By Jillian Falconi, VP marketing, Trustpilot

There is an ever increasing number of community-led businesses building peer-to-peer reviews into the very core of their business marketing plan, from AirBnB to Urbanspoon. Trustpilot’s recent Trust Economy research found that 62 per cent of consumers are more likely to do business with a company after reading a positive review. But it’s not just about boosting the bottom line. Our Business Survey research discovered that 79 per cent of businessmen believe that reviews can play a highly important role in influencing consumers’ decision making; isn’t it time you considered the value of online reviews to your business?

At Trustpilot we recently asked 1,500 US and UK business executives about how they currently used online reviews. Interestingly, most businesses already consider online reviews as central to their strategy with almost eight out of 10 businessmen having already implemented reviews into their marketing toolkit. The same percentage said online reviews had already provided a positive financial impact on their business.

What’s more, public online reviews can enable businesses to turbo charge their marketing strategies. As a recent report by Google Seller Ratings, which aggregates reviews from a variety of independent review sites, shows that rated Google ads generate a 17 per cent higher click through rate than those that don’t feature a review, proving that having public online reviews can have a direct positive impact on sales. Businesses that refrain from engaging with customers in this way will be placing themselves at a financial disadvantage.

But think beyond the bottom line: listening to your customers has other business benefits too. Seventy eight per cent cited the acquisition of new customers, 57 per cent cited the ability to identify opportunities for improvement and 41 per cent cited increased customer loyalty as benefits they have seen by using customer reviews.

In this day and age, organisations can’t control the conversation as the social stratosphere enables customer to publically share their experiences. 50 per cent of businessmen stated that the biggest barrier to online reviews is their concern about potential negative exposure. However, only by taking ownership of the reviews process can businesses truly mitigate against the risk of negative reviews by dealing with them first hand.

So it’s clear the benefits can be leveraged outside of your sales’ team: many businesses would benefit from taking a cross-functional, collaborative approach to managing online reviews so that feedback is leveraged across marketing, customer experience and other product development initiatives. This will ensure that feedback is being used across the business, ensuring improved customer loyalty, advocacy and retention to ensure customers keep coming back for more.

The results of the study confirm that online reviews are becoming increasingly important to businesses for the acquisition and retention of new customers. By displaying reviews online, maximising their reach and sharing customer feedback across the business, retailers have the opportunity maximise these benefits even further.