Over the last few years, many small business owners have developed a love-hate relationship with online reviews.

On one hand, when you consider the popularity of sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, or Foursquare—online reviews are a great way to get discovered online. On the other hand, if you’ve ever received a negative review, you know just how frustrating it can be.

But whether you love them or hate them, for 90% of consumers online reviews do have an influence.

Plus, find out which email marketing best practice is now being put into action by 73% of businesses.

Check out these top stories and more in this week’s marketing news roundup.

1. Survey: 90% of consumers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews

A new survey from research firm Dimensional Research provides an interesting look into how reviews on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other online listing sites impact consumer buying decisions.

According to the survey, which included responses from 1,046 respondents in the US, 90% of consumers who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive reviews influenced their decision to buy. On the flipside, 86% said that negative reviews had also influenced buying decisions.

The survey also found that while negative reviews are most commonly found on popular review sites, positive reviews are most frequently seen on social media—with 44% coming from Facebook.

Bottom Line: If you own a small business, you’re probably already aware that online reviews play an important role in how customers are finding your business online.

Today more than ever, consumers want to know they can trust businesses to provide a positive experience before deciding to make a purchase, sign up for a service, or even visit your place of business.

As a business owner, the best thing you can do to get the most out of online reviews is to encourage the people who know you best to share their feedback. While it can be intimidating to ask, the reviews and recommendations from your best customers can have a major impact on your business.

Check out our free guide to get the help you need to overcome the fear of asking for referrals.

2. 73% of businesses carry out basic email segmentation

Are you segmenting your email contacts?

If you’re like 73% of participants in a recent survey conducted by Econsultancy, the answer is yes.

According to the survey, which looked at responses from more than 1,300 marketers, the number of businesses taking advantage of the value of segmentation is on the rise—with 16% expecting to do more in the next year.

Other email actions that are on the rise amongst businesses include:

  • 52% Encouraging sharing of content
  • 49% Regular list cleansing
  • 38% Use of video

Bottom Line: If you’re not already, now is a great time to consider segmenting your contact list. Segmentation allows you to better target your message and deliver content that’s more relevant to all the people who shop at your store, visit your website, or interact with your business online.

You can segment your readers from the point of signup or can collect information to help you do it overtime. You can even use your reporting to make smarter decisions about the content you create and send to your audiences.

Here are 5 examples of how small businesses and nonprofits can segment their list.

3. Foursquare makes it easy for users to discover local businesses with latest update

Foursquare released an update to its iOS app this week—expanding its emphasis on search and location-based recommendations.

One of the biggest changes was the relocation of Explore, Foursquare’s location search feature. Now, when users open the mobile app Explore will be located at the center of the main screen—rather than on a secondary tab within the app.

In addition, users will also be able to access updates about trending locations, recommendations, and other local happenings within their own activity feed.

Bottom Line: Over the last year, Foursquare has rolled out a number of updates and new features to help give users a better way of discovering new businesses in their area.

And business owners have taken notice. According to a new survey from SinglePlatform, 62% of small business think it’s important to be seen on major mobile apps.

People who search on mobile apps aren’t just browsing the web, they are actively looking for a place to eat or shop. If you’re not listed, they won’t find you. If you haven’t already, make sure to claim your business on Foursquare.

4. LinkedIn amps up content, acquires newsreader Pulse

LinkedIn confirmed this week that it has acquired Pulse, a newsreader app that aggregates news and social-media feeds.

In announcing the acquisition, Deep Nishar, LinkedIn senior vice president of product had this to say,

“We believe LinkedIn can be the definitive professional publishing platform – where all professionals come to consume content and where publishers come to share their content. Millions of professionals are already starting their day on LinkedIn to glean the professional insights and knowledge they need to make them great at their jobs.”

Bottom Line: Over the last year, LinkedIn has taken huge steps toward making the site a hub of valuable content. For LinkedIn, the decision to do so has been part of an ongoing attempt to keep users engaged and coming back every day.

Providing content that users can use and apply to their own lives has been a strategy that seems to be working for LinkedIn. It’s also a strategy that could work for your business or organization as well.

Keep an eye out for some of the great content that could soon be coming to LinkedIn and check out these resources for creating content of your own.

ArtoftheaskMake sure to download our free guide, The Art of the Ask: How to Overcome the Fear of Asking for Referrals.

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