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There are many different ways to boost your company’s bottom line in the digital world. While you can spend a huge amount of money investing in things like content marketing or online ads, one thing that can’t be overlooked is the importance of online reviews.

Online reviews are a cornerstone of your online presence – a foundation on which you build the rest of your efforts. They’re critical to not only attracting the right leads, but in making sure that leads become conversions. Studies continue to show that they’re completely enmeshed with the decision making process that consumers go through when they decide whether or not to give a specific business their money.

Roughly 7 out of 10 consumers say that they are more likely to use a local business if they have positive reviews, and half of consumers will only use a business if it has numerous online reviews with an average of 4 stars on those reviews. Simply put, if you ignore online reviews then you are alienating yourself from a huge number of potential customers.

But, there are plenty of additional reasons that you should think about when it comes to making sure that you have a plethora of positive online reviews. If you’re not convinced that its’ worth investing time and money into getting these reviews, take a look at some of the main benefits they offer to you.

One – They Are A Local Ranking Factor
It’s estimated that by 2025 roughly three fourths of the world will access the web exclusively using their smartphones. This may not seem like it matters, but when you consider that it has a huge impact on local internet searches, the issue becomes clear.

Specifically, when people do a search for a business on their phone, the search engine shows them local based business results for the area that they are in. They can see nearby businesses along with hours, phone numbers, and reviews.

When you spend time boosting your online reviews, you’ll notice that your local SEO ranking increases dramatically. You’ll not only get more local search visibility, but will have reviews there for those who find you in a search, which in turn increases the chances that your search results will translate into better conversions.

Two – Online Reviews Are Highly Trusted
Any business can make a post or an ad talking about how amazing their products or services are. But most users online will simply look at those posts as advertising copy that may not be true. This isn’t the case with online reviews.

They are more similar to digital word of mouth – instead of reading promises that a business is making, users are reading accounts from the previous clients and customers of that business. This builds trust in a big way. Consider some of the numbers that back this up:

  • Eight out of ten millennials say they will never purchase a product or service until reading online reviews first.
  • Three out of ten will only buy from sites that have trusted recommendations.
  • 91 percent of millennials trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from someone they know.

And the numbers show that this level of trust isn’t a passive thing – when customers trust a business’ online reviews, they end up taking action. Simply put, you need to have online reviews in order to build a stronger level of trust with your potential customers.

Three – Online Reviews Are Ubiquitous
Online reviews are everywhere. There’s no way to escape them at this point in the world – they’re there in the very fabric of online consumer behavior. 86% of consumers read reviews for online businesses before they choose what to do.

This means that if you’re not making them a priority but one of your competitors is putting reviews high on their priority list, you’re failing to reach a wide consumer base.

Four – A Poor Reputation Is Terrible For Business
Like it or not, reviews matter. And if your online reviews are all negative or if you have little positive reviews out there, it can impact your reputation. Negative reviews stop 40% of customers wanting to use a business immediately. No business will ever have 100% positive reviews, of course, but it’s important that you don’t ignore the importance of getting positive ones.

This is the age of the consumer, and social media can impact your business’ future in a huge way – a single negative review talked about online can destroy your reputation. As such, you need to make sure that you’re building positive online reviews for your business. Otherwise, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle.

Five – They can Provide Important Insights To Your Business
This is a benefit that is often overlooked. While reviews will increase your SEO, drive up your local SEO as well, and help customers trust you more, they can also give you something that is truly priceless – information.

Online reviews let you read about the things that your customers experience when they do business with you. You’ll get info on everything, and even negative reviews hold plenty of info that can tell you more about how to change your business plan.

Never, ever argue with a negative review. Instead, learn from it – as well as your positive reviews. They can tell you what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong, and the smart business leaders will use the data they get from a review to help evolve their business. There’s a wealth of data there – don’t forget to use it.

The Bottom Line
Few things can impact your business’ future in the same way that online reviews can. But since they are an organic factor, its’ also not something that you can just pay a marketer to create. Instead, you’ll need to work to collect them. Provide stellar goods or services and send out a follow up email or text requesting reviews – don’t beg, but ask. Doing so can start to generate the reviews you need to build a stronger foundation for your online presence.