As a business, you put time and thought into your website because you know potential buying decisions are influenced by its layout and call-to-action. You may even spend thousands of dollars in advertising because you know you can use that to influence a target market. While these are fine marketing initiatives, there’s a small (and free!) forum that holds great influence over how people perceive your business: online reviews. How much time and thought have you put into those lately?
An online review is essentially a word-of-mouth recommendation for or against your business. It’s a digital record of what people are saying about you, your products, or your services. And the worst thing you can do is ignore them. Why? Because they wield a surprisingly strong influence on potential customers.
A 2017 consumer review survey revealed that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. As trust in traditional marketing messages wanes, consumers are trusting each other more than ever. This further underscores the importance of collecting and managing online reviews.
A common misconception about online reviews is that the business has no control over them. After all, reviews are composed by customers, not the marketing team. There’s no guarantee what a customer will write online. But that is no reason to throw your hands up in despair. By cultivating a positive customer experience and inviting customers to share their experiences online, you can make a push for positive reviews.
What happens when the reviews aren’t positive? It’s true – you can’t please everyone. But it’s important for businesses to remember that the influence of a review doesn’t stop at the negative comment. The manner and timeliness in which your business responds can shape a potential customer’s view of your business just as much as a positive review. In fact, studies have shown that customers become skeptical of brands that only have good reviews. Statistics show that 67% of buyers trust brands more when they see both good and bad reviews.
In addition to forming public opinion, online reviews also play an important role in SEO. In fact, Google lists online reviews as one of the factors that influences their local ranking algorithm. Here’s what they recommend:
“Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business. High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location. Encourage customers to leave feedback by creating a link they can click to write reviews.”
That said, reviews don’t only exist on major platforms like Google. The rise of social media has also played a role in the prominence of online reviews. Instead of following a typical format, reviews can also be shared in tweets, status updates, and photo captions. It’s important not to ignore the power of these types of organic reviews as well!
So how can your business leverage the power of positive reviews? Try these tips:
- Request online reviews soon after a transaction — especially if you’ve just delivered a project to a happy client or solved a problem for a customer.
- Highlight customer testimonials on your website, social media platforms, and in email marketing.
- If you’re a part of an association, use those logos or badges on your website to establish credibility.
- Engage with customers who leave online reviews by thanking them for their feedback and providing great customer service.