G2 Crowd is releasing its third quarterly research report: Crowd Views. The first two focused on “Solving the Talent Crisis” and “Solving Common Enterprise Problems.” This edition is about small business and the technology they use to solve their problems. The goal of this edition of Crowd Views is to help other small businesses understand what their peers are using to solve business problems. This is the sixth blog in our 10-part series about these small-business insights.
For small businesses, marketing is a constant struggle. With the advent of the internet, marketing software has never been more accessible, however, the breadth of choices and time commitment can be overwhelming. While billboards and TV ads may seem like easy and comfortable (though expensive) solutions to fall back on, their influence is steadily being eclipsed by the tech space.
In our most recent Crowd Views survey, we found that small businesses looking to grow are primarily investing in marketing and advertising this year (Crowd Views fig. 13). This makes complete sense: acquiring more customers is almost guaranteed to mean more revenue. However, how that money is used can make or break your attempt at growth.
Something that should absolutely be considered as a part of an online marketing strategy is online reviews. Of course, this is something that we here at G2 Crowd are deeply familiar with. Reviews empower buyers to make informed decisions, which is great for consumers, but can seem less positive for businesses.
These days, people put a lot of trust in online reviews. Apparently, 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and 90 percent read fewer than 10 reviews before forming an opinion. More importantly, according to the source above, Google takes reviews into account for search rankings (along with distance and relevance), so the better your reviews the higher your search rankings will likely be.
Bad reviews can give invaluable insight into the places where your business needs to improve and, if handled correctly, can actually win people over.
Yelp, the online business review site, recently released a factsheet with a variety of statistics. As of June 30, 2017, the site has a total of 135 million reviews. 22 percent of those reviews are for shopping-related businesses, 18 percent are for restaurants, and 14 percent are for home and other local services. But, positively, 47 percent of those are five stars and only 15 percent are one star. So if you’re a small-business owner concerned that online reviews might hurt your business, your fears may be unfounded.
However, it’s worth noting that the system is not always as honest as it appears. In 2013, Yelp was taken to court by small businesses that alleged that Yelp was extorting them for advertising money in order to remove bad reviews (the court ruled Yelp was not extorting business owners). Yelp does have an algorithm that recommends reviews as “helpful” and hides reviews that are considered “unhelpful” or may be fake. That doesn’t stop businesses from buying fake 5-star reviews in an attempt to raise their rankings, even though this is not a good idea.
In fact, negative reviews can actually be a good thing. Bad reviews can give invaluable insight into the places where your business needs to improve and, if handled correctly, can actually win people over. By responding quickly, publicly and sympathetically, customers can see that you care about both the quality of service provided and the customers themselves.
Online reviews can help you grow your business in multiple ways, but it’s up to you to provide a quality product. The adage “the customer is always right” feels outdated, but there is still an element of truth to it. Customers will always have opinions and you may or may not agree with them, but they are always entitled to those opinions. The internet simply makes those opinions public.