Do Customer Reviews Make A Difference and Affect Sales?
Let’s take a look at the numbers first…
- One-to-one peer recommendations, original research, and product reviews are most influential in decision making source
- 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations source
- Given two products with similar ratings, consumers are more likely to buy the product with more reviews source
- 93% of buyers are influenced in their buying decision by reviews source
- During the pandemic, 31% of consumers checked out more reviews before purchasing source
The Power Of Online Reviews
The ability to review almost any brand online has changed how consumers shop. With access to the unfiltered opinions and experiences of real customers, prospective buyers are more empowered than ever in their purchasing decisions.
When reviews are so influential in a customer’s decision, companies might be concerned by this loss of control. Traditional digital advertising allows companies to promote certain aspects of their brands in hopes of attracting a buyer; now, companies have less control over what aspects are highlighted when customers are in charge of the promotion.
Not only do reviews affect prospective buyers, but the overall reputation of your brand can be affected for better or worse. Luckily, all reviews, even negative ones, can be used to promote your brand and increase sales.
How To Harness The Power Of Reviews
Seeing how influential reviews can be in all areas of your business, there are certain steps you can take to make sure you are making the most of this power.
- Encourage customers to leave reviews often. This will give you a large selection and signal to potential buyers that you have many happy customers. The more reviews you have, even if some are mixed, signals to buyers that you are a well known and trusted brand. The honest opinions given in these reviews will prove to your buyers that you have experience in delighting customers, whereas your competition might not have as many honest opinions supporting their business.
- Use your reviews to bring in new buyers. Leads trust genuine online reviews and will appreciate seeing a variety of customer experiences and your responses. You don’t have to worry about having a spotless record. Consumers are actually more encouraged to buy from companies with 4 to 4.7 stars; as the rating gets closer to 5 stars, consumers are less likely to buy as they are more skeptical of the rating. Getting a perfect score often sounds too good to be true, but seeing mixed or even negative reviews that were responded to and handled well say more about the quality of your service than your rating.
1. Encourage Reviews
There are many ways to get customers to leave a review, but here are the top five you can initiate now.
You don’t have to jump through hoops to get customers to leave reviews. Simply asking with a message after their experience can be enough to get a quick rating from happy customers. Customers have many options for where to leave reviews, so giving them direct access to one platform (like Google My Business or Facebook) may make them more likely to write something. Encourage reviews on all channels so as to not miss out on any opportunities.
Given the option to easily leave a star rating without having to type out a review or input contact information will encourage viewers to do something for you without inconveniencing themselves. Because you don’t plan to offer the customer anything for leaving a review, make the process as easy and quick as possible.
Some platforms, particularly Facebook, can be used as a rating system. When someone searches the internet for your brand, your Facebook page will often rank high on the results page, and your rating will be made clear to viewers.
Facebook is one of the best places to encourage reviews because it is easy to keep up with and respond to customers. Keeping track of all your reviews is very important, especially negative reviews. If a customer leaves an unhappy review, address the issues and offer a solution as soon as possible.
When dealing with a negative comment, respond with a personalized message that demonstrates to the unhappy customer (as well as other readers and potential customers) that you are serious about taking responsibility for customer satisfaction.
As mentioned earlier, having a customer leave a review is a big benefit to you and requires a bit of effort from your customer. By giving customers a reason to leave a review, you are much more likely to receive them.
Offering a discount, gift, free download, or other special offer will not only increase the chances of getting more reviews, but will also encourage the customer to return to your business.
Special offers that will encourage the buyer to make another purchase are especially effective in increasing sales because it will create incentive for that buyer to become a repeat customer.
Email is one of the most popular marketing tools, and the convenience it brings to both businesses and consumers makes it a great medium for collecting reviews.
When sending an email, you have personal information about the contact that allows you to tailor content to their needs and interests. You can create email lists for new customers, recent purchasers, etc. to be used to track which contacts are best candidates for leaving reviews.
If you choose to use email to collect reviews, it is important to segment your contacts. It’s bad practice to send out emails asking for reviews to every contact, as it is likely you have many who have not recently interacted with your business and would be inappropriate candidates for reviews.
2. Utilize Reviews
Knowing the impact reviews have on consumers, it’s important to make sure leads are actually reading the reviews. There are many places you can use your reviews, but some are more effective than others.
Many viewers will experience your brand for the first time via your website. Including customer reviews on your site will speak to customers at all levels of the sales process to trust your brand.
Here, focus on the good reviews that give specific insight into your unique value offer and why consumers enjoy interacting with your company. Vague reviews that don’t highlight any reason why your brand is the right choice will not inform the viewer of much. Instead, reviews that cite certain employees, products, services, or other specific aspects of your brand will give more valuable and insightful information to readers and increase the likelihood of a sale.
Social media is often an opportunity for businesses to engage with consumers in a more casual setting. Here, back-and-forth commentary is expected, making it the ideal place to address consumers directly.
Whether good or bad, respond to reviews to show customers you genuinely appreciate their feedback. If a review is very specific, it can be better to address it offline. Contact the reviewer and offer direct lines of communication to someone who can solve the problem. Otherwise, responding with a unique message to each review will demonstrate quality customer service.
Include the individual’s name and address specific details mentioned in the review.
When your brand ranks on a results page, your Google review is most likely to appear alongside it. Google is a very popular platform for leaving reviews and is likely to be checked by potential buyers.
Having this star rating appear where your brand ranks is a great opportunity to advertise your rating, so updated SEO practices are key to advertise this rating.
Not only will SEO help show your rating, but ratings can help boost SEO. Ratings affect local SEO and can impact who finds your brand when searching the web.
When you collect reviews, especially a variety of good, bad, and neutral, you are building credibility. Google ranks sites based on credibility and authority, so seeing that your site has many visitors and unique visitors leaving reviews demonstrates that your business is what you claim it is. Additionally, this user-generated content can help with keyword searches to increase ranking and visibility.
Customer Reviews Can Impact Sales
Customer service is a key component of every business. Beyond wanting to make a sale, you always want to delight your customers. Even if a customer has an unpleasant experience with your brand, customer service is the tool to mend and continue the relationship.
By monitoring online reviews, you will have a better understanding of how your business is connecting with customers and which areas of your strategy need to change to increase customer satisfaction. By increasing satisfaction, you are building a brand identity that will promote trust and have the potential to increase sales.
Thanks for reading,
Editor’s note: This blog was originally published in September 2020 and has been edited and updated in January 2022.