The Importance of Review Sites

By: Susan DeMatei 

We all have a love/hate relationship with online reviews. We get angry when someone points out our flaws on Yelp, but we look for multiple reviews when considering something on Amazon. 

Four Reasons You Should Care About Online Reviews 

  Let’s start with your consumer. Chances are, if you’re a winery and you’re selling mid-priced wine, your consumers fall into the Baby Boomer and Generation X demographics. (The 2021 Silicon Valley Bank reported that Boomers and Gen Xers account for 71% of wine consumption.) 

  However, this won’t be the case for long. If you consider the SIZE of each generation, Baby Boomers are aging out, and GenXers aren’t that big of a group of individuals. The oldest Millennials turn 40 this year. So very soon – as in the next five years – our targets will be Millennials. 

  The shift is significant because of the vast difference in values between Boomers and Millennials. Boomers are the responsible generation and did what they could to justify purchases with tangible data like scores. They also liked outward recognition and status to validate that they made the right decisions. Millennials, on the other hand, tend to look for a purpose or meaning behind their products. Ideally, they search for companies and products with detailed backstories that offer intrinsic value to make them feel good about themselves and the purchase. And they care about what their cohorts think.  

  So, over the next 5-10 years, we will witness a massive shift in marketing, and one of the major transformations will be in the area of influence.  While today’s wine consumers are widely influenced by the established press or reviews, the consumers of tomorrow care about what peers say – even if they’re anonymous peers. 

  The second compelling reason is the sheer number of review sites and our reliance on them for purchase validation. It’s already evident that we’re groomed to look for ratings and reviews before we buy. Here is a brand-new ranking of the top 10 review sites based on searches. You can see here that these sites get millions of views a month.  

  A third reason to care about online reviews is Google. Reviews appear in, and help, Google search ranking. And incidentally, they also appear in search results by Alexa in voice-search. The number and quality of your reviews directly contribute to, or inhibit, people’s ability to find you and your products.   

  The best strategy here is to harvest Google reviews. Google supports Google. Google wants you to use its tools. So, it makes sense that Google cares if you have your Google My Business Page set up and that you’re collecting reviews. In addition to nepotism, it’s good business because Google will see that you’re a valid business and will have more credibility returning your company and product in search results. 

  The fourth reason you should care about review sites is because your customers care about review sites. 92% to 97% of customers look for or read a review before doing business with a company. 80% of us trust reviews by strangers just as highly as a reference from our friends. 72% of us look for only positive reviews, and 86% will not do business with those with negative reviews. (Clutch.co) 

  And it is surprising how quickly comfort levels fall when you go from five to one-star ratings. 94% of us will use a business with a four-star rating, but only 14% will consider a two-star rated business. 

  My advice is to be familiar with what people say about you. Search your brand. Know where you and your wine show up and what feedback you’re receiving. 

Tools to Help 

  Ok, but how can you efficiently monitor all those online review channels. Especially when you already have your hands full trying to run your business’s day-to-day without scouring Yelp and Google for new posts. Fortunately, there are some reputation management tools you can use to help out. 

  The easiest tool for tracking any mention of your company or product online is Google Alerts. This is a free search that lets you create daily alerts for any mentions of your brand online. Enter the name of your brand or product in the search bar to see who is talking about you. Then you can create a constant alert to get results emailed to you. The downside is it can be tough to filter the information out in an intelligent way. For instance, when I worked with Opus One, I was reminded daily how many products and companies contained “Opus.” That said, it’s a free, easy tool. If you’re a small winery on a time crunch with a limited budget, Google Alerts is worth your time. 

  ReviewPush is an excellent tool if you do have a small budget and want to take it one step further. With this service, for $89 a month you can create alerts for over 20 different review sites and have them sent to your inbox. Even more timesaving is a feature that allows you to respond direct to reviews from within those email alerts. This alone might be worth the cost. You can also involve an extended team with distributed reports and access to dashboards. So if you have multiple players in your tasting room or wine club, this might be an efficient way to have the entire team monitor and response quickly.  

  There are many other tools in this space that also fall into reputation management. So in addition to looking at reviews, they can monitor what anyone is saying about you on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. These are pricier options and typically involved working out your needs with a sales rep. 

  So hopefully this gave you some incentive to include reputation management as part of your marketing strategy, and some tools to help. In the next article we’ll talk about how to work with your tasting rooms to request reviews – it’s not as scary as it sounds. But until then, start to pay attention to where your customers are trying to communicate about you. Start thanking and replying to them if you aren’t already and take the view that feedback as gift to help you improve and delight future customers. 

  Susan DeMatei is the President and Nathan Chambers is an Account Director at WineGlass Marketing, a full-service direct marketing firm working within the wine industry in Napa, California.  www.wineglassmarketing.com

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