At one time, clients interested in purchasing products your business offers began their shopping process by simply walking in your front door. The only problem back then was that if they didn’t find your products and services compelling enough to spend their money there, they next walked through the door of a competitor. This model of goods and services comparison was good for businesses because it required a high amount of efforts from the consumer. People simply got tired of searching around for the best “deal” or best service.
Next, advertising trained shoppers to call instead of walking through the door by promoting phone numbers on television and radio advertisements. This worked great for businesses, until people realized they could simply call your competition to compare products and services without actually walking through your front door. This is known as marketing work-around for consumers, but was still fairly labor intensive because people had to search business listings in the phone book and pick businesses to call without knowing any real details about them.
Enter the 1990’s. Consumers could now find businesses, products, and pricing with a very low amount of effort on their part. One thing was missing though; there was still no easy way for them to know how satisfied a business’ previous clients were (think “will I be happy spending my money there?”). Enter business reviews, yelp, rate this place, et al. Consumers could now research what a business’ previous clients had to say about them while simultaneously comparing those details to other business they were considering shopping with. Put simply, things got even harder for businesses. They now have to not only attract new clients and service them at a high level of satisfaction; they need to invite those satisfied clients to tell other potential clients about their experiences by reviewing their business online.
Online reviews are now embedded into practically all business search results. If you aren’t paying attention to this and proactively building your reputation, you’re being left behind. Online reviews are the new front door and it’s not too late to use this to your advantage. Amazingly, but most businesses aren’t paying attention to their reputation or simply don’t know what to do to fix it. They continue to spend thousands of dollars on radio and television advertisements that drive traffic to the web. This then leads to consumers seeing their reputation as well as that of their competition just inches away on screen. If they have a weak online reputation, they might be paying to drive traffic away from them and into their competitor’s front door.
What do you think? Are online reviews the new front door?