The Importance Of Customer Reviews And How To Get More Of Them

customer-reviews

The Importance Of Customer Reviews And How To Get More Of Them

What others have to say about your business will always be significantly more valuable than what you have to say about it. Consumers are looking for objectivity, and they can find this in consumer reviews left by purchasers of your products and services.

These days’ consumers are very tech savvy and they will spend more time than they ever did before researching about a product or a service online before they will make a purchase decision. Most consumers rely upon the views of real customers through online reviews.

If a potential customer knows nothing about your business they will look for ways to trust you. You may very well supply the highest quality products or offer the best services but the consumer doesn’t know that if they have never done business with you before.

Positive online reviews go a long way to prove your claims and will enhance your brand. These reviews are very valuable and should be treated like gold. Always respond to good and bad reviews to show that you really care. Customer service is everything.

Online reviews will often help by answering questions that a consumer will have prior to purchase. Does your product do X, Y and Z? This saves the consumer from having to contact your customer service support people and many times this will just convince them to make a purchase.

Research continues to indicate that people looking to make a purchase will trust reviews from peers much more than any other source. A good example of this can be found on Amazon and the popular travel review site Trip Advisor.

You have to take this on board. You need to know what your customer base thinks about your business and you then need to engage with these people on a daily basis. If you don’t do this you will face stiff competition from those businesses that do.

Your customers will really appreciate the fact that they have a voice and this will increase loyalty. The first step is to allow customers to leave a review on your site. Giving them this option to leave a review or not will always be appreciated and make you appear more transparent. In our recent study of the top 50 ecommerce stores, 52% showed reviews on their category pages.

You want to do everything that you can to improve consumer engagement with your business. Online reviews can do this and quite often these pages develop into a mini social community which can really help the users form an attachment with your business. Just look at the conversations and community Wiggle has built on it’s platform.

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Online reviews can really help with your marketing too. Treat them as micro marketing campaigns that are always working for you by creating an unbiased positive image of your company and its products and services.

Once reviews start coming they will not stop. It will encourage other users to leave a review as well. The appearance of a large number of reviews on your pages will inspire confidence in new customers to leave their own feedback about their experiences with your business.

Combine Reviews With Good Product Or Service Descriptions

You need a good combination of descriptions and images as well as reviews on your pages. Potential buyers will want to fully understand what they are buying through the description and will be swayed to make the purchase by the user reviews.

One is not more important as the other. They are both important. Good descriptions and images should be a given, and encouraging consumer reviews is equally important. You will make more sales with positive user reviews.

Online Reviews Lead To Increased Consumer Loyalty

It is well known that the companies that have the highest customer loyalty will typically grow their revenues at over twice the rate of their competitors.

200 Fortune 500 companies were surveyed and it was found that a 1% increase in customer satisfaction increased the company’s value by approximately $275 million.

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Reviews are so important and this was underlined by a survey conducted by Dimensional Research. They discovered that 90% of the respondents who remembered reading online reviews stated that this influenced their buying decisions.

The reverse is also true. If a product or service has a lot of negative reviews then 86% said that this would definitely influence their decision not to make a purchase.  The survey was conducted in 2013 and sponsored by Zendesk.

The survey was aimed at United States residents that had experienced a customer service issue with a company of midsize. There were over 1000 respondents and around two thirds of them stated that they read online reviews.

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Facebook was found to be the top resource for positive reviews and online review sites the top resource for negative reviews.

Setting up a business page on Facebook is now important as ever! It is also a great resource for reviews.

Customer service was also highlighted in this survey. Around 72% of the respondents felt that having to explain the same problem to many different people was the biggest contributor to a bad customer service interaction.

This was taken a step further by respondents saying that they had become more frustrated over the way that customer service issues were being handled. 58% of them said that they were more likely to share bad experiences today than they were five years ago using online reviews and social media to do this.

The survey concluded that customer service was critical to revenue generation and that it has a long lasting impact on consumer loyalty. Customer service was the number one reason why a consumer would trust a company. No surprise there.

It is imperative for companies of all sizes to react quickly to customer service issues as this creates a much improved customer experience. Service departments should work more closely with marketing to send out the right messages to customers on social media.

Consumer Reviews Are Important For Local Business Too

A 2014 survey by BrightLocal revealed more interesting evidence about the power of online reviews. There were over 2100 respondents to the survey and 90% of them were USA residents with the final 10% living in Canada.

The survey looked at how much influence online reviews have on consumer’s dealings with local businesses. A similar survey was conducted in 2013 and it was found that there had been some significant changes.

In 2014 88% of the respondents said that they read reviews to determine local business quality and this was up from 85% in 2013. It was also discovered in 2014 that 39% read reviews regularly (opposed to 32% in 2013) and in 2014 only 12% do not read reviews compared with 15% in 2013.

Another interesting part of the survey concerned how many reviews customers were prepared to read. In 2014 85% of the respondents said that they read up to 10 reviews which was down from 92% in 2013.

Also down from 77% in 2013 was the number of respondents who read up to 6 reviews. This was recorded at 67% in 2014. There was a surprising jump in the numbers that read more than 20 reviews. This was 7% in 2014 compared with 2% in 2013.

Another area of interest was the comparison of reviews to personal recommendations. In 2014 there was an increase to 88% of people that said that they trusted online reviews the same as they would personal recommendations. This was up from 79% the previous year.

There is a clear message here. If you want more customers then you need at least 10 positive reviews if you run a local business. Some of these reviews need to be fresh as well as people can spot old reviews and can dismiss them.

Local business owners have a lot to gain from positive online reviews. It also matters if these appear on third party sites such as Yelp or Trip Advisor or their own site. Around 69% of people will search the third party sites for reviews about a local business.

People know that these days they can find real reviews online about almost anything. They are a very powerful source of information and have a major influence on consumer buying behaviour and ongoing loyalty.

Webrepublics infographic shows a strong correlation between positive online reviews and the number of sales. You shouldn’t be surprised by this as it is really obvious. If you have positive reviews for your products then you are 200% more likely to sell them than if you have no reviews.

Only 28% of United States citizens will bother to write reviews but a staggering 84% of potential customers for a local business will read them. If a product or service is reviewed by an expert or celebrity, these are trusted a lot less than random reviews from customers.

Purchases of local business products and services are heavily influenced by reviews. Most people will read between 4 and 6 reviews before they will trust a local business. Around 30% of positive reviews are deemed fakes by consumers.

Most People Don’t Complain

A study showed that only 4% of the customers that were dissatisfied with a business take the trouble to complain to them. Where many companies feel that their customer service is impeccable, only a small amount of customers tend to agree with this.

Those that didn’t complain directly to the company are likely to vent their dissatisfaction by telling friends and family members. The number of people that they tell about this tends to be directly related to how bad the experience was. Not having this feedback is not a good thing.

It is estimated that a satisfied customer will tell 15 people about their good customer service experience whereas if they have had a bad experience they will tell around 24 people. The old adage that “bad news travels fast” really applies here.

You should consider negative reviews as very important information for your business. They are highlighting a problem that you need to address fast. It could be anything from a product quality issue or the attitude of your staff.

It is not a bad thing to have a mixture of positive and negative reviews. It is important, however, to have more positives than negatives. Very few people will believe that a product or service is perfect and the odd negative review will add credibility to this.

This is borne out by the fact that products that have a 4.5 star rating sell three times as much as those with a 5 star rating. Around 72% of people will consider purchasing a product with just a 3 star rating but only 27% will buy a product or service with a 2 star rating.

Online Reviews Bring SEO Benefits

Google and the other major search engines are always looking for fresh, unique content on your pages. If your pages are full of user reviews then this will be lapped up by the search engine spiders and the chances of these pages being ranked highly is greatly increased.

Google wants you to make your pages more informative to customers and will always reward sites that have user reviews with higher rankings than sites that do not have them. Why do you think that Amazon is on the first page of Google for just about every product under the sun?

A lot of searches will actually use the term “review” in their search. It is very important to rank high for the products that you sell with the word review at the end. This traffic converts very well as the searches are at the buying phase. They are known as “buying keywords”.

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If you have an ecommerce site then it is likely that there will be some duplication of content when it comes to product descriptions. Duplicate content is unlikely to rank and you can distinguish your site with unique customer reviews.

If you sell products and show images with user review stars connected to them these will really stand out from other products that are displayed in search engine results. The CTR will be greatly improved against product images that do not have any starred ratings.

It is possible to rank for a lot of long tail keywords as well through the reviews that users leave on your site. If a user searches for “does product X do something specific” and that something specific has been highlighted in one of your reviews then you will have a good chance of ranking for that term.

Below you can see an example of this, when searching for a specific question about a canon printer 2 of the top 3 results are Amazon Question and Answers.

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You want to ensure that all of your reviews can be read easily by search engine spiders and that they are presented as plain HTML. Avoid anything that masks this such as JavaScript or iFrames. It is important to get your reviews indexed so that you will receive the SEO benefits from this.

How You Can Get Customer Reviews

Now you know why customer reviews are so important it is time to get some. If you have already received some reviews then it is always good to have more! Remember when using the strategies below that not everybody will leave a review. That’s fine.

Just Ask For That Review

The easiest way to get a review is to ask. If you have a business where customers physically visit then ask them if they would provide you with a review. You can have a “review book” where they will enter the details or you can even provide them with a laptop or tablet open at the right page to write a review.

It is surprising how many businesses never ask for a review. You really cannot have too many positive reviews. There are many ways that you can ask from picking up the phone to using your website to prompt them. If they don’t want to leave a review then don’t keep pushing them.

Take Action: Go back to your last 5 clients and send each one a customised email requesting a review. Try out different styles of emails and see what gets the best response. You can use a template like this to get started:

Hi [CUSTOMER NAME],

Thanks for choosing [YOUR BUSINESS NAME]

Your feedback is important to us, so we’d like to ask a quick favour.

We would really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to post a positive review on [THE PLATFORM YOU WANT YOUR REVIEW TO BE POSTED]

Thanks so much for your support!

[YOUR NAME]

Set Up Profiles On Directory Sites

If you have a local business then you want to have profiles on all of the related organic review sites. You can use a service like Moz Local to help with this. A lot of consumers trust the reviews placed on third party sites such as Yelp more than they would a review on your own site.

Take Action: Either sign up to Moz Local or follow the steps below to DIY:

  1. Find out where your competitors are listed, this will usually give you a good place to start. Search for your top 3 competitors in Google with the following string [COMPETITOR NAME + Review]. Make a note of all the 3rd party websites they are listed in the top 10 results. Do this for each competitor, remember the more competitors you research the more comprehensive your list will be.
  2. You should see a trend developing on which 3rd party sites your competitors are listed on. You can sign up to as many as you wish but concentrate on the 5 most popular sites if you are low on time.
  3. Complete your profiles for each review site and then start including links in your review requests to clients.

Get The Email Address Of All Of Your Customers

It is always a good idea to get the email addresses of your customers whether you have an offline or online business. The ability to send customers emails has many benefits such as inviting them back, telling them about new products and asking them for a review of your business.

You can even use an auto responder service such as Mailchimp to do this. You can set up automated emails that go out every time a customer makes a purchase. These emails should always ask the customer for a review.

Take Action:

Sign up to Mailchimp and complete your profile.

Create an autoresponder

Create A Focus Group For New Products

If you have a new product that you are intending to launch then you can bring together a focus group to review the product and provide you with valuable feedback. You can publish this feedback and it will act as good initial testimonials for your new product.

Take Action: Read our guide on how to setup a focus group for your next product or service.

Run A Customer Opinion Poll

You can request customer feedback in the form of a poll. This is good for conducting comparisons with how well you deliver compared to others in your market. Customer opinion polls are not used enough these days. Make them easy to use and people will share their opinions.

Customer opinion polls are fairly easy to set up on your website. There are a number of commercially available products that will enable you to do this. Hotjar is probably my favourite tool for embedding surveys on your site. It’s got a wealth of other features too such as visitor recording, heatmaps and analytics.

Take Action: Read our guide on setting up Polls on your site.

Use Incentives But Be Careful

Providing incentives to gain customer reviews is something that some will advise you not to do. But it can work well if it is managed properly. What you don’t want to do is to give the customer the impression that you are trying to bribe them to leave a review.

Tell the customer that you appreciate they are busy and that you will provide a small reward to them for taking the time out to write a review. This could be coupons for future purchases or any other form of discount.

The thing here is to be sincere and not come across as desperate. It is a win-win situation for you because not only will the customer write you a review, but they will come back and spend more money with you because you provided them with a future purchase discount.

Add The Capability To Leave Reviews On Your Website

Make sure that your site has the ability to accept and publish online reviews. There are many solutions out there, but you need to ensure that the reviews can be read by search engines once they are published.

Also make sure that the process is very easy for the customers. Don’t subject them to dozens of questions before they can leave their review. You will lose most of them if you do this. If they don’t want to leave their name then don’t make them.

Provide links to all of the third party review sites that you have a profile on as the customer may prefer to leave their review there. It is just a matter of providing a few links on your site and you are providing the customer with the choice which will always be appreciated.

When you ask your customer for a review show them some examples that others have left. They will not copy them but it will provide them with some inspiration to write their review. It is not always an easy thing to do so give them as much help as possible.

Ask Them To Write Reviews On Different Sites

Not everyone is going to go for this but if they left you a review on Yelp or even your own website then ask them politely if they will write you a similar review on other external sites. A few people will agree to do this and it will really spread the word for you.

Help Them To Leave A Video Review

A video review is a lot more powerful than a standard text based review. You can request that your customer make a video using the camera in their mobile device or laptop and then save it and send it to you.

You can ask them if they would allow you to publish their video review on YouTube. If they agree then you can embed the video into your website and receive a link from an authority site at the same time. A lot of your customers will be delighted to see themselves on YouTube too.

Spotlight The Customer

Most of your customers will appreciate being the centre of attention, so when you do receive reviews from them ask if you can use them on social media and the homepage (or other important pages) of your website. It is pretty likely that they will agree to do this.

When attempting to get a video review this is a good incentive. Tell your customers that if they take the time and trouble to leave a video review they will definitely appear on a prestigious page of your site and/or on your Facebook page.

Give them as many reasons to talk about you as possible. If their video is on your home page then they will tell their friends and family about it. The same thing goes for YouTube and Facebook. Spotlight your customer and they will tell everybody about it.

Leverage The Relationship With Your Reviewers

Getting positive reviews is what you want but consider taking this a step further. The customers that leave the best reviews give up a lot of their personal time to do this.

Could you make them brand ambassadors who will star in your next promotional video? Yes you could, and a number of them would love it! If a video is out of the question why not ask to build a case study of them that can be featured on your site and promotional campaigns.

Take Action: Contact 5 of your most positive reviews received this year and ask if they would like to be included in a future case study.

Product Inserts

If you sell products and then ship to your customers add an insert into the product asking them to leave a review. You can add an incentive here too. This is a very good time to ask for a review as the customer has just received your product.

Give Them A Free Trial

You can get more customers, and reviews, by offering free trials of a product or service. It gets people talking and this is exactly what you want.

Create A Review Process And Follow It

There are many ways to obtain reviews and you should create a process that reminds customers to leave a review for you whenever they come into contact with your business. Of course there will be exceptions to this.

If you have just received an email complaining of poor service or a letter of complaint then this would not be the best time to ask for a review. Once you have successfully dealt with the complaint and the customer is happy then you can ask for a review.

Train you staff on the importance of customer reviews and create the right processes in your workflows to ensure that reviews are always requested at the appropriate times. Once this is ingrained as a system it will produce some great results for your business.

About the author

Paul Manwaring: This is where we share a thoughts, tips and research into the world of marketing, design and business. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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