How Online Reviews Can Make (Or Break) Your Business

May 2, 2015

Online ReviewsDoes your customer’s opinion matter? In the world of online marketing, the answer is a resounding YES! Research by Harvard Professor Michael Luca shows that positive Yelp reviews can impact a restaurant’s bottom line by as much as nine percent. And a 2013 report by Dimensional Research shows that over 60 percent of survey participants found online reviews helpful in their buying decisions. Of those who utilize online reviews, a staggering 90 percent said that positive reviews impacted their buying decisions. A 2014 survey of 300 small business owners by the Internet marketing firm Yodle, finds that 50 percent of small business owners think that online reviews are unimportant to their business. However, the report shows that 52 percent of business owners do think reviews from websites that are specific to their industry are important. The chart below shows which websites the respondents care most about getting positive reviews on. Popular Online Review Websites


Sometimes there is a disconnect between what customer’s pay attention to and what business owners and marketing managers think is important. The savvy business owners and marketing managers are the ones that pay attention to what people are writing in their online reviews and manage them correctly. One way to do this is to manage reviews honestly and transparently. Don’t freak out if you end up with a negative review. If your website has only received positive reviews, then sometimes potential customers may not believe what they are reading. When you have a healthy mix of positive and negative reviews it can be viewed as being more realistic. Of course, don’t get me wrong. The key is to have many more positive reviews than negative reviews. Since reviews are so essential in making or breaking your business, here are some tips to help you get the most from them, no matter where you find people talking about you online.



  1. Don’t take the reviews personally. Whether the review is positive or negative, you need to remember that it isn’t about you – even though you may consider your business to be your baby. The review is about an experience with a product or service someone received at your place of business. By remembering to not take the review personally, you can keep your emotions in check and deal with the reviewer appropriately. For negative reviews, the last thing you want to do is get into a mudslinging contest with the reviewer, so be polite and factual in your responses.
  2. Own the reviews. If you get a valid negative review, own it. Transparency is a valued commodity in the online world so business owners who can admit mistakes are valuable. For honest mistakes, post the steps taken to remedy the situation and thank the reviewer for helping you fix a problem. This gives you credibility and gives confidence to future customers that if there are issues, they will be taken care of.
  3. Monitor the web for mentions. If you don’t have the time or the resources to monitor all of the social networks on a regular basis, Google has provided a great tool called Google Alerts that will do the majority of the work for you. Google Alerts allows you to enter in terms to “listen for,” then sends you an alert via email any time a reference to that term pops up. You can set up your alerts to happen whenever a mention of your business name is found or as a daily alert.

Managing the reputation of your business is very important in today’s online economy. A good review can bring in new customers, while unchecked negative reviews can threaten to shut your doors. There are thousands of online conversations happening each day and there is a good chance you are being talked about somewhere. As a business owner or marketing manager it is in your best interest to listen, monitor and participate in the discussion. To learn more about other strategies that will impact your bottom line besides online reviews, check out our whitepaper “the 8 Critical Ingredients of a Digital Marketing Plan.” It’s free to download and full of tips and strategies to help your digital marketing strategies get moving in the right direction.

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