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Published September 4th 2020

Why Online Reviews Are Important For Every Business

BrightLocal's Stephanie Newton on how every business can benefit from online reviews, from generating and monitoring them to analyzing and improving them.

Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar business hoping to climb the rankings in local search or a multinational corporation wanting to build consumer trust and convert leads, online reviews are a great place to start.

In this article, I’ll:

  • Explain the value that online reviews can provide to businesses
  • Provide you with actionable tips to generate more reviews
  • Take a look at the importance of analyzing reviews with a view to improving them

The value of online reviews

If you weren’t already aware of their value, let me provide some context as to why reviews really are important for every business.

Online reviews:

  • Increase visibility in SERPs
  • Help to build consumer trust
  • Can encourage customers to convert
  • Can provide a huge competitive advantage

It’s not just me that thinks so. The statistics speak for themselves:

Online reviews can be the make-or-break factor between a customer choosing you or your competitor.

Not only do online reviews give consumers insight into the pros and cons of the products and/or services your business is offering (as well as those of your competitors), but they can be a great way to convert potential customers. This is especially true of reviews on your Google My Business profile – from there, satisfied searchers can quickly and easily go straight to your website, get directions, or give you a call. Meanwhile, reviews on product pages (like those on Amazon) sit very close to purchase buttons. If those reviews aren’t good, your hopes of converting on that page will suffer.

Generating reviews: Why more reviews are better, and how to get them

When it comes to reviews, the more the better.

While consumers will read multiple reviews before trusting a brand, timing is also crucial. Almost half of consumers will only pay attention to reviews left within the last two weeks.

With this in mind, how can you go about increasing your number of online reviews?

Firstly, you’ll need to identify where you want to build reviews. For many local businesses, the best place to build a review presence will be on Google My Business. But reviews aren’t one-size-fits-all. You’re going to want to take a look at where your customers are already searching for you. If you’re an eCommerce business, you might want to build a profile on Trustpilot. Meanwhile, those in hospitality might look to TripAdvisor, and businesses targeting Millennials might want to focus on getting Facebook recommendations.

There are a few ways to determine where to start generating reviews:

Look for where your audience finds you:

  • The simplest way to do this is by performing a Google search for your brand name. Which review and directory sites show up when you do this?
  • Look for where your competitors are getting found: Similarly, you can perform a Google search for your competitors’ brand names, or use a more sophisticated tool to find where they’re getting reviews from.
  • Look for where your reviews are lacking: Have you got dozens of reviews on Google, all coming through regularly and organically? That’s great! But great performance in one place doesn’t mean you’re excelling across the web – you might want to shift your efforts to a site getting a little less love.

Regardless of where you choose to build reviews, your methods will be much the same.

Request reviews with email

A firm favorite for a reason, performing review outreach via email is one of the simplest ways to get more reviews online.

Whether you’re requesting reviews using a reputation management tool or doing it the old-fashioned way, you’ll want to begin with a personalized review request template, thanking the customer for their time and custom before asking them to leave a review.

Something like the below should do the job:

“Hi [Customer’s First Name],

We hope you enjoyed visiting us at [Your Business Name] recently.

We love to hear from your customers, and would really appreciate it if you could take a moment to let us know what you thought of your experience by clicking the link below.

[Link to review site of your choice]

We’re always striving to provide value to our customers, and knowing how we’re performing helps us to continue to improve.

Many thanks,

[Your Name]”

You can of course adapt this template based on your target audience (after all, no one knows your audience better than you) but, generally speaking, you’ll want to thank the customer and show them how their feedback can help.

Request reviews with SMS

Just like email, requesting reviews via text message is a great way to perform review outreach.

Although you will need a bulk SMS platform or reputation management tool to benefit from this method, it can be extremely worthwhile for those hoping to reach their customers in a place they’ll find convenient. Or, if you’re in a business that naturally communicates via SMS anyway, this is a great option.

Once you’ve settled on an SMS platform of your choice, all that’s left to do is obtain your customers’ consent to collect their phone numbers and to contact them, and draft up a request template less than 160 characters long. (That’s the limit for texts!)

Request reviews in person

Finally, if you operate in a brick-and-mortar store, you can always take things back to basics and request reviews in person.

Include Bitly links to the review site of your choice on printed materials such as receipts, business cards, or even specially made review handouts. You want to make the process as easy as possible for your customer.

You can also take advantage of Google’s free marketing kit to encourage customers to leave reviews while in-store.

Analyzing reviews: What to do once you’ve got them

Once you’ve worked on building an impressive online review profile, you might wonder, “what’s next?”

Well, there are plenty of things you can do with online reviews. As well as showcasing reviews on your website, you can analyze them (going beyond star rating) to take your business to the next level.

Reviews can be a great source of insight for product development. By analyzing the most common complaints about products in reviews, tweaks can be made that will make for happier customers and better future reviews.

You could even identify emerging competitors that are starting to appear in your reviews as customers compare your products and services.


However you choose to generate online reviews – whether through email, SMS, or in person – they’re a vital aspect for any type of business hoping to get found online, build trust with consumers, and convert prospects.

Once you’ve built up a firm online review presence, you can use your newfound reputation to showcase your great products or services and to analyze them to better your business. This process of generating, analyzing, and improving reviews can become a positive cycle that continues to build star ratings.

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