Online reviews are like an extra engine that can help amp up your sales, by fostering trust in your brand, building buzz and awareness, and increasing leads.
Make no mistake, your existing customers are your best sales reps and marketers. Their recommendations are as important and impactful, if not more, than much of your other offline and online marketing.
In fact, the real-world recommendations of friends and family are trusted far and above any other type of online marketing and advertising your business might develop. In the absence of such close and trusted recommendations, 85% of consumers put their faith in online reviews as much as those personal recommendations.
Satisfied customers that will evangelize for your business in the form of online reviews will be your most effective and reliable means of building trust and faith in your products or services. And especially in the age of social media, that trust- and faith-building can happen lightening fast. (To be sure, negative online reviews can spread just as fast — we’ll get to handling those later on.)
According to the Speigel Research Centre, products with reviews are a whopping 270% more likely to be bought than a product without. For a bigger ticket item, this likelihood increases to 380%. Statistics like these explain why online reviews have become such an invaluable marketing asset for businesses of all sizes.
Reviews are an established and growing method of customer engagement with significant returns.
The power of online reviews is undeniable. They have the ability to not only influence customer decisions, but to strengthen business credibility and foster vital customer trust.
Online reviews provide an opportunity for businesses and customers to build a relationship with one another and are a proven method of customer engagement.
Accumulating positive reviews puts your business in the position of better influencing a purchase decision in your favour – leading to more leads and, ultimately, increased sales and profits for your business.
What can online reviews do for your online reputation?
The importance of online reviews is only expected to grow in the coming years. More and more internet users are onto the fact that reviews are better – more reliable and more accurate – than advertisements, newsletters, and the variety of other marketing strategies deployed by most businesses.
The opinion of someone who’s tried a product or service and is willing to share his or her experience is ultimately going to carry more weight than most other less personal approaches.
Here are just a few of the many reasons encouraging online reviews is so critical:
Reviews Build Credibility
It’s easier than ever to conduct thorough research into any business, good, or service before committing your hard-earned dollars. Remember, most consumers trust online reviews as much as the personal recommendation of a friend.
Your prospective customer will look to review sites (Google and Yelp, for instance) to gain a better understanding of your business, so the more positive reviews you can provide them, the better.
The trust instilled through a collection of positive reviews is invaluable, particularly as you’re working hard to establish your reputation as a leader in your market.
Good Reviews Boost Search Rankings
To increase the likelihood your business will appear in online searches, you need to have effective SEO (search engine optimization) tactics in place. Online reviews impact SEO significantly, as they can influence where a business falls within search rankings. For example, Google gathers review information from several sites to determine where a company will appear in results. Sites like Yelp and Facebook determine a business’s ranking based on overall rating and number of reviews.
Reviews Help Connect Your Business with Your Customers
If you want to stand out from the competitors in your industry or region, finding different ways to connect with existing and prospective customers, reviews offer you an effective and compelling means to do it.
When a customer leaves a review, this is an opportunity to interact with them and further develop that relationship. Responding to reviews helps to establish your credibility with others who read the reviews and your responses.
And every review should get a reply from your business — either a hearty “Thanks!” or, if the review was negative, by apologizing for the reviewer’s experience and inviting them to communicate with you further offline. That’s important — people researching your brand will pay as close attention to your replies as they do the original reviews.
Additionally, engaging through reviews allows you to discover and explore any issues customers might encounter with your business – issues you may not have even known existed. For instance, a customer might comment regarding a problem or challenge, allowing you to provide a solution in short order, ideally turning a potentially negative comment into one that’s constructive and more positive.
Online reviews help customers learn more about your business so that in the future they turn to you when they’re ready to learn more and make a purchase.
Through reviews, your customers become the real-life ambassadors of your brand and your business.
How do you get customers to write glowing online reviews that will benefit your business?
So, how to encourage your customers to become ambassadors; evangelists happy to step out publicly and promote your business through a good review? How do you identify that satisfied customer who is happy enough to share? Here are a few strategies:
Provide various channels to leave reviews. Get out ahead of your customers’ research by ensuring that, even before potential customers find your website to learn about your business, they’re able to learn about you no matter where they’re conducting online research about a potential purchase.
Choose opportune moments. Make sure you’re requesting customer reviews at the right moment in their experience with your business. Ask for customer reviews after positive moments along the customer journey, such as:
– After they experience success with your product or service
– When they re-purchase or re-order
– If they tag your brand their own social media
– If they refer another customer to you
Meet customers where they are. Make sure your request is a good fit with the channel you’d prefer your customer to write a review. If you’re sending out an email asking for a customer review, make sure the email links to exactly where they can leave their feedback. If you want reviews on your Facebook Page, send the request via Messenger.
Begin with open-ended questions. It’s best not to jump in asking directly for a customer review. Instead, start a conversation – use an open-ended question to get the ball rolling. Avoid simple “yes” or “no” questions, such as “How are you liking the product?” or “Are you going to purchase again?”. Gauge their level of satisfaction before actually asking for the review. This is helpful in two ways:
– You get more thorough and insightful customer feedback
– You avoid a potentially awkward gaff, requesting a review before learning they had a bad experience
Share positive reviews on your website and social media. As the positive reviews start coming in, highlight and share to both continue the momentum as well as inspire other satisfied customers to do likewise.
Respond to every review – including the negative. Let’s face it; nobody’s perfect. Mistakes happen, and sometimes they will result in a dissatisfied customer leaving a blistering review on Google, Facebook, or other of your channels. When faced with a negative review, be sure to take time to craft a thoughtful response – avoid knee-jerk and defensive – to explore a resolution. It will be challenging but it has the potential to help your business long term.
Ask your customer in person. A personal touch is always best. Take a conversational approach and ask them outright, ideally in person, how they’re enjoying the experience of your product or service. Can’t get together for a meeting or phone call to get their feedback? A friendly email can suffice.
READ MORE: 6 Easy Ways to Get Online Reviews for Your Business
And what about Online Employee Reviews? These require a solid strategy and ongoing attention too. Read this post for tips.
Look for Help to Manage Your Online Reputation
A positive online reputation – your business pages teeming with great reviews on a variety of websites – has never been more critical and will only grow as a powerful influence on consumer buying decisions. Conversely, businesses with fewer reviews, or worse, poor reviews and negative feedback, are going to find it increasingly difficult to appeal to online customers.
As with all online marketing, reputation management can be another challenging task in the already maxed out calendar of a business owner or manager. So, to ensure their reputations remain positive, or to repair those that have been impacted by a bad review or two, businesses can incorporate help to manage online reputations – services that employ a wide range of tactics to help ensure your online presence and standing more effectively pique the interest of consumers.
Tools such as Birdeye provide reputation management and customer experience software to help businesses transform their satisfied customers into powerful marketing engine.
Birdeye helps to encourage your customers to leave a review in many different ways – covering all bases. Text message, email, Facebook plugins, mobile kiosks inside your business and on your website, make it that much easier to reach out to customers, only enhancing your chances to collect as many great reviews as possible.
If you’re overwhelmed with the idea of adding yet another undertaking to master for your online reputation management and your online marketing, there are experienced digital marketing agencies (like Stir) who that can help your business not only develop your stream of reviews, but manage them as well.