Review sites: The local business gateway to in-store sales

In the coming year, small businesses will invest in more technology and continue to level the playing field and better compete with big-box stores and chain restaurants. But before jumping on different platforms to grow, market, and engage your shoppers, don’t forget to tie your proverbial shoes.

Acquiring new customers is a marathon, not a sprint. There are hard-charging, sprint-like days, weeks, and months along the way, of course, but overall, marketing to new customers should be a part of the business plan for every business owner who wants to grow their audience and share of their local market.

This is why it’s surprising that so many local and small businesses haven’t claimed their online review listings. The average small business invests hundreds—maybe thousands—in paid advertising and marketing tools every month. Before spending a dime on advertising, every small business should leverage the free and proven online review channel for acquiring new customers. Let’s walk—not run— through it.

For starters, what is an unclaimed listing?

Most people have heard of Yelp. It’s one of many review sites and online business listings. It’s a centralized location for shoppers to find a local business that offers what they hope to buy. In the past, most of these local review listing sites applied to restaurants. That isn’t the case anymore.

Not only has Yelp expanded the categories on its app, but there are also other places and other listings that shoppers visit first. They include, but are not limited to, apps and sites like Google My Business, Facebook, FourSquare, OpenTable, and TripAdvisor.

Nearly all review sites offer listings to businesses for free. Claiming these listings is one of the most important and easy things a business owner can to direct this rich foot-traffic into their store.

An unclaimed listing is one that exists in the wild but isn’t run or managed by the business owner. Businesses don’t have to create the listing, meaning the owner or manager may have never used Google My Business but still have a profile that consumers find when conducting local searches. There’s no downside to claiming your business’ pages, but plenty of downside to notclaiming them.

Review listings: The gateway to in-store sales

The most intent shoppers (people most likely to spend money in your store) aren’t visiting your website. They’re not strolling down Main Street window shopping. They’re not looking your business up in the Yellow Pages. Like most of us, they are on their smartphones. They’re on search engines and map apps looking for nearby places to shop, for places to hire the services they need, and they’re looking for the best choice based on the social proof of review scores.

These shoppers are the most likely people to visit a store and make a purchase. Whatever their need, they’re trying to solve it, fast. Of this particular group of people, 75% of them will visit a store within a day of their search. That makes this specific group one of the highest quality channels of foot-traffic. They aren’t tire-kickers, nor window-shoppers. These are people ready to buy.

For every four of these people who visit a store, at least one is going to buy. Specifically speaking, 28% of these shoppers will likely purchase. The average online shopper intent to buy sits around 2-3% of visitors, making this channel of shoppers ten-times more important to your store than the average visitor.

And most businesses aren’t even on the radar when shoppers go looking.

The majority of small businesses forgo their best foot-traffic opportunities

As of 2017, 56% of businesses have not claimed their review listing on Google. Another 66% haven’t registered their businesses on Yelp. Review listings are grossly underused for foot-traffic growth, despite the fact these two sites are typically the first places people go to learn more about local businesses.

Another way to look at these numbers: Roughly 2 out of 3 businesses forfeit foot-traffic to local competitors and big-box stores because they update and manage their online listings. Businesses with unclaimed listings are losing a major fight in the battle for foot-traffic. Nearly every shopper (97% of them) rely on business reviews and listings when deciding where to shop. So if you’re not showing up with accurate information, you’re passing up one of the most consistent and reliable sources of shoppers.

If you’re not sure or if you have not visited these various sites, you likely have unclaimed listings. Don’t worry, below we’ve links to see where your listings stand. Even if you’re well into your marketing marathon, there’s still time to take a look and make sure your shoes are tied.

There’s no reason to get tripped up.

Take Action

Take time this week to claim a few of your online listings. Be sure the information you provide is accurate customers can find and contact your shop. Below are links to the most used review sites and their respective claim my business pages.

Google         Yelp         Facebook         TripAdvisor

If you’d like to learn more how to manage these listings from one location, get notifications for new reviews, missing information, or when information may be outdated, learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!

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