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Attention Business Owners: Do You Monitor Online Review Sites & Social Communities?

December 13, 2012

Spending time on the internet is simply part of our daily lives now. For some us it’s our job, for others it’s an important business medium and for many it’s part of our social lives. For NZ business owners with a website presence it’s a significant source, if not sole source, of revenue generation.

With the growth of online consumer review sites and social media communities, the power and ease for consumers to share their opinions about your products and services is just a mouse click or smartphone tap away.  Whispering in someone's ear photo

Comparison shopping is a lot easier. According to New Media TrendWatch, the percentage of the NZ population online in 2011 was 84.5%. Additionally, there has been significant growth in NZ Smartphone ownership - up from 13% in 2011 to approximately 44% in 2012 - as reported by The National Business Review.  

Why Should Business Owners Care about Online Review Sites & Social Media Communities?

  • Consumer reviews influence and assist with the purchase decision making process. Positive user reviews can earn you more customers and revenue. Tip: If you have an ecommerce site then make sure you have the functionality for users to leave product reviews directly on your site at the product level.
  • The number of user reviews is an important factor considered by many local search engines (think Google Local Search) and review sites. They help to determine which sites they include in their results and which sites get more prominence.
  • Positive online reviews enhance the trustworthiness and credibility of your business.
  • Social networking in NZ is one of the top online activities. NewMedia TrendWatch estimates that every one of five minutes spent online is dedicated to social networking sites. It is very easy for us to ask our peers via social media for advice and recommendations on that latest iPod to buy or where the best luxury lodges in Nelson are to stay. Using my accommodation example, a friend might drop me a link to a luxury lodge’s reviews on TripAdvisor to check out. The opinions of our friends, family and work colleagues can have a major impact on our decision making processes given the trust and assurance qualities they embody. 
  • If your business doesn’t have a social media presence yet, consider the many benefits of doing so, which include being able to engage and participate with consumers directly via these mediums. Check out SocialMediaToday’s Alex Hisaka’s post about the benefits of social media for businesses.
  • User reviews provide a valuable opportunity to monitor your online reputation and improve your products and services. Don’t be afraid of negative reviews; view them as an opportunity to improve your services. Read Search Engine Lands’ Andrew Shotland’s blog on how to response to negative customer reviews online.
  • We know that consumers comparison shop, so give them a reason to buy from your business with the presence of positive reviews. Many consumers will conduct their research online and then make an in-store purchase – something to consider if you have both an online and offline store.
  • Business size isn’t a barrier on the internet. If you are a small online business owner, harness the power of a great online reputation when acquiring new customers.  

Where Can You Find Online Review Sites?
Dependant on your businesses industry, there are generally review sites of some kind available to consumers. Where you can, it is worth creating a profile and/or monitoring and engaging with users who are talking about your products and services, at these online review sites and social media communities. 

I have outlined a few online NZ review sites below, covering a few popular industries for you to check out:

Travel Industry Reviews

Hospitality Businesses 

Electronic Products

Another area of growing importance, as mentioned above, is Google Local Search and Google+ Local listings which display the number of user reviews your listing has. Having more reviews associated with your listing is also a powerful incentive for user’s to click and find out more. Take my Google Search example below for ‘Auckland Hotels’ - which hotels would you want to check out first?

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How Do You Get Reviews?
While many consumers will leave reviews on their own accord, it can be hard acquiring reviews. There are various ways in which you can encourage users to leave reviews at your review sites including, but not limited to:

  • At the check-out process
  • A follow up phone call
  • In a thank you email
  • Using your social media profiles 

To Sum Up
Getting, monitoring and/or replying to online user reviews can be a time consuming process. However, it is also a highly valuable process which can mean a sizable difference to your bottom line and online reputation. Sometimes the review sites you check out may not be about your specific business but about the products you stock, providing helpful consumer feedback. Just remember, online review sites and social media communities aren’t going anywhere! Can you afford to ignore them?

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Filed under Digital Marketing

Written by

Tess is one of our Digital Marketers and has been with us since February 2012. Being Google AdWords qualified, Tess enjoys managing client AdWords campaigns as well as carrying out on-page optimisation techniques to ensure that client websites can perform at their peak in the search engines.

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