away from reviews because they are afraid of negative reviews.
This concern is valid and negative reviews should be taken seriously. The same statistics quoted above also talk about the immense power of negative reviews. However, a few negative reviews mixed in with dozens of positive reviews will likely not have a negative impact on your business. In fact, a couple negative reviews can show that your business is real which encourages higher levels of trust.
Overall we as an internet-savvy people understand that everyone has bad days and that people are more likely to rant about a bad experience than post about a good one. So any business is allowed a few negative reviews from emotional or irrational people posting on a bad day.
Negative reviews allow you to learn how to improve your products, services, or processes and often give you the opportunity to respond and let your brilliant customer service shine through. As you respond in a real, human manner, people will see your efforts to rectify a poor experience and will trust you more.
An in-depth discussion on the various strategies concerning reviews on and off your website must be saved for a later date. However, the benefits of ratings are clear and therefore you must be present on search engine local business listings and business review sites. You can implement ratings and review systems on your own website as well.
With the right review strategy, you can harness the power of reviews for your business!