As multi-location marketers, you hear that ratings and reviews are a crucial component of a successful localized marketing strategy, but have you ever looked at the return on investment (ROI) of that tactic? In order for your ratings and reviews strategy to be successful, a strong ROI is a must. Within this post, we’ll take you through the benefits of ratings and reviews and highlight how it will affect your multi-location business’s ROI. At the end of this blog, you’ll have what it takes to build a winning ratings and reviews strategy that will take your localized marketing efforts to the next level.
The Value of Positive Reviews
Although it seems pretty intuitive, the value of positive reviews shouldn’t be overlooked. According to our 2020 Localized Marketing Benchmark Report, reviews are the number one factor consumers consider when making a purchasing decision. In other words, if your business has positive reviews, you should ultimately have more sales.
You may be wondering what is considered an excellent overall star rating and how your business compares to others in the industry. Data from our Q3 2020 State of Multi-Location Marketing Report found that in Q2, the average star rating by the top rating & review networks is 4 stars. This number dropped slightly, likely due to changes caused by COVID-19 that were out of the business’s control. If your multi-location business isn’t meeting the average star-rating across your business locations, you could be missing out on sales.
While positive reviews can help boost your sales, they can also make your multi-location business more visible, and make you appear more trustworthy. Your brand can build great trust from positive reviews. The way customers are talking about you is just, if not more important as the fact that they’re saying your name. If you want to broaden the conversation around your business and boost your ROI, positive reviews are a must.
The Risk of Negative Reviews
While we all know that positive reviews can help boost your multi-location business’s ROI, what is the risk of negative reviews? While negative reviews are never ideal, they are something every multi-location business has to deal with. A few negative reviews mixed in with other positive reviews is preferable to having no reviews at all. As mentioned above, reviews play a huge role in purchasing decisions, so if your business doesn’t have many reviews, a consumer may pass up your business. While there should be a focus on the volume of reviews, you must also maintain a high star rating. After all, only 53 percent of people would consider using a business with less than 4 stars. So while consumers expect businesses to have a few negative reviews, if you have too many negative reviews and it impacts your star rating, you risk losing sales to your competitors.
When it comes to managing negative reviews, there is a lot your multi-location business can do. Responding to negative reviews is essential. Ninety-seven percent of consumers say they pay attention to the responses business owners write. And 87 percent of consumers express a willingness to change a negative review, depending on how they respond. If you take the time to respond to a negative review and make the consumer feel heard, they may change their review or take it down altogether. Overall, one-off negative reviews likely won’t impact your business’s ROI negatively, however, an unsatisfactory star-rating will lead to loss in leads and revenue. For more information on how to handle negative reviews, check out our blog on the topic.
Consequences of Slow Response Times
When it comes to responding to reviews, some consequences come along with slow response times. In an ideal situation, your multi-location business would respond to every review it receives. While we understand that this may be difficult, it’s crucial to at least be meeting the industry standards when it comes to responding to reviews, and how quickly you respond to them.
Data from our previously mentioned Q3 2020 State of Multi-Location Marketing Report found that, on average, multi-location businesses respond to around 50 percent of the reviews they receive on Yelp, Facebook, and Google My Business (GMB).. At a minimum, your business should be responding to half of the reviews you receive, with the ultimate goal of reaching 100 percent.
When looking at response time, the quarterly average in Q2 2020 was 6.4 days. Again, this number is higher than usual due to Google’s restrictions on responding to reviews. In Q1 2020, the average review response time was 3.6 days, which is a better average for your business to meet. If you have slower response times to your ratings and reviews, you could be hurting your multi-location business’s ROI. Among consumers that read reviews, 97 percent read business’ responses to reviews. When you take the time to respond to online reviews, you have the potential to turn a detractor into a promoter for your multi-location business. By responding to reviews as quickly as possible, you will prove to your consumers that they are your top priority and that you genuinely care about fixing their issue. If you’re working to increase your ROI through ratings and reviews, responding to reviews promptly is necessary.
Impact on Local Search Rankings and Visibility
Another critical thing to consider when evaluating the ROI of your ratings and reviews is the impact they have on your local search rankings and overall visibility. 84 percent of consumers conduct a local search at least once a week. If your business has a strong base of local ratings and reviews, you will appear more frequently in local search results, increasing your overall visibility and boosting your ROI.
Google uses a set of factors in its algorithm to rank search results. Ratings and reviews make up six out of the eight top local search ranking factors. If your business is not optimizing your ratings and reviews strategy to include the elements listed below, you are missing out appearing in local search results.
While it’s not listed in the image above, the speed at which your multi-location business responds to reviews is important to consider in terms of search rankings and visibility as well.
Best Practices for Building a Strong Rating and Reviews Strategy
Now that you understand the importance of ratings and reviews when it comes to a return on investment, it’s time for your multi-location business to start building out a substantial rating and reviews strategy.
Here are some things to consider:
- Responding to all reviews is important, however, responding to negative reviews is a must!
- Make sure to personalize your review responses. Consumers read businesses’ responses, and personalization is key to showing empathy.
- Find creative ways to market for reviews without soliciting for them.
- For instance, you can include links to your review sites on your website, include a CTA to leave a review on receipts, or highlight customer testimonials and encourage others to leave reviews as well.
- Respond to your reviews in a timely manner – ideally within 24 hours, however, industry benchmarks dictate at least 3 days.
- Analyze what consumers are saying in their reviews, and adjust your business model accordingly.
If your multi-location business needs help managing your ratings and reviews strategy across business locations, SOCi is here to help! SOCi’s Reviews solution pulls every review for all your business locations into one centralized platform — accessible by both corporate and local teams.
Give local marketing teams the power to respond to reviews, and your corporate team can maintain oversight through the creation of approval workflows. Implementing review response workflows for multi-location businesses ensures brand-appropriate and prompt responses. Local teams can receive notifications for new reviews, draft responses, and get corporate response approval – all with one tool. You can also monitor sentiment and competition analysis and leverage smart rules and alerts to prioritize reviews requiring your immediate attention. For more information on how SOCi can help improve the ROI of your ratings and reviews, and boost your localized marketing ROI overall, request a demo today!