Online Reviews Can be Your Best Marketing Tool

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Embracing and encouraging online reviews from customers can be your best marketing tool. There is a great deal of research, studies, and proof that online reviews are good for business. If you fear that online reviewers only comment when they are unhappy, think again; most reviews are positive. The reason that online reviews have become so popular is because online shoppers believe online reviews over other advertising and trust reviews from strangers almost as much as a personal recommendation. Today we will explore why online reviews can boost sales, how to increase your customer reviews, and show that even negative reviews can help your business.

Why Online Reviews are Good for Your Business

There are many studies that show that customer reviews increase sales. One study shows that online consumer reviews are relied upon by 84% of Americans. Another report about customer reviews driving online sales states that 63% of shoppers are more likely to purchase from a site that has online reviews. In addition, reviews from other consumers are trusted almost 12 times more than the product descriptions. Besides the increase in sales, there are other benefits reported from companies that have online reviews from previous customers. The additional benefits of reviews include:
• Boost in search engine rankings from keyword rich user generated content.
• Reduction in returns because shoppers are more informed about products before making a purchase. Online reviews actually guide consumers to making a better, more informed purchasing decision.
• Online reviews often mention other products, so they introduce related products to your customers that might not have read about them other than in the reviews.
• Allow you to receive instant feedback and fix any issues before they become major problems.
• Online reviews often turn into offline word of mouth reviews when people start talking about what they read about your company.
• Reviews build trust among your customer base.
• Help you define better descriptions of your products or services.
• Finally, one of the best things about hosting online reviews is that it is considerably less expensive than other forms of advertising that could not convert as well as the reviews do. Online customer reviews on other sites are completely free and do not cost your business anything.

How to Increase Your Customer Reviews

Ask and you shall receive. This goes for reviews too. Simply sending a follow up email to your customers after their product was delivered or services rendered can increase reviews dramatically. Sending them a friendly email wishing them well and asking how their experience was is an excellent way to encourage reviews. Experiment with the technique that works best for you. In some cases offering a discount on future orders might increase reviews; in some cases just asking for their opinion is important. You can also try variables with text indicating how easy or quick it can be to leave a review. You will find that many people just like to give their opinion and will leave a review for you.

Having reviews on your own website is better than relying on outside review options, but both will help. When it comes to where customers look for reviews, the most popular sources are company websites (71%), online rating systems (57%), and government/consumer advocacy sites (54%). Reviews on your own website have a better impact on sales because your visitors do not have to leave your website to search for the reviews of your products or services. Once they leave your site, getting them back can be a challenge, so incorporating reviews into your shopping cart platform or adding a widget is your best bet. In one case study, a customer review widget increased e-commerce sales over 58%.

5 Ways Negative Reviews can be a Positive Sales Influence

1. Having a mixture of negative reviews along with your positive reviews makes your company seem real and builds credibility and authenticity. If all of the reviews were positive, readers will deem them to be faked. Shoppers know that no one is perfect.

2. Negative reviews can alert you to a problem with a particular product or with customer service staff. You can then respond by fixing or improving a product or discontinuing it. Make sure to let the reviewer know that based on their review, you have taken action. The same goes for customer service issues. Make sure that you address any customer service issues so that all divisions of your company are providing an excellent customer experience.

3. Show customers that your company cares and that your company fixes problems. In many cases, when readers see that you cared enough to professionally respond and find a solution to another customer’s problem, it is worth more than a positive review. When customers are armed with the knowledge that “just in case” something does go wrong, your company works things out and fixes them, they can feel even more confident in placing their trust with you and giving you their business.

4. One reviewer’s opinion or perception of something being “bad” may not be bad to all of the potential customers reading it. Other consumers can spot a “picky” person or the “complainer”. In many cases, your customer evangelists will often stick up for you, turning one person’s bad review into a positive review.

5. Research shows that all reviews in general, even bad reviews, increase sales.

Eric Thomas
BrandMe
Eric Thomas is blogger and Brand Manager for BrandMe Promotional Gifts. He enjoys sharing marketing and business tips.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Good article Eric. There is now a pretty well established body of evidence that reviews are a net positive in B2C – in retail as well as services.

    The concept of customer reviews is now making it’s way to B2B – business to business purchasing. The nuance is that many B2B purchases are more complex, considered purchases, and the use case for technology in particular from one company to another can be very different.

    At TrustRadius (www.trustradius.com), we are building a site that enables professionals to share intelligence with each other about business software. We’re adapting many of the principles of the consumer review model, but focusing on in-depth insights from principal/ expert product users who can provide insights to help others make better product selection, implementation and ultimately usage decisions.

  2. Great article! I use http://www.ITCentralStation.com for reviews of enterprise tech such as products from Oracle, IBM, and SAP. I appreciate the fact that they use LinkedIn to validate the identity of reviewers – that way I can be sure that 100% of the reviews are authentic. No fake reviews like you read on Yelp or TripAdvisor.

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