ORLANDO, Fla.Engaging customers online can help a business grow, and companies that are not participating online are missing opportunities.
Ross McArthur, director of sales and business development for online consultants at Net Driven, delivered that message to attendees at a seminar at the International Tire Exhibition & Conference (ITEC) in Orlando.
Regardless of one's own opinion about them, he said, online reviews are there and people are reading themand it's all about gaining trust.
Mr. McArthur, whose presentation covered the importance of positioning a business online, referenced an article from Third Door Media Inc.'s Search Engine Land website that said that 72 percent of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Word-of-mouth advertising has always been one of the best, if not the best, form of marketing for a business, he noted. With online reviews, consumers do not just have the power to tell a few friends, but the ability to broadcast their experiences to the masses.
Among the biggest concerns for tire dealers when handling online reviews, according to Mr. McArthur, are how to keep track of them and how to handle negative comments.
He said one bad review can actually be a good thing, because consumers may question if the reviews are legitimate if the business being reviewed previously had always garnered a five-star rating.
When a company does get a negative review, Mr. McArthur said, the best thing to do is respect it and respond to it. Regardless if it is right or wrong, that is how a customer feels.
There are many review sitessuch as Yelp, Google, Facebook, etc.where a consumer can post reviews. He advised business owners to think about their company's manpower and be realistic about whether there is someone in-house who can track reviews or whether the business should pay a third party to handle it.
If the owner decides to do it in-house, he said, tackle the big sites first because they will host the majority of the reviews about a business.