Typically, the first things consumers will see when they research your business online are its ratings and reviews. Having a good overall star rating and quality content in your reviews will spark interest in your business. But more importantly, it could be what ultimately pushes a customer to make a purchase.

Because the customer journey is so long, consumers can easily get lost in the shuffle. But if your business has a solid online presence, you have a better chance of shepherding the customer from awareness to purchase and beyond.

Increase visibility

The first step of the customer journey is awareness. If you want to attract new business, it’s important that consumers know who you are and what you do. Traditional marketing and advertising on billboards, radio, television, and newspapers are still an effective way to get noticed and keep your business top of mind.

Online reviews come into play when a consumer starts actively looking for a business. Consumers typically don’t go directly to your URL. They will either type the name of your business into a search engine or conduct a “near me” search for businesses like yours.

How do you make sure your business shows up when customers are conducting these searches? The key is to optimize your online presence for local search. One of the key components that make up Google’s local search algorithm is online reviews. The algorithm factors in how many reviews you have, what your overall star rating is, and also takes into account if you are responding to and engaging with reviews.

It’s important to make sure your business is at or near the top of Google’s Knowledge Panel. If it’s not, the odds are low that the consumer will expand the search results until your business shows up.

Drive Interest

Now that consumers have found your listing online, this is where your star rating and content really come into play. If you have a low star rating or if your business has a low number of reviews, this could be off-putting and could lead consumers to drop you from consideration.

Conversely, if you have a pristine online presence, you appear to be more trustworthy and could push your business into the next step of the customer journey. In fact, studies have shown that most customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from family and friends.

If you want your customers to move from consideration to purchase in the customer journey, it’s important that your reviews provide the social proof many consumers need to pull the trigger on a buying decision.

Influence Purchase Decisions

In addition to creating trust between the consumer and business, online reviews also have an impact on buyer behavior. According to a study conducted by Dimensional Research, 90% of consumers say that online reviews impacted purchase decisions.

Make your business better

The last step of the customer journey deals with post-sale interactions. Once a purchase is made, businesses need to start work on developing loyalty. You might be wondering what role online reviews play in loyalty.

The answer is simple. Online reviews not only help your business get found and chosen, but the feedback contained can make your business better. Online reviews can help you identify which processes are working and which ones need some tweaking. If your business is committed to using data to get better, your customers will remain loyal.