Online reviews drive sales and build brand reputation
By Emma Fitzpatrick

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Seven of 10 customers trust online reviews just as much as word-of-mouth recommendations. Therefore, online reviews need to be part of every comprehensive marketing plan.

INDUSTRY PULSE

Do you monitor online reviews of your business?
  • 1. Yes
  • 2. No

One way to garner online reviews is by creating sampling programs and sending them to key influencers in different mediums. Below, the correlation between online reviews and profitability is examined, and businesses will get insider tips to make their next online review stellar.

Online Reviews and Sales

Ninety percent of consumers read online reviews before purchasing their next product. And, if your product is negatively reviewed, 80 percent of potential buyers will change their mind on your product.

But, if your product has stellar reviews, you'll see the increase in sales. Shoppers will trust your brand more, so they'll spend more.

If your brand is beloved by all and gets consistent five-star reviews, then consumers will spend 31 percent more when they check out.

Online Reviews and the Competition

Online reviews are nothing more than a digital battle between you and the competitors.

Roughly 80 percent of consumers looked at online reviews as a deciding factor when choosing between similar products. As you may have guessed, whatever product had the better online reviews is the product that won.

Your business needs to know who you competitors are. Then, take it a step further: really analyze the pros and cons of your product vs. theirs. Knowing the competition's weaknesses and strengths will allow you to position your product more effectively in online reviews — and in the heart of the consumers.

How to Get Positive Online Reviews

When a consumer goes out and purchases a product, you have no idea what they'll say. But when you handpick influencers who have expressed an interest in your product, you're able to make sure they have the information they need. Plus, if they have a question, you're right there to answer it.

A sampling program has been the tried-and-true method of receiving online and print reviews in public relations for decades. PR firms are able to tap into their industry connections to get the key influencers in blogs, newspapers, magazines and on social media to review your product.

Experts in the field are already trusted by your consumers, so when they see their favorite morning anchor give a rave review of your product, you can guarantee they'll be interested in trying it for themselves.

As far as the bad reviews go, follow up with the writers. Again, two-way conversations are the best way to change attitudes. Talking with a real human being will often deflate the online bully. After talking with you, a brand representative, the user may delete the review entirely or update the review to make it more positive.

Online reviews are a huge part of how your business will lose or gain business, so implement these tips to obtain more positive reviews — and consequently more business.

Emma Fitzpatrick is an assistant account manager at Garden Media, a public relations firm that specializes in the lawn and garden industry. Emma received a degree in English from West Chester University.