We live in a day when online reviews can make or break a business. Even businesses who serve a localized customer base and derive a fair amount of revenue from foot traffic can be impacted by the online chatter about them. Of course, some businesses are still surprised there is online chatter concerning their establishment, but for most, digital has become the marketing strategy of choice.
Word of mouth used to be king, and in some ways, it still is.
“Word of mouth still remains a powerful tool for marketing a business, and with the interconnected network of digital channels at our fingertips, it’s easier than ever for customers to tell others about their best (and worst) experiences. Online reviews are today’s word of mouth marketing, and they can make or break your business,” notes Thrive Hive.
Look at Millennials for instance. This vast segment of the population makes more online purchases than Generation X or Baby Boomers, and drum roll please, eight out of 10 never buy anything without first reading a review.
Mills have interesting shopping habits, all of which align with their tech-savvy label.
- They spend more time doing research before buying.
- Approximately 3 in 10 only purchase from sites they’ve used previously.
- Forty-five percent admit a preference for buying online due to the ease of comparing products and prices.
- Three in four Millennials feel online shopping is ‘easier than going to the store.’
I can personally vouch for the affinity Millennials have for reviews, for the importance reviews play in their buying decisions. Time and again, I hear them ask, “But what about the reviews?” and “Did you check the reviews first?” I’ve also witnessed a seventy-five-year-old frequent online purchaser seek reviews to aid his decision-making.
There’s an app for everything these days, and some apps exist for the sole purpose of collecting reviews and making them available to the public. Reviews are a mainstay on apps such as Yelp, Annie’s List, and Trip Advise; Even Google and Facebook allow customers to leave business reviews.
Not only do positive reviews on these sites drive business, merely showing up on these popular sites has an impact on search engine optimization (SEO). Even when the company’s own page doesn’t rank very high, positive reviews on a well-established review site can gain that coveted first-page exposure. As our society becomes more enthralled with online everything, one can only imagine that the making and seeking of reviews will grow in popularity.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Well done is better than well said.” A company can promote itself ‘til the cows come home. And we’re not talking hyped up praise or skewed sales figures, but rather honest-to-goodness stats and reality-based product descriptions. Still, comments from actual customers about the product or service will mean ten times—maybe a hundred times more—to a would-be customer.
Up next, how to get those reviews that will drive sales.
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