online reviews

10 Reasons Why Your Business Must Manage Its Online Reviews

Social proof is not just a marketing buzzword.

Before buying a new product, visiting a store or even choosing a doctor, today’s consumer goes in search of online reviews. It’s become an integral part of the buying process and an important contributor to the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT), the instance when a person has decided to buy – often well before actually purchasing online or visiting a store. The ZMOT makes the active management of online reviews essential and one of the most impactful forms of marketing a business can do.

Customer reviews are also a numbers game. Consumers have caught on to the power of reviews and no longer hesitate to assign a 1-star rating to a business after a negative experience; chances are they will add a comment too. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to collect, manage, answer, and leverage your company’s online reviews.

Let’s look at the data and 10 reasons why your business must manage its online reviews – plus the key takeaways:

1. Online reviews establish credibility.

85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. 1

2. Consumers want timely information about your business.

44% of consumers say a review must be written within one month to be relevant. 2

3. The number of online reviews matters.

88% of consumers form an opinion by reading up to ten reviews vs. 84% in 2014. 3

4. Online reviews need to be consistent.

Overall rating/score is the most important factor when a consumer is looking at online reviews. 4

5. Consumers look for businesses with 4-star and 5-star reviews.  

49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business. 5

It’s more important than ever to collect, manage, answer, and leverage your company’s online reviews.

6. Positive online reviews on third-party sites can help your search ranking.

Google uses structured data to include extra information in the search results…. Potential customers will get a good idea of the quality of your business, right in the search engine. 6

7. The top 5 review sites see almost 400 million unique visitors monthly.

The top five online review sites measured by average monthly U.S. traffic (unique visitors) are Google My Business (158 million), Facebook (86 million), Amazon (85 million), Yelp (40 million), and TripAdvisor (28 million). 7

8. Consumers seek out product reviews.  

In 2017, 74% of consumers consulted review sites like Amazon, Bestbuy, Wayfair, Target, and Walmart. 8

negative online customer reviews9. Negative reviews turn potential customers away.

A business can lose 70% of potential customers if four or more negative articles about the company or product appear in Google search results. 9 

10. Millennials and Gen-Xers actively rely on online reviews.

Reading online reviews is common across a wide range of demographic groups, but those under 50 are especially likely to incorporate them into their shopping experiences. 10

Because there are so many facets to leveraging customer reviews – from maintaining consistency and quality to giving timely responses – don’t leave your company’s reputation to chance.

For a quick snapshot of your online reviews and a reputation report, use our free online review scanning tool, and if you’re ready to get your online reviews under control, contact us.

Online Reviews and the New Buyer's Journey

Online Reviews and the New Buyer’s Journey

40,000 every second,

3.5 billion each day,

1.2 trillion per year.

According to Internet Live Stats, these figures reflect the number of online searches being processed by Google. For today’s business owner, the sheer number of search queries underpins the critical importance of a company’s online reputation because customers in search of product information begin online.

Most business owners know the concept of the buyer’s journey. Typically, it is thought of as a three-step process that includes awareness, consideration, and decision. But, what if the digital age has ushered in a new buyer’s journey–one with four steps. One step behaves as a gatekeeper to the final decision, and the traditional journey may never get to the last step because the buyer chooses not to go through the gate.  

In fact, online reviews might just be that gatekeeper. In an article by the Moz team, they found that four or more negative articles about a company or product appearing in Google search results could make a company lose 70% of potential customers. That’s a lot of customers.

The new buyer’s journey

The growth of the internet is propelling online search, and rich snippet review stars below the business name are the first item potential customers check when skimming the Search Engine Result Pages (SERP). Any business that displays three stars or less is often ignored.

Rich snippet stars in search engine results

In this new digital scenario, the buyer’s journey is a four-step process:

STEP ONE: Awareness – I have a problem.

It could be a minor issue–you’re thirsty–or a more serious one such as you are injured and need to see a doctor.

STEP TWO: Consideration – I think about options to solve my problem.

If you’re the thirsty person above, you might consider whether you should visit the neighborhood coffee shop, or do you swing by the local convenience store and pick up a cold drink on the go? Let’s say you choose the coffee route. You instinctively think about all kinds of parameters:

  • How much time do I have?
  • Is there a parking lot or do I need quarters for the meter?
  • Do I need cash or can I use my coffee shop loyalty card?
  • Do I really want to pay for a latte, or shall I just use my single serve coffee maker at home?
  • Where is the closest coffee shop?
  • Is the place popular? Do people like going there and will it be crowded?  

STEP THREE: Search – I do an online search and compare my options

You Google, “Where is the best coffee in [your town]?” A SERP gives you a list of alternatives even populating the top of the page with coffee shops that are geographically closest to you. You skim down the page, and your eye is drawn to the rich snippet stars.

You’ve arrived at the new gatekeeper in the buyer’s journey–online reviews. You filter out any businesses with three or fewer stars and never click the search result to learn more about the business or visit their website. They’re out.

STEP FOUR: Decision – I fix my problem.

You have time, a few dollars in your pocket and you want the fancy latte. You go out the door and visit the local coffee shop, which by the way, had 5-stars below their name in the search engine results. You never knew that the coffee place around the corner had a special on pumpkin spice lattes (your favorite) because they had 3-stars below their name, and you never clicked through to the website.

Four or more negative articles about a company or product appearing in Google search results could make a company lose 70% of potential customers. –Moz

Online reviews

In the digital age, the buyer’s journey looks different than the traditional model.

Online reviews can upend the buyer’s journey completely, and although some would argue that perusing online reviews could be lumped into the traditional Consideration phase, maybe they shouldn’t be. Why? Because checking online reviews is no longer an action people do occasionally. It has become a fundamental step in the buying process, and with just a glance, can dissuade potential customers from buying your product, service or even bothering to contact you.

How Online Reviews Can Upend the Buying Process

[Download the Infographic]

Reputation management is now a necessity

No matter the size of your organization, an online review management strategy is no longer nice-to-have, but a must-have. Reputation management technology can help, but at the very least and even if it’s a manual process, ensure that your management team monitors, responds to and actively engages with customers that are writing online reviews about your company.

Good reviews are “social proof” that your business is worth visiting, your product or service worth buying. Negative reviews end the buyer’s journey that should be bringing customers to your door.

negative review

If Your Business Gets a Negative Review, What Should You Do?

It’s bound to happen.

Unhappy customers in a mobile world are a tough combination for business. Dissatisfied patrons seem almost determined to post a negative review and even worse, review sites permit customers to upload pictures too. So, if your coffee house has an overflowing trash can or the floor needs sweeping, a customer can snap a photo and upload it to a review site for all to see. Negative reviews have become the digital version of calling someone out, and they can wreak havoc on your business.

On a 5-star rating scale, everything that is 3-stars, 2-stars or 1-star is within the realm of a negative review. Why? 3-stars mean the customer is not exactly endorsing your business, plus often there are no comments with a 3-star review. 3-stars certainly won’t compel anyone to visit your establishment; potential customers will continue searching the Internet for the 5-star one instead. With 2-stars and 1-star reviews, there is usually a comment alongside the rating, and more often than not, the commentary will painstakingly describe every aspect of the issue.

So, if your business gets a negative online review, what should you do?

1. Answer the negative customer review

No business wants an unfavorable review; but on the bright side, in giving your business a review, a customer is talking to you and telling you something. Customer conversations are always helpful, and if you take the time to address the issue, sometimes customers will even go back and amend the number of review stars as well as their comments. Acknowledge the bad experience the customer had and respond to the review promptly and politely suggesting something that may help if (s)he visits in future. For example, put in your response, “Please don’t ever hesitate to get the manager on duty involved because the quality of your experience is very important to us.”

Negative reviews are the digital version of calling someone out, and they can wreak havoc on your business.

2. Avoid putting your company name in the online review response

Online review comments can come up when customers search the Internet. An important rule of thumb is to keep your company name out of a response to negative online reviews. Instead of, “We are sorry you had a bad experience at Joe’s Coffee House,” say, “We are sorry you had a bad experience at our coffee house.” On the flip side, for positive reviews, do add your company name in the response as well as a positive aspect about your business.

3. Look for patterns in online customer feedback

It’s easy to brush off a negative review as the result of an unreasonable customer, but there are often patterns in reviews. If one of your locations consistently has complaints about the reception staff, for example, chances are you have a problem. Businesses mistakenly believe they will be able to leave positive reviews on the Internet, and they can hire a reputation management company to remove the negative ones from 3rd party sites. Not so. Customer reviews cannot be taken down just because they are negative, so it’s wise to look for patterns in the feedback and see if there is an ongoing issue that needs to be addressed in your business.  

4. Know your review sites

The top review sites are household names: Google My Business, Facebook, Amazon and Yelp. Less well known is the fact that you can have an unclaimed or unofficial page about your business collecting reviews, and no one in your business either set it up or is actively monitoring it. Many times we will ask a new reputation management client if they know where their reviews are and in one recent case, they told us, “Yes, of course, we have reviews on Yelp and Facebook!” A quick scan found they had multiple reviews on Google My Business as well.

In another recent example, a patron of one of our reputation management clients had a negative experience and posted a 1-star review on Facebook. He then proceeded to post the same negative review on YP (the online yellow pages) and Google My Business. The lesson is that your customers are pretty savvy, and your reputation management strategy must be too.

5. Use reputation management technology

You must proactively monitor and respond to your online customer reviews. Luckily, there are reputation management software solutions that provide dedicated portals, monitoring services and the ability to answer reviews directly from the portal. You can even use reputation management technology to stream positive reviews into a company website review page while filtering out negative reviews from the stream. This technology allows a business to leverage their positive reviews while actively addressing the negative ones.

Online Reviews: 10 Compelling Reasons to Manage Your Reputation

The Resourceful Business team recently put together an infographic: Online Reviews: 10 Compelling Reasons to Manage Your Reputation. Download the print version here. And if you’re ready to take control of your online reviews, we would love to help. Contact us to get started.  

online reviews have ripple effect

Online Reviews – Manage Or Be Managed

With some 115 million reviews on Yelp alone, there is no doubt that online reviews and the pursuit of “social proof” are here to stay. Yelp’s stated purpose, “To connect people with great local businesses,” is the foundation for its online portal which allows people to review and assign a star rating to a business to represent their user experience.

For bricks and mortar companies, the era of user-generated reviews means that owners are seeing their business reviews pop up all over the web. Yelp, Google, Facebook, YP (Yellow Pages) and Foursquare are just a few examples of sites that offer reviews. Online reviews are even being pushed to mapping applications such as MapQuest and Google Maps.

The reality is that if customers are trying to find you on the Internet, chances are they will stumble upon a review of your business. Negative reviews have a ripple effect dissuading new customers from visiting your store, buying your products or using your services. If you’re like many business owners, you don’t know where many of these reviews are, how to manage them, or if you should respond.

The growing role of online reputation management

Not surprisingly, online reputation management is a growing vertical in digital marketing. To safeguard your company’s reputation, it’s essential to proactively find, track and manage your company’s online reviews. Reputation management services typically:

  • Utilize software to locate your online reviews on 3rd party sites
  • Offer a review option on your website to actively collect your own reviews
  • Funnel 3rd party reviews into a portal for easier management and faster response times
  • Filter and then render positive 3rd party reviews on your company’s website
  • Redirect negative reviews collected on your website to your management team via email

Establishing a reputation management process takes time and organization. It’s a marathon, not a race. Here are three reasons it’s worth the effort:

1. Online reviews do not require your approval

Whether it’s an unofficial Facebook page or unclaimed Yelp listing, review sites are collecting reviews on your business whether you choose to monitor them or not. Unofficial or unclaimed pages are “unmanaged” as they were not set up by the business in the first place and come about because someone checks-in or reviews the business. These portals don’t require your approval to generate review pages about your business, and they are visible to your customers. As important, negative reviews need to be answered, and you can’t respond to a review if you don’t know it’s out there.

I will share an example. Our agency has a client with 9 bricks and mortar locations. When we undertook a recent reputation management audit for them, we found:

  • 9 unofficial Facebook pages with reviews
  • 9 unclaimed Yelp pages, 5 with reviews
  • 9 Google My Business pages with reviews
  • 9 listings on YP, no reviews
  • 6 listings on Judy’s Book, no reviews
  • 1 listing on Citysearch, no reviews
  • 1 listing on Foursquare, no reviews

In total, we found almost 120 online reviews on the Internet that corresponded to the 9 locations. In essence, there was a growing body of reviews on the web for this company, and they were unaware of many of them. Listings on Yellow Pages and online directories count too, because they are available for future reviews, and therefore, need to be monitored.


Establishing a reputation management process takes time

and organization. It’s a marathon, not a race.


2. Positive online reviews boost the credibility of your business

When you do a search in Google, sometimes you will see gold stars, or rich snippet reviews, under a website address. Here is a snapshot of some rich snippet reviews for the Fairmont San Francisco hotel associated with their listings on, Yelp, and Under each of the website names, you will see gold stars that represent the average star rating for the reviews on that particular site.  

rich snippet stars

The rich snippet stars validate that Google is crediting Fairmont San Francisco with reviews collected on these 3rd party websites. Knowing that any business can essentially write and post reviews on their own website, rich snippet reviews continue to grow in importance. Positive reviews in the form of 4 and 5 stars increase click-through rates and boost business credibility and foot traffic. Think about it. When’s the last time you clicked on a search result for a business with a one or two star rating?

digital footprint from online reviews

3. Online reviews are an integral part of your brand reputation

No longer just word of mouth or direct referrals, online reviews now play a prominent role in your brand reputation. In BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey 2016, two facts, in particular, confirm the importance of online reviews:

  • 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
  • 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more

These statistics attest to both the power of online reviews as well as their increasing role in an organization’s reputation. They are an integral part of a company’s digital footprint and directly influence how people perceive the brand.

No doubt the continuing growth of the Internet means that online reputation management is here to stay. Much like the ripples from a raindrop that hits the surface of a pond, reviews continuously widen your audience reach and spread important information that potential customers seek. When it comes to your online reputation, it’s a case of manage or be managed.


Do you know what people are saying about your business online? Use our free review scan and get an instant reputation report, and if you would like to explore a reputation management program for your business, contact us.