Since the advent of the internet — particularly since social media’s rise in popularity and subsequent takeover of the global Zeitgeist — people have been sharing their honest opinions about businesses online. Every business wants people talking positively about them, and as an entrepreneur, encouraging customer reviews can be an excellent way to increase sales.
With the meteoric rise in online shopping, businesses large and small have had to devise new ways to reach customers and engage with them. According to statistics, 93% of shoppers read reviews and consider them before purchasing a product.
For businesses, it should come as no surprise that people want reassurance before they spend money on a product or service. With the immense trust placed in online reviews, businesses should seriously consider their online presence regarding customer reviews, as well as their responses to those reviews.
Proof Drives Purchases
The number of shoppers who read and consider reviews online is staggering, meaning that there is strong evidence to suggest that positive reviews and thoughtful responses drive an increase in purchases. Consumers like to know that there is support for their decisions and that others agree with those decisions. Simply put, people care what others think, and are far more likely to make a purchase if others think it’s a good idea or adds value — even if those people are complete strangers.
Online reputation matters in business, and customers’ reviews play into this reputation. Customer reviews are a large part of social proof, and they play a big role in the overall reputation of a business. Social proof adds credibility to customers’ claims of value and success. A company can claim to be the best, but at the end of the day, when everyone on the internet seems to agree (or disagree), that perception can make or break the company’s ability to reach new customers and grow successfully.
Algorithms Will Love Your Brand
Driving customer reviews to your business is also SEO- and algorithm-friendly. For instance, 60% of shoppers begin their product research journey online, and their first stop is typically Google.
Customer reviews help fuel Google’s search engine and the content that appears in results, encouraging favorable rankings for your item, service, or brand. The more attention your brand receives via customer reviews, the better it can ride the wave of Google’s ever-changing algorithms. The higher your brand or business is ranked, the more authority it has through Google’s algorithmic ranking system.
When and Where to Ask for Reviews
So, how does a business get these reviews without being perceived as too pushy or desperate? Studies show that brands who ask for reviews have a higher chance of getting 5-star ratings than those who rely solely on unprompted customer feedback. Customers are more likely to take to the internet to give their opinion unprompted when they are upset about something. However, if you know you have happy customers, asking for feedback — both reactively and proactively — can help you get that collection of 5-star reviews that all brands crave.
Businesses can also ask for reviews via email once the transaction is completed, or after the item has already been purchased. According to research, as much as 70% of reviews are prompted from post-transactional emails. An email list can be a lifeline for businesses looking to engage with customers and build their brand.
Review requests should be short, to the point, and courteous to the customer. Reviews can also be sent via text or social media message.
In any case, requests for reviews shouldn’t wait. You want your happy customers or clients to have their positive experience with your brand fresh in their minds when the time comes for them to leave a review. You can even have customers review their experience immediately after purchasing your product.
Responding to Reviews
How you respond to a review is essential and can spell the difference between a returning customer and a lost customer. More and more, customers expect responses to their feedback from companies they purchase from. Businesses have the opportunity, especially with social media, to speak directly to their customers that are leaving reviews. Responses can either go very well, or, as we have seen through viral posts repeatedly, very badly.
When a negative review does crop up, businesses should respond thoughtfully. Some programs can immediately respond to any review, letting the customer know that their review has been received and is being addressed. However, a personal response can go a long way towards retaining customers and building trust and loyalty. Remember that arguing with customers or responding harshly to negative feedback they provide in a public forum won’t put your business in a favorable light.
Nearly half of all shoppers say they trust customer reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends and family. When businesses want to create a trusted brand that spurs customer loyalty, reviews can be their “ace in the hole.” Going after positive reviews can help a business thrive and drive a significant increase in sales.
For consumers, the human desire for support of their purchasing decisions will never go away. To ensure you don’t miss out on opportunities to increase revenue or brand-building, businesses should go after those reviews and make them a larger component of their overall marketing efforts.