Most buyers today turn to online reviews when looking up a product or service that interests them. For one thing, there is a sense of “social belonging” – a feeling of confidence that you are making decisions based on the experiences of others. It’s why most SEO experts highly recommend leveraging customer reviews to promote one’s business in the form of star ratings, testimonials and other kinds of review systems.
The numbers do not lie and according to an October 2017 study by Statista – How online customer reviews affect people’s opinion about a local business – 73% of the respondents said that positive reviews made them trust or distrust a particular company.
73 percent of respondents felt that positive customer reviews made them trust a business more. Hence it cannot be denied that these reviews can be crucial, as is the task of tracking and managing them. You can start by obtaining a good understanding of what makes these reviews so compelling in the first place. Only then can you expect to effectively make good use of them when doing internet marketing.
Word of Mouth
Even though most businesses have turned much of their attention to digital marketing strategies such as search engine optimisation and social media marketing, none of them compares to word of mouth advertising when it comes to sheer persuasive ability.
You can spend a lot of time and resources crafting marketing messages but it is not going to be nearly as compelling as someone sharing his or her experience with a product or service.
Simply put, reviews are perceived as an honest opinion by other people as opposed to advertising which we all know deep inside, is something meticulously designed to sell you something. While reviews that we see online about products or services are generally from people we do not know; their opinion carries just about the same weight as a recommendation from friends or family. After all, the people leaving such reviews are not being compensated and are merely giving feedback on their own experience as a customer may it be good or bad. Consumers can then use these reviews to guide their buying decisions.
Reviews create transparency
We can naturally assume that having a negative review about your product or service will discourage customers from doing business with you, but that is not always the case. It might surprise you to know that having no negative reviews about your business can have the opposite effect of what you might expect with most people suspecting fake or censored reviews. Hence actually having a mix of positive and negative reviews is better as it suggests transparency in running your business.
When your business is being perceived as being transparent, people are more likely to trust the product or service that you offer. This factor can go a long way towards gaining and retaining customers. After all, we cannot expect everyone to have an excellent experience with a particular business. It is not to say that that having several negative reviews will not hurt your business — it certainly will. However, just seeing a few of them can establish transparency with potential customers which is always a good thing.
Moreover, businesses have the golden opportunity to respond to negative reviews which further bolsters one’s reputation for transparency. While a dissatisfied customer may leave a scathing report, the latter may change into a stellar review if the business takes the time to fix the problem. If anything else, it shows customers that your company is willing to go the extra mile to ensure the satisfaction of your customers.
Another less obvious psychological aspect behind the marketing power of reviews is what people from the Journal of Consumer Behavior refer to as social belonging — the need people to feel that they belong and engage in positive or negative word of mouth to educate people about a particular product or service.
Simply put, people use reviews not only as a source of information but also as an outlet for social belonging by sharing their ideas and experiences with other people. Such actions are beneficial to the ones leaving the review as it enables them to establish a reputation as a reliable source of information. More importantly, people leave reviews for a sense of satisfaction knowing that someone is bound to find the information useful.
So how can your business take advantage of online reviews?
Nowadays, people are spending more time online to the point that reviews on the web are starting to replace word of mouth. It is no longer enough for a business to establish a presence online but you will also need to back it up with social proof in the form of transparent customer reviews.
So how do you go about leveraging the power of customer reviews to build up your business? Well, it is not as difficult as you might think. For one thing, you only need to start actively asking customers to leave reviews about the products or services that you offer. If you receive a negative rating, respond quickly and think of it as an opportunity to strengthen your business presence online. Use reviews to gather social proof and people are bound to trust you over competitors which sets your business up for long-term success in web marketing.