Online vs. Offline Reputation: Which Is More Important?

By: Amy Merrill

Why Your Online Reputation Is More Important Than Your Offline Reputation

We live in the digital age. Gone are the days where a business can simply rely on word of mouth. Did you know that 91% of adults have their mobile phone within arm’s reach 24/7 and 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

It’s crazy to think about, but one thing is for sure- everyone is connected nowadays. Because of this change in consumer behavior, business owners have to step up to the plate and make sure their online presence is nothing less than superb. It’s safe to argue a business’s online reputation is more important than its offline reputation- here’s why.

Even After Word-of-Mouth, People Look Online to Find Business Information

Let’s say you’re in the need of updating your bathroom.

(The gold fixtures have. to. go.)

You know Suzie down the street just had a ton of renovations done. As you’re walking your dog you run into her while she’s grabbing her mail. You ask her how she liked her contractor. She replies saying they did a great job and provides you the business’s name.

Of course she didn’t have their information off the top of her head, so when you get back- what’s the first thing you do?

Google the business.

Even though Susie gave you a recommendation, you still had to go online to get their NAP (Name, Address, & phone). While you’re online you come across his website. Man it is ugly. It looks as if it was built back in 1999.

Then you see reviews about this company. However, there’s mostly negative reviews- some are saying X company is not reliable. This causes you to double guess Susie’s recommendation and you begin checking out other contractor companies in the area.

Because X Company had poor reviews and an outdated website compared to their competition, X Company just lost some business even though it was an offline recommendation. Which brings me to my next point…

More People Are Reading Online Reviews

Search Engine Land states, “Nearly 9 in 10 consumers have read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business, and 39% do so on a regular basis. The ‘trend line’ over the last four years clearly shows how much more regularly people are reading reviews, clearly highlighting the need for local businesses to attract more reviews and actively manage their online reputation.”

Just how many reviews are people reading? 85% of Consumers say they read up to 10 reviews!

However, there are a greater proportion of consumers who now read around 20 reviews. A key take-a-way here? The more positive reviews the better, and companies need at least 10 reviews for their readers to feel satisfied.

Businesses Need to Cater to the Millennials

According to PEW Research Center, 87% of the U.S population is online and the number continues to grow. Consumer behavior is constantly changing and it’s important now more than ever to cater to millennials. This generation has $200 billion in annual buying power and has a large influence over older generations. These are also people who never knew life without a computer. See what I’m getting at?

As Forbes explained, “Companies have been struggling to connect with this generation because many of the traditional methods of advertising have proven ineffective at capturing their attention. Furthermore, many companies believe in certain myths about millennials that are just plain inaccurate, including that they aren’t brand loyal.”

Millennials are attached to their cell phone, and where do they look to find a new restaurant, plumber, contractor, lawyer or any other product or service? Online!

Your online reputation is more important than your offline reputation because there’s more people searching the web. Consumer behavior is continually changing and it’s important as a business owner to be available online where the consumers are!