Can online reviews really drive sales?
Online reviews have created a new form of communication that bridges the gap between a brand and its consumers through the active participation of consumers and reactive responses of brands. In an age where we have we have immediate access to almost any information at the click of a mouse, it comes as no surprise that the number of consumers participating in online reviews is increasing. The social proof provided in online reviews helps consumers cut their research time and make quicker, more confident decisions.
All statistics are sourced from Bright Local’s Local Consumer Review Survey
The stats speak for themselves – customer reviews increase conversions. They provide consumers with unbiased opinions about your products or service, giving them the information that they need to go ahead and make purchasing decisions. Consumers are much more willing to part with their money if they know that something has been recommended by somebody else. As consumers cannot physically interact with a brand, product or service whilst shopping online, reviews generated by other consumers play a key role in influencing buying decisions.
SEO benefits of online reviews
Search engines like unique and regularly updated content and online reviews are a great way to generate this content using virtually no company resources. Whether you’re selling from your own e-commerce platform or are listing your products on an online marketplace, a steady influx of SEO keywords used in online reviews will help your product pages rank more highly in search engine results.
Marketing benefits of online reviews
Positive online reviews serve as a micro-marketing campaign for your brand (and cost you nothing!). A steady stream of online reviews builds your brand’s reputation amongst existing and new customers and provides a platform for your customers to showcase their loyalty whilst providing positive feedback for other consumers.
Bad reviews aren’t always bad…
Don’t be afraid of bad reviews! Nobody likes to be told what they’re doing wrong but think of it as constructive criticism. Negative online reviews can provide you with a valuable insight into where you’re going wrong and how you can improve. Obviously, the number of good should outweigh the number of bad, but the occasional bad review may also be a good thing for the trustworthiness of your brand. A mix of positive and negative reviews provide consumers with an additional element of trust in what they’re reading.
How to encourage your customers to leave reviews
You can’t generate good reviews unless you have happy customers, so your customer’s happiness should be at the centre of everything you do. Here are some tips on how to keep your customers happy and engaged when it comes to generating online reviews:
If your customers have given you feedback, whether it is in a review or in another form, listen to it. Any issues that bothered your customers in the past are likely to bother your customers in the future; so addressing these as soon as they arise will save you from unhappy customers further down the line. Continuously striving to improve your customer’s experience will encourage them to leave reviews.
If your customers have taken the time to write a review, whether it’s good or bad, then take the time out to reply. Again, this kind of direct communication shows that you care about your customers and will help you build a rapport with your customer community. Maintaining an active presence in your customer community will encourage more customers to engage with you in the future.
Asking your customers for feedback is a great way to generate good reviews (providing you’re keeping them happy). Keep it tactile, and ask your customers about their shopping experience at the end of the transaction. Letting your customers know that you value their opinion is a great way to build relationships.