Local reviews matter and can have a real and lasting impact for local businesses. Search Engine Land recently found that 92% of customers read online reviews for local businesses. That means someone is likely looking your business up on Yelp or another review platform before ever trying out your product or service. 

The world has gone digital, but consumers have not forgotten the mom and pop stores that dot the nation. What store owners need to come to terms with is a new kind of competition. Consumers will search for company names, reviews, products, services, and compare prices online  before ever grabbing their car keys to stop at your shop. According to an article by AdWeek, 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making a purchase, 60% begin by using a search engine to find the products they want, and 61% will read product reviews before making any kind of purchase. People search online first because it saves them time by narrowing down the options and deciding on exactly what they want before wasting their time wandering around a store or driving from store to store.

When potential clients research online, for example with Yelp or another local search engine, a company without location data and reviews is not going to get the response it would otherwise. If people can’t find where your business is located or you don’t have any customer reviews to display, it is harder for consumers to trust your brand and they will likely search elsewhere. For example, if someone is looking for a specific shirt for a themed party the next day, they will probably search online to see if your store carries it and where you are located before driving there just to find out it is not in stock. Likewise, if your store has negative reviews for that item, or none at all, guiding the consumer on their purchase decision, they might also look elsewhere.

Reviews are nothing to be afraid of. A large part of your success is likely  tied to a good product and strong customer service feedback. The first step is to ask your happy customers to write those reviews (even unhappy ones can provide valuable insights into your business) and then get some insider help to put those good reviews to work. Here are a few key reasons why reviews, negative or positive, are so important and valuable to your business.

One reason is that more than half of people searching products and services online actually read these reviews and they impact buyer’s choices. It influences their zero moment of truth, the moment that sits between the customer’s stimulus, an ad or an online review, and the first moment of truth, when a customer experiences the product in a store. In other words, reviews help customers confirm whether they are going to pick up the car keys and drive to your location or click the “submit order” button in your online store.  

Another reason reviews are valuable is because both good and bad ones can be influential to your customers and for the overall improvement of your business. Good reviews let you and your customers know that you are doing something right. Negative reviews may slow customers down on their way to your front door, but they can give you – the business, a good insight on how to improve your products, services, or most importantly, your customers’ experiences.

Finally, having reviews means that you are engaging with your audience and visible for the whole digital world to see. How you respond to these reviews plays a huge impact on your customer’s perception of your business, which we cover in another blog, Three Ways Not To Wreck Your Reviews. It’s advantageous to your business and customers to see you responding to their comments and concerns, showing everyone that you genuinely care and are committed to building trust and great customer service.

Trust us. Your target audience is searching for you, so it’s best to make it easier for them by showing up where they are looking. If you need any more clarification on this topic, or want to learn more about local marketing for multi-location business, please contact us!

Image by SaSsY WiTCH via Flickr CC