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I would like to believe that it is generally accepted by businesses to regard positive online reputations as conducive to success. Unfortunately, I don’t know if this is the case. Time and time again, I see businesses with horrible online reviews and no responses. Now, we all can probably agree that some negative reviews are blown out of proportion by the customer. It happens. But, when a company has several negative reviews without responses, I’m led to believe that online reputation management is not on their radar. Therein lies the problem!
In my opinion, word-of-mouth (WOM) is still the most powerful form of marketing any company can have. Before vast amounts of information was readily available at our fingertips—aka the Internet—a business’s reputation slowly spread for good or for bad. Now, WOM marketing is on our mobile devices, laptops, etc. and it spreads like wildfire. At the click of a button, a disgruntled customer can express their feelings for the whole world to see. One bad experience and now all of their Facebook friends know about it, from their distant cousins in Ireland to their long lost love from high school. Okay, I took it a little far, but you get my point. A strong online reputation is crucial to a business’s success and it starts with positive reviews.
More and more consumers are turning to online reviews before they make their purchase decisions. They want to read about experiences with a particular business, and they trust these experiences like a recommendation from a friend. According to a study done by Search Engine Land, 72 percent of consumers will trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation. This is a staggering number by any measure.
Even specific industries, such as automotive, have shown that online reviews are impacting big ticket purchases. A study done by DealerRater and Dataium concluded that “consumers are 90 percent more likely to visit a dealer website and 5.3 times more likely to convert to a lead after reading a positive review or seeing an above-average rating for that dealer online.” This should be a resounding siren to all businesses, especially dealers. Online reviews matter and they’re impacting your business.
If you’ve put your online reputation on the back burners then now is the time to come to terms with it. This has to be at the top of your internal operations and digital strategy for 2015. It’s by no mistake that many of the leading companies in their respective industries have stellar online reputations. They understand the importance of WOM marketing and how it can be detrimental if not properly cared for. So, is your business ahead of the curve and winning new customers with a strong online reputation, or are these potential customers going to your competitor down the street?