Online shopping is undoubtedly more convenient than venturing out to a store. And as more consumers opt to make their purchases online, businesses must ensure that their digital front is as strong as their physical location.

However, plenty of customers still enjoy getting out of the house and entering a store directly. According to Google Data, “near me” searches featuring “can I buy” or “to buy” increased 500 percent between 2015 and 2017.

Going shopping is still a popular social activity, and it yields other benefits that cannot be achieved by browsing for items online. For instance, most consumers like to see, touch and/or immediately try on a product before buying it, which can only happen in-store. Time plays a factor, too, as purchasing items in-store eliminates the need for shipping, delays or postal mistakes.

Still, getting people in the door can be challenging. Consumers need a reason to make the trip, stay a while and purchase something.

There are a number of ways to boost foot traffic both offline and online. And because most consumers spend much of their time on their phones and computers, these online means are becoming the most powerful way to incentivize people to visit a storefront and reduce the friction involved in finding one.

In fact, 72 percent of consumers end up visiting a local business (within 5 miles) after conducting a local search. And most consumers are willing to spend 3 percent more on products and services from businesses with positive reviews.

Here we will examine the several ways in which online reviews can boost foot traffic and sales.

Make Your Brand More Trustworthy

Nothing yields a better return on investment than building consumer trust. Today, increasing positive reviews online is the most effective way to do this. Online reviews are becoming increasingly influential in consumer decision-making. So, the more glowing reviews a company has, the more likely it is to capture the attention of those seeking relevant products and services in their area.

New customers will feel more comfortable visiting a business that has already established a level of trust with the community. A 2017 BrightLocal survey found that 54 percent of consumers visit a store after reading a positive review.

And as long as the business continues to provide excellent goods and services, they will continue to receive good reviews, creating a positive feedback loop to further boost foot traffic.

Engage With Current and Potential Customers

Online reviews should not act as a one-way street. In fact, these reviews provide opportunities to increase social engagement. In the age of social media, this engagement is critical for businesses of all kinds to increase foot traffic.

When receiving reviews, business managers should do their best to respond to each one, paying close attention to the review’s content and generating a unique reply. Doing so serves to build consumer trust but also encourages consumers to continue engaging with the brand both online and offline.

In this way, responding to online reviews can result in bringing more people into a storefront.

Improve Your Local SEO Ranking

Word of mouth should not be underestimated, but it can only go so far in promoting a business and reaching new customers. A business must employ effective local marketing solutions to let people know it even exists, and, more importantly, that it is worth visiting.

Search engines, namely Google, have become the primary resource for consumers when seeking new businesses. Today, then, one of the most effective marketing strategies for local businesses is optimizing their online presence via search engine optimization (SEO).

There are many ways to achieve local SEO success, including increasing online reviews. Search engine algorithms feed off the habits of users, and most users actively seek online reviews before making decisions. Therefore, search engines boost the rankings of businesses with a greater number of genuine reviews and a higher degree of engagement.

Of course, the better the reviews are, the more enticing the business looks to new consumers. Whatever the case, more reviews leads to an enhanced online presence. And the more visible a business is online, especially locally, the more foot traffic it will receive.

The Power of Reputation Management Services

Online reviews help businesses receive more in-store customers by building consumer trust, increasing engagement and enhancing SEO rankings. But all of these benefits largely depend upon a company’s ability and willingness to read and respond to these reviews.

This is why reputation management services should be a part of every local online marketing strategy. These services allow businesses to access all reviews across platforms, gain valuable insights from them and reply to everyone in a timely fashion.