It’s clear that we live in a polarized world and everyone has an opinion about almost everything, right? And being able to do this behind a computer screen or mobile phone makes it way easier to express that opinion for the entire world to hear.
It is all fun and games (or a disaster) when the subject is politics, sports or your favorite TV series, but now these customer reviews can really impact your small business, for better or for worse, depending on how your consumers evaluate your service and how you interact with them online.
Around 95% of shoppers read online reviews when they are ready to buy (according to a study by Spiegel Research Center), and it is no different when potential customers are doing their online research and reading each customer review to choose which local brewery they will go this week for a couple of IPAs.
Understanding this fact is the first and crucial step for any retailer, restaurant, bar, or online store to analyze the competitor landscape. Now, you must know how to use this long-lasting trend and the data you can extract from it to increase revenues for your small business. And you cannot do this without Data Analytics, to help you navigate through the immense volume of data and find the insights you can actually apply in your business strategy.
Which customer review platforms should I focus on?
First of all, regardless of the type of small business, you must be in the Top 3 sites people use to post and search for customer reviews: Yelp, Google, and Facebook.
Setting up your Google Business account is a no-brainer. In addition to having your business information easily accessible for those people that search your company directly, the integration with Google Maps is paramount for any local business. Combined with SEO techniques to improve your site, it is a way to attract free traffic based on generic search terms related to your SME. And, of course, these reviews are some of the first that people read, so they can impact consumer purchasing decisions.
Yelp is one of our favorite platforms, as it enables adding really granular information and the reviews are extremely detailed, providing a clear picture on how consumers assess the service of a small business. Certainly, restaurants and bars are the primary targets for Yelp users, but we see an increasingly higher consumer review volume for retailers on the site.
A Facebook page is default for the local marketing strategy of any small business, and you should ask your customers to leave reviews there as it is constantly accessed by potential consumers and this helps social media optimization. Engage with comments left in your posts and with reviews, as even a negative review can be used as an opportunity to overturn a bad experience and gain a new loyal customer.
There are many other platforms depending on your business segment, such as Better Business Review, Grubhub, Yellow Pages (yes, they still exist), Manta, Angies List and Trust Pilot, among others.
But we want to highlight a specific one for breweries and craft beer bars called Untappd. It is an excellent source of information for beer lovers and can really help attract new business if used properly. For a segment that usually relies in releasing new products often, potential customers analyze it all the time.
Ok, but where does Data Analytics fit in this narrative?
Think about it. So far, we only talked about how you should use these tools to post information and receive feedback for your own business. But how about competitor research, analyzing what your competition is doing, and how their customers are rating their products and services? How are they using social media to interact with their customers? And how to study and compile all this information focusing on marketing strategies for small businesses and in a way that is easy for you to understand and take action for your SMB?
This is where data analytics is particularly useful. Using the right technology, you don’t have to spend countless hours scrolling through multiple pages of different platforms and writing down everything you see that can be helpful. And without dissecting and combining data in a visual manner it is almost impossible to use this information strategically.
Spark SMB Data created a proprietary data analytics software to offer this type of competitive analysis at an extremely affordable price for SMB’s. The ROI for our customers is counted in days, not in months, as they can access valuable insights of their competitors and actionable suggestions that they can apply immediately to improve customer attraction and sales for their business.
The Number: 95%
The Action: Use customer reviews strategically. Don’t focus only on your own consumers, look at the field and learn from your competitors.