Online Reviews: Consumers Control the New Age of Marketing

If you’ve ever bought anything online, and you probably have, you’ve encountered online reviews. Whether you’ve trusted an aggregated star rating for a new restaurant you’ve had your eye on or a poorly-spelled rant on Yelp, the fact is that reviews are an important part of our modern-day consumer culture. Millions of people use review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google+ to leave reviews, and influence others.

Can reviews make or break a sale? Possibly. According to a survey by BrightLocal, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. The same study also found that 72% of consumers say that positive reviews improve the trustworthiness of a local business.

One of the Best Ways to Attract New Clients

People seek reviews for more information before spending money. Thus, if customers find good reviews for your brand on sites they trust, they’re more likely to convert.

Enabling customer reviews on your site can have a really positive effect on your organic search rankings on popular search engines like Google. Each review increases the amount of unique content on your site and on that product, allowing your page to rank higher.

Additionally, you can micro-format the reviews on your site so that Google can properly index them and use them as “rich answers” during user search results. This means that whenever someone searches for your business, reviews are usually at the top of the search results pages. Since most people never browse past the first page of results, reviews are what they tend to click on the most.

But, What if the Reviews are Bad?

Positive reviews can bring customers to your business ready and willing to buy, but what happens if there are negative reviews? Negative reviews can take a successful business and lead it to destruction.

According to a study by, businesses are at risk of losing 22% of consumers who would have bought from them when they have one negative article about their product online. If there are three or more negative review articles, the chance of losing customers jumps to 59.2%. Four or more negative reviews can turn as much as 70% of customers away.

It’s always best to provide your clients with the best service, and prevent bad experiences to reduce the risk of a bad review. However, if a bad review is written, you should first try to take care of the problem where it happened. For example, Yelp allows business owners to respond to reviews. Always acknowledge the comment and offer to fix whatever the problem is in much of the same way you would in person. Consumers will see how attentive you are to the reviewer’s complaints, and may give you a chance anyway.

But it can’t all be good. While negative reviews are never good, too many positive reviews can be suspicious. A product or brand only 5 star reviews could make users feel that many of those were written by the owners themselves. A good mix of positive and negative reviews, skewed more towards the positive could be good for conversion rates and increased sales.

The New Order

The rise of reviews makes one thing clear: you’re no longer the sole author of your brand’s image. In fact, you’re now co-creating your brand with customers through review sites and social networks. No amount of ad dollars can make up for a bad customer experience that reaches the masses through the web. You can spend millions on the perfect ad strategy, only to be derailed by poor ratings on review sites. That’s our new reality, and brands must adapt.

Online reputation management (ORM) is helping companies closely monitor what’s being said online so that they can respond promptly and effectively. With ORM, you can put the voice of the client to work for your brand and address concerns or make improvements that actually improve consumer opinions and online ratings.

Used strategically, ORM can help you influence customer opinions about your brand and let you take charge of the conversation. Allowing online reviews to go unmonitored, unchecked and unanswered is no longer an option. ORM enables brands to leverage bad reviews for a better understanding of the customer experience and solve issues that could otherwise lead to more negative reviews.

Do you need help managing your brand’s online reputation? Media Genesis can help! We provide business consulting for strategic branding and development. Reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter or give us a call at 248-687-7888 for more information.