Back when online review sites started to become popular, they only applied to a few industries (like restaurants and hospitality). But fast-forward to today, and it seems no business is safe from the digital grasp of review sites, including health clubs, doctors’ offices, beauty salons, contractors and much, much more. This has really changed the way that consumers select companies to patronize – and as such, it should also change the way those same companies manage their online reputation.

If you’re wondering why reviews matter (or if they do), the answer is: yes! They may even be what stands between you and your next customer, or what convinces that customer to choose you. Here’s why the digital measuring stick matters so much.  

Reviews Feel Personal

Many studies have suggested that referrals from friends and family members, commonly known as word-of-mouth marketing, are extremely powerful. For instance, it has been found that 91 percent of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews and 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. This means that review sites are very likely to be where your prospects and customers head to find out if your brand is worth their time and money.

Once they land on a review online, there’s a good chance they’ll believe what it says. After all, part of the draw of reading reviews is that they feel like personal recommendations (or warnings) from friends. Even if a consumer doesn’t know the people leaving the commentary, they know they’re a real person (on vetted, trustworthy review sites, at least) and can feel confident the opinions at hand are real and personal. To reinforce one of the stats above, this often holds as much weight as a personal recommendation would (which is a lot).

They Seem Unbiased

Another reason why digital reviews can dramatically shape a consumer’s view of your brand is because they appear to be objective. Of course, a reviewer might have an ulterior motive (for example, a positive or negative personal relationship with someone at the company they’re reviewing could compel someone to unfairly heap praise or level criticism). But by and large, the average consumer likely assumes the individuals leaving the reviews are not being financially or otherwise incentivized to do so. This leaves the appearance that the ratings and comments on a site are fair and deserved, which instills trust in the person scrolling through reviews.

Reviews Offer Broad and Deep Insights

Finally, online reviews can hold a great deal of influence in the eyes of consumers because they often cover a lot of ground. For example, a workout enthusiast can only gather so much information about a health club from its website or even from taking a tour. But if they head to a review site, they might learn that the particular club they’re looking into is regularly lauded for its cleanliness, the skill of its personal trainers and its friendly front desk staff.

They wouldn’t have an insider’s view into all of this if they didn’t have a review platform to turn to. The comprehensive insights they can get from checking out multiple reviews can help answer some of their questions, and fill in the gaps, before making a decision about a purchase or commitment.

These are the nuts and bolts of why reviews matter so much. But did you also know there’s a lot you can do to improve your digital reputation, and what’s being said about you in online reviews? Stay tuned for our soon-to-be-released e-book about the next wave of marketing trends, including a chapter on improving your online reviews.

And, as always, contact us if you’d like help with any part of your digital marketing strategy.