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This post is the latest in our “Word of Mouth” series. It’s our editorial focus for the month of February, including topics like reputation management, and reviews optimization. See the rest of the series here

Word of mouth is one of the biggest influencers for consumers’ local purchase decisions. That universal truth has sustained decades of localized marketing, though it continues to take different forms. And the most prevalent manifestation of capturing customer sentiment today is online reviews.

Considering the level of influence that online reviews can have on any given business, it’s become increasingly important to optimize them in various ways. How is that done? There are lots of tactical ins and outs we highlight on the latest episode of the Heard on the Street Podcast. This week, we’re featuring the audio feed from our recent panel discussion at the Street Fight Summit.

For one, the importance and impact of reviews depend largely on the type of business. For UPS, customer reviews—such as a consumer receiving a package—isn’t as important as the company’s relationship with its direct customer, which is the entity doing the shipping. Conversely, consumer reviews are hugely impactful for TripAdvisor, which has reviews for 4.5 million restaurants and is building an arsenal of reviews content outside of the typical context of “travel.”

There’s also the utility of the review for local businesses or multi-location brands. In addition to the obvious marketing impact of bringing more consumers in the door, reviews generate valuable business-facing sentiment data. That can be used in ongoing product positioning or other strategic planning, says Brandify VP of product marketing Damian Rollison—especially with companies like HappyOrNot, which provide a structured and binary review metric for businesses.

“The difference between a service like TripAdvisor and a service like HappyOrNot is that TripAdvisor’s main consumer of its content is other consumers who read reviews in order to make informed purchase decisions,” said Rollison from the stage. “Whereas with HappyOrNot, you guys are training your sights on giving the brand insights into what consumers think about them, so it’s a little bit more of a survey modeler or an NPS model.”

Check out the full episode above, which also includes lots of tactical discussions about what’s working and not working in helping local businesses optimize their online reviews.

Find out more about Heard on the Street here, and stay tuned for episodes every two weeks.

Mike Boland is Street Fight’s lead analyst, author of the Road Map column, and producer of the Heard on the Street podcast. He covers AR & VR as chief analyst of ARtillry Intelligence and SF President of the VR/AR Association. He has been an analyst in the local space since 2005, covering mobile, social, and emerging tech.

Mike Boland has been a tech & media analyst for the past two decades, specifically covering mobile, local, and emerging technologies. He has written for Street Fight since 2011. More can be seen at