I often speak with internet marketers who focus solely on getting reviews for the sake of the rating. Whether it be the Zagat-styled number rating displayed with Google+ local listings, CitySearch’s aggregate vote score, or the more common 5-star model, ratings are key to differentiation online.
At the end of the day, it is wise to work toward a high rating, but it is important not to lose site of the reviews themselves. After all, reviews get read.
Everywhere you turn online, content marketing is being espoused by the experts. Broadly speaking, the idea is for businesses to create compelling content of real value to attract an audience, build affinity, and ultimately convert more customers. For local service businesses, content examples include how-to videos on YouTube and blog posts.
Intuitively, this seems like a great idea. Content creation is a way for small businesses to optimize their web presence and stand out from the pack. The problem is inputs for outputs. It takes a lot of time and resources to generate content with any regularity, and in the end, it is not clear how much it is valued by prospective customers.
You may not think of customer reviews as part of a content-creation strategy, but reviews are user-generated content that consumers actually seek out as part of the buying process. A BrightLocal.com study on reviews consumption found that “65% of consumers read between 2-10 reviews” when researching local businesses online. As it turns out, the content you create may not be as meaningful to your prospective customers as the content created by your customers.
Armed with the knowledge that a typical consumer reads as many as 10 reviews as part of their buying process, business owners and their marketing surrogates would be wise to take a look at what is actually being written in the reviews themselves. There may be an opportunity to feature the most impactful content. It seems clear based on the numbers that consumers base their decisions as much on that they read as the ratings they encounter.