These days, online reviews are critical to the success of your business. 89% of consumers worldwide reportedly read reviews before making a purchase. When you go to make a purchase or schedule an appointment with a business you are unfamiliar with, what is the first thing you do? Look it up online! You probably notice how many stars the business has, and then following that, you look to see how many reviews it has, right? What experiences have other people had with this place? Were they positive? If not, what went wrong? These pieces of information will heavily influence your next decision. Will you give this business your time and money, or not?
The age of the internet
The internet has radically changed how consumers make purchases, and how people run businesses. These days, you can find anything online with a few taps of your fingers. With social media, absolutely anyone can go online and voice their opinions. How many times have you seen a story go viral online between Facebook and Twitter? Countless times I’d guess. It takes a matter of seconds for word to spread these days. Cancel culture and social media make it so easy to make or break a business. Let’s say you had a terrible experience with an airline company. You can go on Facebook, air your grievances, and pretty soon the national news channels will be reporting about your experience. Of course this is not great for the airline in question, but you’ll help fellow travelers learn how different airlines handle different situations. The same thing goes for any business really.
It didn’t take long for businesses to catch on to social media and how powerful word-of-mouth recommendations are. Requesting online reviews has become an integral part of many marketing strategies across industries. 94% of online shoppers have reported that a negative review convinced them to avoid a business. That’s how powerful someone’s opinion or experience can be. Building up an array of positive reviews will only benefit your business. While having none or just a few won’t have the same impact as a collection of negative reviews, it doesn’t encourage consumer trust.
How to use online reviews to your advantage
The more positive reviews you have online, the more your business will stand out. Not only will a 5 star rating draw someone’s eye on a search page, but it will also boost your search ranking. Search engines are constantly reviewing and analyzing data online, so if you are frequently receiving reviews, odds are the SEO Gods will be working in your favor. If you are a Google AdWords user, you can even include a review snippet with your ad. Doing so will help your listing stand out to potential customers and allow them to compare your products and services based on first hand reviews. On top of that, many search engines allow you to filter results by ratings. The higher your rating, the closer to the top you’ll appear! The first organic result in a Google Search has an average click-through rate of 28.5%
Use your positive reviews beyond search engines and website display
If you’re looking to boost your word of mouth marketing, you probably have or are considering influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that leverages endorsements and product mentions from influencers. Influencers are individuals who have a dedicated social media following and are considered experts within their niche. These individuals have built a high level of trust with their following and are able to make recommendations that serve as a form of social proof to your businesses’ potential customers. Social proof, also called informational social influence, is the idea that people copy the actions of others in an attempt to emulate the behaviour in certain situations.
Having great reviews already built up will only help you in your quest to find influencers to endorse your brand. Influencers have a reputation they need to manage, so they are not likely to work with a brand they are unsure about. If you can approach them with authentic positive reviews off the bat, they are more likely to consider a partnership with you.
Find keywords in your online reviews
If you are invested in your online presence, you are probably following SEO best practices by utilizing strategies such as blogging, keyword research, etc. If you’re unsure what keywords you should be using to help your content reach your audience, go straight to the source! Pick out common keywords that your customers have used in their reviews, as that is how people are likely searching for the product or service you offer. Keeping track of common keywords used in reviews for your business will give you a good idea of how to target your audience and boost your search ranking.
Improve your service or product with customer feedback
Reviews from your customers that use your product or service are the best place to collect feedback. These people, your target audience, are telling you the exact things they like, dislike, or could use improving about what you offer. The people actively using your product are going to find bugs or issues before you do, and they may let you know about these things in online reviews. The sooner you find these, the sooner you can address them and improve! Similarly, you can find out what they really like and offer more of that! It can never hurt to make your happy customers even happier.
Respond to negative reviews
Unfortunately, you can’t please everyone. While you may find 9 out of 10 of your reviews are positive, odds are you’ll receive some negative feedback. It’s important that you don’t ignore these reviews in hopes they disappear. Responding to your negative reviews will show your customer base that you do care. It is quite telling when someone sees a bad review with no response from the company. Whether the company means to or not, this will show people that the company doesn’t care about a customer’s feedback or experience.
Oftentimes, an upset customer just wants to be heard. If you are able to show them that you hear them and that you want to help resolve the issue, that can sometimes be enough to appease them. Acknowledging and resolving an issue in one response or “transaction” is key to success in these situations. This is also known as “first contact resolution.” A customer that received a successful first-contact problem resolution is twice as likely to buy from a company again.
Request reviews with print marketing materials
Many businesses request reviews from their customers these days. This can be done in numerous ways, from a follow up email to a follow up postcard, etc. You can even include this request on the back of your business cards, flyers, or any print marketing material! Make sure you include a link to where you want your customer to leave the review to make it as easy as possible. You don’t need to go all out in your ask, a simple request for an honest review will suffice. Whether you print your request on a business card or a postcard, you can easily include these cards with an order, or hand it to your customer face to face depending on how they made the purchase.
In short, there are so many ways that online reviews can benefit your business. Not only can they help other potential customers find you, they can also help you improve and build off of what is already working for you.