Having easy access to the web has radically changed the way people shop for almost everything today.
From mobile phones to dental services, it’s rare to blindly make a purchase decision without reading through several online reviews. In 2016, 90% of shoppers read at least one online review before deciding to visit a business.
More importantly, 94% of online shoppers reported that a negative review has convinced them to avoid visiting a business.
But why do people read reviews in the first place?
The answer is simple: uncertainty.
People crave reassurance that they’re making the right decision, particularly when it comes to parting with their hard-earned money.
Online reviews represent real-life experiences, offering potential customers a glimpse into the quality, value, and reliability of the product or service they’re considering.
They provide a form of social proof that is much more relatable than advertising and can significantly influence purchasing decisions.
This means that whatever your industry, having a positive online presence gives you several key advantages, which is why it’s becoming a key part of branding.
Understanding why you need online reviews will help you optimize your customer experience to help create a positive online footprint. Let’s review these seven reasons why your consumers’ published experiences with your brand are vital.
1. Social Proof Drives Purchases
We’re more likely to make a purchase if others around us—even total strangers—agree that it is a good decision. Today, online customer reviews are the biggest source of social proof, and they have a clear impact on sales.
For example, Seriously Silly Socks has been able to drive 60% higher average order value on the company’s website than its other sales channels, and it’s likely that the 3000 five-star reviews that populate the ecommerce site’s various product pages have helped a great deal.
“We encourage reviews by emailing customers after purchase and offering a discount coupon in return for a completed review,” Andrew Gill, the owner of the company, recently told BigCommerce in an interview for a case study.
“This has been a major difference from the start of our journey to selling directly from our store and has reduced our reliance on shopping channels. Customer feedback creates that ‘social-proof’ trust that encourages other visitors to our store to buy.”
2. Online Reviews Make You More Visible
Being a successful brand also means you’re a visible one.
Most shoppers use search engines like Google and Bing or social media platforms like Facebook to make purchase decisions. These platforms have unique ways of indexing and surfacing content, and they value original and fresh content. Business reviews on review sites can help feed the content machine, keeping your brand favored by algorithms.
Image source: https://www.yotpo.com/blog/reviews-seo/
Online customer reviews give you a steady pipeline of(hopefully) positive content that search engines value highly when choosing which results to return.
When you’re ranked higher, algorithms and people alike tend to see your website as an authority in your industry, which also leads to more exposure.
3. Online Reviews Make You Look Trustworthy
Your brand can build significant trust and credibility from a steady stream of positive reviews.
One of the more interesting findings of recent research is just how powerful reviews are at building your company’s online identity.
Many shoppers distrust businesses that have ratings below(or even above) four stars. This leaves a small margin of error at the top, but companies with better average ratings are significantly more likely to see views converted to traffic and sales.
The way customers are talking about you is just as important as the fact that they’re saying your name. Having a highly positive footprint will eventually help you drive more sales.
4. Online Reviews Expand the Conversation About You
Very good (or bad) reviews have a way of quickly spreading.
Encouraging consumers to review your company on business review sites is an easy way to expand your brand’s reach.
When people have good things to say, they are also more likely to share their reviews on more sites, including external websites like Yelp, FourSquare, and TripAdvisor.
These hubs are vital to your online presence, as Google collects data from their sites when building its own results ranking. Even on an individual level, having positive reviews can help push further reviews.
For example, the Search Influence agency recently teamed up with GetFiveStars to reach out to patients of Houston-based orthopedic surgeon Dr. K. Mathew Warnock, generating his first 100 five-star reviews over the course of just five months.
When these reviews were published on Warnock’s site, it not only lifted his organic search traffic by 23% but also snowballed to prompt more reviews on sites like Google+, Facebook, and Healthgrades, the latter being especially important to his vertical.
Reviews on your website are always useful, but happy customers are likely to share their thoughts on as many places as possible, increasing your multi-channel footprint.
5. Online Reviews Are Increasingly Essential to Decision Making
A proactively cultivated brand is one that increases your online visibility, and today, that means encouraging several ways for people to talk about you. Social media is a great tool, but the ability for customers to talk about you on other channels is a crucial component of your presence.
Almost two-thirds of shoppers think that online reviews are an essential part of the decision-making process. When they want to know the best places to go, they’re more likely to turn to Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor than they are to a newspaper or even their friends and family.
Image Source: https://www.reviewtrackers.com/online-reviews-survey/
By focusing on creating a stream of great reviews, your brand is more likely to show up when customers are making their next shopping decision. Product reviews on the best review sites can significantly enhance your marketing efforts.
6. Online Reviews Have a Clear Impact on Sales
Case studies and theory can be misleading. Reality doesn’t always follow a logic, and there are always outliers. But there’s a growing body of benchmark data that proves that good reviews do empirically lead to increased revenue.
A study by the Harvard Business School found that online reviews can demonstrably impact your bottom line. Brands that are viewed positively have better sales, but even improving your star rating can have a positive effect on your sales.
According to the study, a one-star improvement on Yelp.com leads to a boost of 5% to 9% on sales in the short term. Even a small improvement can have a massive impact.
Image Source: https://blog.reevoo.com/ratings-reviews-landscape/
In a 2016 study, Revoo found that online reviews drive an average of 18% sales uplift, with benefits including increased conversion rates, order sizes and repeat order rates. And a landmark Berkeley study from as long ago as 2011 found that a half-star improvement for a restaurant made it 30% to 49% more likely to fill up at peak hours. If readers like what they see, they’ll show it with their wallets.
7. Online Reviews Give You An Open Line to Consumers
More than simply posting reviews, consumers today expect companies to respond to their comments.
Online customer feedback also gives you a forum to be frank with consumers and reinforce positive reviews with thanks, or promotions. More importantly, they also give you a way to quickly rectify a poor review and show that you care.
Medical company MedQuest, for instance, was able to significantly improve its review ratings and volume by improving the rate at which it responded to both negative and positive responses. The company’s review volume on Facebook soared by 163%, while it got 23% more reviews on Google.
“Our new focus on patient experience goes hand in hand with monitoring and responding to online reviews — especially any negative ones,” MedQuest’s Dave Hidding recently told Reputation.com in a case study.
The immediacy of these reviews and the personalized responses also mean that they give your brand a face. Having a friendly, open-to-feedback appearance can work wonders for your brand.
You’re Under Review
The way you market your brand is important, but having people talk about you is a great way to enhance your message.
Encouraging positive conversations about your brand is a powerful strategy to significantly enhance your marketing efforts.
How to get customer reviews?
- Speak Up, Just Ask!: Who says you can’t ask? Drop your customers a friendly email or a quick notification post-purchase or service. A little nudge can go a long way!
- Smooth Sailing: Keep it Simple: Don’t send your customers on a wild goose chase. Make the review process as easy as slicing pie by providing direct links to your review pages in your emails, on your snazzy website, and across your social media channels.
- Show Some Love: Engage with Reviews: Whether they are brimming with praise or filled with constructive feedback, respond to all reviews. This not only shows you value every piece of feedback, but it also encourages others to chip in their two cents.
- Sweeten the Deal: Offer Incentives: How about a little something for their time? Offering incentives such as discounts on future purchases can act like a carrot, enticing customers to share their experiences.
- Be Social, Leverage Social Media: Encourage your happy customers to paint the town red with their positive experiences on social media. This not only kickstarts more customer reviews, but it also increases your online visibility.
Remember, each business has its unique charm and what works wonders for one might just not strike the same chord for another. The secret sauce here is to make the review process an absolute breeze and to actively show that customer feedback is not just welcomed, it’s celebrated!