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The Green Sheet Online Edition

September 09, 2019 • Issue 19:09:01

Help merchants claim their online review profiles

By Peter Shenk

I've often stressed the importance of ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLS) moving from simply providing processing into a more consultative role with merchants. Such an approach helps create stickier relationships and can help merchants survive in today's turbulent marketplace.

One of the key ways you can help merchants increase revenue – and your residuals – is by assisting them in taking control of their online business presence on review sites (Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, OpenTable for restaurants, etc.). The advantages of this approach may seem self-evident, but it wasn't until recently that the financial impact of this practice was examined in detail.

Power of online reviews

I first broached this topic in "Merchants' online reviews are impacting your residuals," published in The Green Sheet Aug. 12, 2019, issue 19:08:01. In that article, I revealed recent research data indicating that one of the best ways MLSs can help merchants increase transaction volume (and their own residuals) is to educate merchants on the relevant points of online review management.

I discussed other findings from Womply's report How online reviews impact small business revenue, including eye-opening facts such as merchants with more than nine reviews posted within the last 90 days process 52 percent more revenue than average, and merchants with 25 or more recent reviews process 108 percent more than average.

Highest-ROI, lowest-lift

This article shares additional findings from the report and describes how merchants (and other business owners) can take control of their online business presence on review sites – and why they should do so. To find out which online reputation management techniques correlated with the largest increases in merchant revenue, Womply's data science team analyzed transactions and online review data for nearly 210,000 merchants across dozens of industries in all 50 states.

If you had to select the single, highest-ROI, lowest-lift task to encourage merchants to do that correlates with higher processing volume and residuals, it would be to claim all their relevant online listings. The process takes mere minutes, and the benefits are many and varied. Let's talk numbers

  • Claiming three or more online business listings correlates with a 78 percent jump in merchant revenue.
  • The average local merchant in the study processed just over $301,000 annually. However, merchants who claimed none of their online listings brought in just $228,000 – 24 percent less than average.
  • But merchants who claimed two of their online business listings processed nearly $341,000 annually, and those claiming three or more listings processed $408,000. That's 35 percent more than the average business in the study, and a whopping 78 percent more than businesses that had claimed no listings.

Money on the table

One of the primary reasons you should encourage merchants to claim their listings is that it allows them to respond to their online reviews. Why is this important to revenue and residuals? Let's have a look:

  • Merchants who regularly respond to online reviews process up to 49 percent more annual revenue.
  • According to the study, businesses that respond to reviews at least 25 percent of the time earn 35 percent more annual revenue than average, and 49 percent more revenue than those who don't respond to any of their reviews.
  • Despite this, among businesses in Womply's study, 75 percent don't respond to any online reviews, and roughly 25 percent haven't claimed a single online listing.

You can go over these numbers with merchants and assure them that ignoring their online review listings is akin to leaving a big bag of money on the table every year.

Multiple upsides, minimal time

Certainly, correlation doesn't equal causation, and there are likely multiple factors at play here. Merchants who claim more of their business profiles may be more likely to recognize the value of a strong online presence, and may also work to get and respond to more reviews – or may simply be more responsive to customers' complaints. And busy, successful merchants who process many more transactions than average may also naturally receive a greater number of reviews.

However, the correlation between claiming these online review profiles and increased transaction revenue is strong, and there are only upsides for merchants who do so.

So, take a few minutes to urge merchants to claim all of their online listings and to start responding to their reviews if they haven't. You'll find an up-to-date list of 25 free business listing websites every small or local business should be on here: www.womply.com/blog/25-free-listing-websites-every-small-business/. Merchants, processors, ISOs and MLSs will all reap the benefits. end of article

Peter Shenk is vice president of partnerships at Womply, a leading software partner to the payments industry and the top provider of front-office software to small businesses. Contact him at pshenk@womply.com. For more surprising insights and vertical-specific data broken down by state, you can access Womply's full How online reviews impact small business revenue report at www.womply.com/impact-of-online-reviews-on-small-business-revenue/.

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