Marketing Mythbusters: Responding to Reviews Won’t Affect Your Online Reputation

 

A common myth that we hear in the localized marketing world is that your multi-location business doesn’t need to respond to reviews it receives online. A similar myth is that responding to reviews for your multi-location will not improve your business’s online reputation. SOCi is here to bust these myths! Throughout this blog, we will explain how your business’s review response strategy can impact your localized marketing efforts, and ultimately sales. 

 

Importance of Responding to Online Reviews

 

Ninety-five percent of consumers say that online reviews influence their buying decisions. If your multi-location business does not have a good volume and recency of reviews online, you’re doing your business a disservice. According to data found in our Q3 2020 State of Localized Marketing Report, consumers post almost double the amount of reviews on Google My Business (GMB) vs. Facebook. This number was even higher in previous quarters, but GMB paused reviews in the early stages of the pandemic, which explains why the numbers aren’t quite as high. If your business does not have local GMB pages set up, it’s time to change that. 

 

Eighty-four percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, which is why a strong reputation marketing strategy is essential. It will help your multi-location business develop trust with your prospective customers. As you earn more reviews for your multi-location business and consistently reply to them, prospective customers will see why they should choose your business over the competition, resulting in more people trusting your business and ultimately leading to more sales. 

 

As mentioned, responding to reviews is an important aspect of building consumer trust, but it can help in other ways as well. For instance, 87 percent of consumers express a willingness to change a negative review, depending on how the business responds. Also, 52 percent of consumers ages 18-54 “always” read reviews when searching for local companies. If your business can maintain a higher star rating by responding to reviews, why wouldn’t you? 

 

Now you may be asking yourself, how many reviews should I be responding to, and how quickly? The short answer is, you should respond to all of the reviews your multi-location business receives as soon as possible. We understand that this might not be feasible for all businesses. If you have to choose which reviews your business is responding to, negative reviews should come first. If you address why the consumer left the negative review, you will make them feel heard, and as mentioned previously, increase your chances that they will change their negative review. Your responses should be personalized and authentic. 

 

You should also take into consideration what perception it will give your consumers when responding to reviews. By responding to reviews, your multi-location business will be able to:

  • Let the world know you care about every customer, not just the ones who complain.
  • Increase the lifetime value of your customers.
  • Protect your business reputation with trust and transparency.
  • Improve your local SEO and become more visible to customers.

 

Now that you are aware of why responding to reviews is so important let’s look at how reviews can impact your online reputation. 

 

How Reviews Can Impact Your Online Reputation 

 

Having a good reputation is crucial to getting people to trust and engage with your business, and ultimately make a purchase. One of the biggest influences on consumers’ decision-making is reviews. Almost sixty percent of consumers look at online reviews every week. And, as we mentioned previously, 95 percent say that they directly influence their buying decisions. Consumers want to hear about experiences from other consumers. And it’s not just about the star-rating your business gets on review sites, although your star rating is important. When making purchasing decisions, consumers will dig deeper and research the online sentiment surrounding your business.

 

While you may be the most concerned that a low star-rating will hurt your multi-location business’s reputation, no reviews at all could prove to be even more harmful. For instance, negative reviews still provide authenticity and volume of reviews is a key factor in ranking on Google. While a few negative reviews won’t hurt, data from our Q3 2020 State of Localized Marketing Report found that the average star-rating for multi-location businesses in Q2 was 3.97 stars across Facebook, Yelp, and GMB. This number decreased from previous quarters due to the pandemic, but typically keeping your star-rating above four stars is vital. Data indicates that only 53 percent of consumers consider purchasing from a business with less than four stars. If your business has a star rating that is less than four stars or your business lacks ratings and reviews in general, don’t worry! Next, we’ll look at how your multi-location business can build a robust review response strategy for your localized marketing efforts. 

 

Building a Review Response Strategy 

 

While many multi-location businesses likely already have a review response strategy, there is always room for improvement. Is your multi-location business currently meeting the industry standards when it comes to responding to reviews and response times? 

 

  • Average review response time across GMB, Facebook, and Yelp is 3.6 days. 
  • Average response rate is 49 percent with the ultimate goal to respond to 100 percent of the reviews.

 

How should your response strategy change for negative reviews?

  • While you should always respond to reviews in a timely manner, responding to negative reviews should be a top priority. 
  • Include a personalized response, and offer to fix the issue the customer is writing about 
  • Apologize for the customer’s experience, and work to ensure that experience won’t happen again 
  • Utilize reputation management software to make your marketing team aware of negative reviews as you receive them, and help you maintain and overall positive online reputation

 

What are some general tips for scaling review responses? 

  • Setup multi-location workflows to ensure proper notification systems and approval processes are in place. 
  • Create a list of common reviews and review responses for local teams to pull from.
  • Stay away from cookie cutter responses. Responding to reviews helps consumers feel heard, so don’t downplay the engagement with the same review responses.

 

While it might seem daunting to keep track of all of the reviews your multi-location business receives across each location, SOCi is here to help! Through our reputation and reviews software, your multi-location business can monitor every review platform in one centralized dashboard. SOCi pulls every review for all your business locations into one centralized platform — accessible by both corporate and local teams. It gives local marketing teams the power to respond to reviews, and your corporate team can maintain oversight through the creation of approval workflows.

 

Reviews Platform Overlays

 

The myth is busted. You now know that your multi-location business should be responding to reviews to maintain a strong online reputation. For more information on how SOCi can build your online reputation and improve your localized marketing strategy, request a demo today! 

 

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