Word of mouth has always been one of the most powerful marketing tools for businesses, but in today’s digital age, it holds even greater influence. For local businesses, in particular, focusing on gathering reviews and sharing positive customer feedback should be a top priority when it comes to boosting your reach and attracting more customers.
Research suggests that over 99% of consumers read online reviews before shopping online. Online reviews on sites like Google, Yelp and social media have rapidly become the digital version of old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing. They hold tremendous sway in terms of building trust, providing social proof of your business’s quality, and convincing potential customers to give you a try.
Build trust and social proof
Reviews give potential customers confidence that your business provides a high-quality product or service. When existing customers voluntarily share praise and highlight their positive experiences, it establishes credibility for your brand and offering.
Even a few reviews praising aspects like customer service, responsiveness or the quality of a business’ products can give hesitant prospective customers the push they need to give your business a try. An example of one business using this strategy is Panificio Italiano, who have a dedicated page on their website to showcase awards and achievements to encourage new customers to try their artisanal products for themselves.
Well-known brands have an advantage in consumer familiarity and trust. But positive reviews allow smaller, lesser-known local businesses to close the trust gap. Seeing a list of 4- and 5-star reviews will do more to convince a sceptical prospect than almost any other information you could present.
Enhanced SEO options
Reviews also provide concrete search engine optimisation (SEO) benefits for your digital marketing strategy that expands your business’s visibility and reach. Review volume, relevancy and overall star rating are all optimisation factors search engines like Google take into account when determining local search rankings.
Not only do reviews build trust to convert more prospects who find your listings, but they also help more prospects find your business in the first place thanks to better local SEO performance. It produces a positive feedback loop where more reviews facilitate more discovery via search engines, which then leads to even more reviews, and so on.
Positive reviews can be a huge boost for any business. When someone writes something nice about your company, products or services, it’s like free advertising that reaches many more people than you could on your own. Just one glowing review shared on social media or sent out in an email newsletter has the potential to be seen by hundreds or thousands of prospective new customers.
Unlike old-fashioned word of mouth that spreads from person to person, online reviews spread your reputation far and wide, even on a global scale. The reach is practically endless, which gives online reviews the power to broadcast your brand to a much wider audience than traditional marketing alone.
Strategies to gather reviews
So, having explored the benefits of reviews, how can businesses achieve them? One of the most effective ways to get more positive reviews is simply to ask satisfied customers directly. Ideally, companies should have a system in place to prompt clients to leave reviews immediately following a positive interaction or purchase – waiting weeks or months reduces the likelihood of getting feedback.
Following up again with a review reminder is also wise. Brands can offer small incentives like discounts on future purchases in exchange for reviews, but it’s important to communicate that you welcome honest feedback, not just positive testimonials.
Making the review process quick and seamless by sending direct review links or QR codes helps, as any extra steps can cause drop-off. Patience and persistence are key, as a single request may not generate reviews. But nurturing long-term relationships and providing consistent outstanding service lays the groundwork for getting ongoing reviews that all local businesses need.
You can also leverage customer interactions on social media as review opportunities or with ‘Refer A Friend’ pages like online estate agents. These options invite people to get in touch and recommend your services to prospective customers. If a customer tags your brand, shares a photo or leaves a positive comment about your business on social platforms like Facebook or Instagram, politely respond and ask if they’d be willing to leave a review reflecting their experience or ask if you can use their comment on your website. Social media provides a natural opening to request reviews from engaged customers who are already voicing their satisfaction, turning social engagement into valuable review generation.
Online reviews are the new word-of-mouth—with even greater influence and reach. For any local business looking to grow, having an excellent online reputation and maximising positive customer testimonials needs to be a top priority. The rewards that robust five-star review volumes deliver in the form of new business and enhanced community awareness make it a marketing cornerstone that no local business can afford to ignore.