Hundreds, if not thousands, of people go online every month searching for a local business to spend money with. Whether it’s an acupuncturist from Anchorage, Alaska to a Yoga Instructor in Yakima, Washington, people search for a business they can trust.
With the multitude of businesses to select from, how do you choose? People are looking for the most reputable company to do business with. This is where reputation marketing comes in.
Would you buy a product or service that has bad ratings or reviews? The answer is obvious. Now, let’s say you are looking at two companies. One has ten good reviews and the other has none. Which do you select now? A study done by Neilson in 2012 suggests that 70% of consumers trust online reviews (this represented a 15% increase over the prior four years), second only to personal recommendations.
This gives credibility to the social proof theory, highlighted as one of the Six Principals of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. Consumers want to see what others are saying. Social proof is so highly valued by Google that it displays on the first page whenever you search for a company name. The total number of Google reviews for each company is shown. Google has given each company a reputation score based upon a five star rating; however, if a company does not have at least five reviews, no score is given.
Having a five-star reputation should be the first step for any company doing marketing online. Why spend any money doing search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click (PPC), or any other form of local marketing if you have bad reviews or a bad reputation online?
Now let’s say you’re a company that has no reviews at all. That’s better than having a bad reputation, correct? Probably not, because if your competition has a good reputation online, your phone is still not going to ring. Brightlocal did a study, which showed that 70% of consumers trust a business with a minimum of six to ten reviews.
In addition to Google, there are an increasing number of other review sites, like Yelp, that have gained credibility and influence over consumer purchasing decisions. A Harvard Business School study found that a one star increase in Yelp rating led to a 5-7% increase in restaurant revenue. While the restaurant business appear to be most impacted by online reviews, experts predict that doctors, contractors, accountants and virtually all other local businesses will need to be concerned about their online reputation or suffer the consequences.
Reputation marketing and building a good reputation online are critically important, but it just represents the foundation. Reputation marketing when coupled with other offline and online marketing strategies can yield huge returns. To find out your online reputation score, here is a great place to start.