In an increasingly interconnected world, a business’ online presence has never been more important. Your star-rating on Google or Facebook can have a real and deciding influence on consumers at a critical point in the purchase decision-making process. Sure, I might not be telling you anything you don’t already know, but don’t switch to YouTube just yet! While the weight that reviews and online ratings carry has long been touted as having a huge influence on a business’ performance in organic search results, and potential to translate into actual warm bodies in showrooms, what’s less intuitive is the finding that business review-response rates also improve paid-search performance. Plainly put, businesses that responded more often to reviews – lets call it reputation sanitation – saw higher conversion rates.
Digital marketing agency Location3 has done a deep dive into the nature of this correlation. A recent study using data from campaigns for national brands with local brick-and-mortar locations (and which counted form completions, email inquiries and “more information” requests as conversions), found that businesses overall performance coincided with the quality of their overall rating; plainly put as stars increased, so did conversions. Location3 resolved that, if the lower-rated stores within a national brand could post conversion statistics at levels comparable to the top-performing locations after a bit of reputation sanitation, it could equate to an additional 13,000 leads.
Still unimpressed? Get past your crippling fixation on conversions then and consider what healthy reviews can do for paid search. Turns out, there’s a lot more value in responding to reviews (the good, the bad, and the downright ugly) than was previously thought to be the case. No longer is the maintenance of your online presence simple reputation sanitation. The same Location3 study revealed that business with the highest review-response rate (8.13 per-cent) saw an average conversion rate of 13.86 per-cent, while businesses with the lowest response rate (5.73 per-cent) posted a conversion rate of only 10.42 per-cent. Location3’s report concludes that when “engaging with customer reviews a business owner has a positive correlation with improved conversion rates for paid search advertising.”
Case-in-point, reviews are important for a variety of reasons. Yes, they impact local search engine rankings, but they’ve now also been shown to have a significant effect on consumer buying behavior. Be considerate of how of promptly your responding to them, and make sure that those responses are tailored to the review that they’re responding to. Be smart. Responding to reviews in a timely, comprehensive and professional fashion is easy, so just do it. No need to hire a janitor — you can handle the reputation sanitation.