If you do not reside under a rock, or hail from the land of Oz, you’ve heard of Yelp. You’ve probably also heard of CitySearch, Google Places, and Foursquare. You might have heard of other sites like Patch and other regional sites that have loads and loads of opinions and ratings of your business. If you are lucky.
The fact of the matter is that reviews from peers are much more powerful than anything you can say as a business. Way, way more powerful. You are trying to get their money, while your experience patrons are commenting on your business out of the ‘goodness’ of their hearts. In fact, studies by The Neilsen Company shows that 70% of consumers trust these reviews, which is more than most other forms of advertising.
If you are avoiding these sites and aren’t pushing for more reviews and promoting your great reviews on your other online networks, you may be wasting marketing dollars needlessly. In fact, countless salons claim they get the majority of their clients from review sites; and this is only guaranteed to grow as mobile usage increases, and other websites making reviews more accessible online.
Review sites have become a large part of building a reputation online and being found by new clients. Without these sites, we’d still be at the mercy of the big ol’ Yellowpages and hoping someone saw our advertisement in the local magazine and studies have shown that they do impact the bottom line. A study done by Harvard Business School concludes that each star rating on Yelp.com results in an impact on revenue of 5 to 9%, depending on a variety of factors. That’s huge. HUGE. This study also goes on to state that local, independent businesses were those that were most affected and those that have fewer reviews tended to have the most inaccurate reviews of quality. Even simple math will tell you that you can average out an occasional bad review with lots of good reviews.
This study was focused on a group of restaurants, but when beauty salons are a decent chunk of businesses on the same network, this fact cannot be ignored across small businesses. People do not care about whether you think you are the greatest, they care about what your clients have to say.
The online review industry is constantly looking at ways to increase the credibility of the reviews, ensure they accurately reflect the true business and are, most importantly, easily accessible when the consumer needs them. A hypothetical, yet not so uncommon, situation: a young lady is walking down the street after doing some shopping and her boyfriend isn’t coming to pick her up for a few more hours so she’s wondering what else there is to do besides shop. She doesn’t know the area and is shopping alone, so what becomes her trusty guide to this new area of town? Not your storefront, not your website, not the cute waiter at the cafe on the corner. It’s Yelp, Foursquare and other local applications that have features designed to hone in on your location and advise on neat things to do in the area, all from other patrons. You can browse by companies that have offers on, by genre of business and see what other people have to say about the business before you walk through their doors. Would you want to be on the list of businesses that she could visit?