Thanks to the Internet, word-of-mouth reviews spread like wildfire - which can be both a good and bad thing for merchants.
Since consumers tend to trust the opinions of their peers more than anything else, user reviews are a very influential factor in a customer's purchasing decision. In fact, a 2012 BrightLocal study reveals that 72 percent of survey respondents claim that they trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations, while 52 percent said that positive reviews make them more likely to use a local business.
That said, it is important for businesses to keep an eye on their consumer reviews, as it will provide them with some insight of how customers perceive their business. Moreover, by monitoring review sites, businesses can learn what areas of their enterprise need improvement (customer service, product selection, cleanliness, etc.), as well as share their most favorable reviews with fans and followers.
In order to do this, however, merchants must first know which user review websites are the most critical to their business. This will allow them to monitor the consumer feedback, and in some cases, even give a response to the reviews.
To get you started, Website Magazine has compiled a list of five user review websites that are critical to small businesses, regardless of industry:
Yelp is among the most popular user review websites. In fact, this site received more than 1 million new reviews in January 2013 alone. That said, the best part about Yelp is that business owners can claim their establishment on this site and not only monitor their reviews, but also interact with their customers through the platform both privately and publicly. Moreover, Yelp provides tools to its business users that allow them to track how many people visited their page, create deals to attract customers and view other stats and charts to measure the performance of their business page.
Every social network's newsfeed sees some sort of word-of-mouth advertising from its members, and Facebook is no exception. In fact, Facebook Business Pages have a recommendation section where customers can leave reviews that business owners can monitor. Moreover, these reviews, along with likes, comments and other interactions, are expected to increase a business's visibility when the social network's new Graph Search feature comes out of beta and is open to the public.
This location-based social network is all about the reviews. Upon checking-in to an establishment, consumers have the option to rate the business and leave tips (reviews) about their experience. Businesses can monitor these user reviews by claiming their establishment on Foursquare, and can also leverage the platform's business tools, including engaging customers with updates, attracting customers with specials and measuring success with analytics.
While consumers typically don't go to the BBB (Better Business Bureau) website to write positive reviews, the platform does allow consumers to do so on its accredited business pages. That said, accredited businesses aren't the only ones who should monitor this platform, as any business can receive complaints through the BBB website. Businesses are notified from the BBB about their complaints, and have the opportunity to respond and close the complaints to maintain or improve their BBB rating.
The aforementioned are among the most influential user-review sites, yet they are far from the only platforms where customers go to review the products and services they receive. Here are a fifteen more sites to keep on your radar:
This popular listing site features user reviews for a variety of industries, including arts and entertainment, construction and remodeling, financial services, food and dining, health and medical services, home and garden, personal services and retail stores.
Yahoo! Local enables users to discover, rate and review local establishments and events.
Consumers can use Local.com to discover, rate and review nearby businesses, events, deals and activities.
Insiderpages provide local reviews for the health and medical, home and garden, hair and beauty, auto services and pet industries.
Consumers can use Merchantcircle to find local businesses and deals, as well as rate and review businesses from a multitude of industries.
This website calls itself a "social search tool." It allows consumers to search for local reviews, recommendations and revies, as well as share places and recommendations with friends.
Consumers can go to Angie's list to rate and review service providers, including home, outdoor, health and auto services.
Consumers can go to this website to review and rate everything from small businesses to products and services across a variety of industries, including business services, consumer products and services, food and berverage, industrial, health, technology and communications.
The Yellow Pages aren't only for finding local businesses anymore, because consumers can also go to this site to look for deals, as well as review and rate businesses and services.
Consumers can visit Cityslick to find coupons and browse local business information, including ratings and reviews, for numerous industries.
Similar to many of the aforementioned services, localPages allows consumers to discover local businesses, deals and coupons, as well as rate and review businesses and services.
This user review website focuses on products instead of retailers. It featuers reviews for a wide variety of products, has a robust filtering system and allows consumers to compare products side-by-side.
Epinions also focuses on products, however does include some store reviews as well. Moreover, this platform features a robust filtering system as well as numerous review categories.
Consumers can go to ExpoTV to upload a video user review for new products and earn rewards in doing so.
If you want to know what people think about your website, check out Site Jabber. This platform allows consumers to discover and review sites across the 'Net.
These are far from the only user review sites that can be found on the Web. If we missed one of your favorites, let us know in the comment section below.