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The unknown can be intimidating. You come across a business, you think it’s interesting, but you’re not 100% sure how it can help you so you move on.

Maybe you do run a great business with loyal customers who love you. Maybe they’re constantly suggesting new features, spreading positive word of mouth and purchasing more and more of your product.

These customers should be able to communicate how awesome your business is – otherwise other, potential customers are going to wonder what could be wrong with you (even if there’s nothing wrong at all!)

These days, the positive ripple effect of reviews can’t be ignored. Reviews are more than an attention grabber – readers can understand what it’s like to use your product in just a few sentences.

Yet as business owners and marketers, we want all or nothing. We want to see glowing, 5-star reviews, especially on third-party sites. Yet those honest 3 and 4 star reviews are what gets read and what is being listened to and taken seriously.

Nudging the fence sitters

With so many potential and current customers seeking out information about a product or a company’s strengths and weaknesses, it is important to know how to use those customer-generated reviews to your advantage.

Leaving Praise

For example, in Helprace you can get a snapshot of customer satisfaction by simply allowing customers to leave praise right on your website.

Online reviews are one of the most important and effective digital marketing techniques in your company’s toolbox. As with any of your marketing efforts, it is equally important to know the benefits as well as the costs of your online marketing activities.

Why customers care about online reviews

Those who come across your company seek out up-to-date, unbiased information about what it’s like to use your product. Existing customers offer a source of value that are prospective customers seek – unbiased and realistic. But how does that influence the behavior of potential customers?

The Incyte research discovered that there are six fundamental buying behaviors that showcase the importance of customer reviews.

  • Some of us ask for help. Others take initiative.
    28% of all customers read reviews while the other 28% are willing to write them – that is regardless of product, industry or customer type.
  • Aside from listening and sharing, we are also judgmental.
    Over 50% of consumers judge businesses based on reviews and others’ experiences. They do it before or without ever reading further into the company.
  • People seek out reviews every single day.
    Over 60% of people actively search for reviews online. This number is even higher in the hospitality industry – people prefer to read reviews before they visit a restaurant, hotel or attraction.
  • Most effective ratings are 4, 3, 5 and then 2.
    Not only that, over 30% of users assume reviews are fake if there are no negative reviews. Customers are interested in user experiences that point out product shortcomings.
  • People prefer to interact with one another in an open environment.
    This can be on a company’s website. If a company doesn’t offer this, customers will seek out other social media platforms such as Google, Facebook, Quora, and Reddit.
  • After reading a review, people immediately go to the company’s website.
    This isn’t surprising – after getting objective information, customers are intrigued to find out more, particularly product capabilities/offerings they may have missed.

Customer Reviews

At the very least, reviews add credibility to a brand. Most of the time, this type of credibility is difficult to establish without a stream of authentic feedback in your support funnel. This is where a review gathering or “fishing” strategy becomes important. Here’s why you might want to implement:

  • Asking for reviews is relationship-building and shows trust.
    Essentially, you’re telling customers “I trust you to speak your mind and say whatever you want about me”. Regardless of whether it’s good or bad.
  • You don’t need a lot of reviews to start sounding credible.
    An average of 5 reviews are necessary for people to believe that they can trust a business. Others need a few more reviews, but buyer confidence does not increase as the number of reviews rise.
  • Reviews lessen your support burden.
    User reviews deflect support tickets and chat queries. Incentivizing reviews takes the weight off your online marketing efforts.

How online reviews help with SEO

Google weighs in external discussions about your product or site when coming up with search results. So the more text there is about your business, the higher it will be ranked on Google, Yahoo, etc. This means more organic traffic to your business website.

  • Quantity
    More is definitely better when standing out from your competitors is the goal. More mentions on high-authority review sites means more importance placed on your site by search engines.
  • Quality
    Customers want to know as much about you, your product and customers service as possible. They want to know how your product performs under different conditions. They’re also learning to spot fake reviews (search engines are getting a hang of this, too).
  • Diversity
    When you list both good and bad reviews, your profile becomes more honest. And to avoid looking suspicious in the eyes of your customers (and Google’s evolving algorithms), you need to encourage everyone to leave their two cents.

What about collecting reviews?

Here are three foolproof ways to gather more customer reviews:

  • Cold call your customers asking them politely to send a review, follow up with an email. Remember, most customers you contact will leave a review if asked!
  • Email customers asking them to leave a review. Offer them a discount or give them a freebie for leaving a review – lots of thank you ideas you could use from our earlier blog post.
  • Link to reviews on your website, app dashboard, in-app notifications or billing page with tracking links.

What happens when you get a bad review?

Sometimes there’s absolutely nothing you can do about a bad review. For every ten happy customers, you’ll always have someone with something negative to say about you. At the same time, a bad review can be a rare window into the customer’s perspective and point of view.

A bad review can uncover customer obstacles and objections to your product. It can uncover reasons why it couldn’t live up to their expectations. It can also present an opportunity for dialogue to rectify the problem.

If you engage in a public discussion to turn a negative experience around, that’s not just one customer retained – that’s dozens of people who think favorably of your business, and an infinite possibility of potential customers.

This post was originally published on the Helprace Blog.