What to expect from online reviews in 2019

Multiple times already, we’ve been underlining the importance of online reviews (if you still haven’t, read Why online reviews matter? 5 (not so obvious) reasons).
As a matter of fact, online reviews – especially on a local level – have a consistent influence on consumers’ understanding and attitudes to a business, as well as on their final purchase decision: for 88% of diners, the choice of the restaurant depends almost entirely on customer reviews!

In this blog post, we will round up the most important 2019 trends in online reviews, so that you can get a better understanding and start using them as a powerful marketing tool for your restaurant or bar.

Google is the fastest-growing reviews platform.

The first key finding regards Google – again – proving itself the king of web traffic. As much as 64% of consumers say they are likely to check Google for reviews before visiting a business – more than those consulting traditional review sites, such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. Why?

The reason appears to be Google reviews’ visibility in search results. According to InternetLiveStats.com, the most popular search engine worldwide performs over 3.5 billion searches per day. By displaying its own reviews and ratings directly in search results, Google gained the major audience even in the customer reviews game. Sneaky, uh?

Management responses to reviews are expected.

An online review is just a genuine desire to interact with a business, either showing satisfaction or complaining about a bad experience; therefore, like any interaction, it’s supposed to be two-sided.

According to research, 7 out of 10 consumers expect to receive a response from businesses that they reach out – and 52% of them expect it within 7 days. Also, if they are providing negative feedback, that number rises to 72%: customers want to be addressed personally when something goes wrong. But there’s a gap between these expectations and reality. ReviewTrackers survey results show that 63% (close to two-thirds) of consumers have never heard from a business after leaving a review!

Review responses really make the difference: not only the single customer feels heard and considered, but also whoever visit your business’s review page will see your reply and have a better consideration of your venue. 80% of consumers believe that a business cares more about them when it adds management responses to online reviews.

When your guests speak about your venue on feedback channels, make sure to join the conversation – always respond to reviews, especially the negative ones. Here’s a little guidance for you.

Bad reviews drive customers away.

98% of consumers say an online review has persuaded them to avoid a business.

Alarming results? Not really. Bad reviews can be an opportunity, rather than a problem. First of all, they provide constructive feedback, helping you identify the gaps you need to work on within your business. Also, note that as much as 75% of diners would not walk into a restaurant with only positive reviews. Why? Because negative reviews help picture a wider scenario. People are looking for trustworthiness, not perfection.

And remember that a negative review will stay negative forever only if you ignore it. By addressing it correctly, you are able to maintain an attractive online reputation. Your guests continuously talk about your venue on the Web, regardless of whether they like it or not. Be there to listen and respond.

There’s another point: according to ReviewTrackers survey findings, a negative experience is more likely to produce a negative review. So, in order to limit the prevalence of bad reviews, you need to be proactive about encouraging happy customers to leave positive reviews. Here are 5 proven ways to get your guests to write more positive reviews about your venue.

Star ratings matter.

As much as 70% of consumers use rating filters. In particular, they search for businesses with 4-star ratings and higher, which means that if your restaurant or cafè isn’t on board, you could be potentially overlooked by most of your prospects.

But here’s the thing: while as much as 57% won’t use a business with lower than 4 stars, only 11% want a perfect 5 stars. The reason? Again, people seek for trustworthy opinions, not perfection. They consider 1-star reviews, too: indeed, they are more curious than ever to see what could go wrong when visiting a business.

It’s not about getting poor feedback, but rather how you react to it. It’s critical that you respond to your negative reviews professionally, politely and quickly.

Consumers now commonly leave reviews on social media.

Besides Google, also Facebook reviews have grown tremendously.
Within the last few years, customers are increasingly engaging with businesses through social channels, and there is no social platform more popular than Facebook. Reviews are migrating to Facebook due to a specific reason: since most users on the site already have an account (and most of the time they are already logged-in), leaving a business review is nearly frictionless.
Less friction = more reviews.

With that being said, it is crucial that you, as a business owner, monitor your Facebook page at all the time. Sometimes it could be difficult to keep track of all your reviews through multiple channels: that’s why we suggest you use a review management tool that will allow you to collect and manage all your reviews from one platform, saving you lots of time.

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