What customers really want from reviews

Small business owners understand the need for customer reviews on online review sites. But outside of managing your online reputation, it’s important to acknowledge client take-aways from the reviews they read on your business. This is especially true as small businesses begin to reopen across the nation. Customers want reassurance that you are taking the proper COVID-19 related health and safety precautions. By paying attention to the aspects users view as most important, your business can attract customers back to your business while also boosting your search ranking. Here are eight items customers want to see from your online reviews during COVID-19 and beyond.

1. Recent reviews

When customers browse through online reviews, they are looking for recent activity. If your business is operating during COVID-19, customers will be paying close attention and looking for recent reviews that speak to the COVID-19 precautions you’re taking.

Interestingly, 48% of customers only look at reviews from the past two weeks. But if your audience is 55+, they will look at the past three months in order to make a decision. 

2. Number of reviews

You can increase your number of online reviews across online, even during the current pandemic. Just be strategic and ask your customers, making sure to thank them for their continued business.

Among the 67% of consumers that have been asked to leave reviews, 24% were offered an incentive. Those types of reviews bring us to the next item – legitimacy.

3. Review legitimacy 

Incentivized reviews may be noticeable to users looking instead for real, detailed experiences. Sixty-eight percent of consumers question the authenticity of reviews.

Your business doesn’t need to incentivize customers to leave a review. It’s more important to consistently offer exceptional services and the reviews will come because customers will be happy with their experience at your business.

4. Review sentiment

It may be surprising to hear that it’s not all about the star rating to a user. They may read a 4-star review and consider the sentiment to be lacking or superficial. This is why collecting authentic reviews should supersede reviews brought in by an incentive.

5. Reviews with images

People gravitate towards reviews with lots of visuals, so reviews paired with a picture play a bigger part in influencing users. For some industries, the addition of photos can paint a picture of the experience.

Recent research also shows that profiles with a high number of photos on Google My Business get more clicks, calls and direction requests. If your profiles are lacking in photos, now is a great time to add additional photos of your business.

6. Business profile completion

Without a logo, address, phone number and photos that represent your services, your business is faceless on review sites. Completing your online review profile can further influence potential customers to visit your business once it reopens. 

Help them feel like they know a bit about your business before even stepping foot inside.

7. Business engagement with reviews

Ninety-seven percent of customers who are reading reviews are looking for reviews with a response from the business. This makes it imperative for local businesses to respond timely and professionally. While you’re waiting for your business to reopen, go through your reviews and make sure to craft a sincere response.

Bringing on a listing management tool can make this task seem a lot less daunting.

8. Overall star rating

We saved star rating for last because it’s no longer the top item customers are looking at in online reviews. In 2019, recency replaced star-rating as the number one most important factor to online users. 

This proves that constantly building up your reviews on review sites in a genuine way should be your main focus for your online reputation strategy. Although your business may be closed now, online users are still looking for all of these considerations in your online reviews. Use this time to work on your online reputation to help build momentum for your reopening.

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