How To Use Online Customer Reviews To Grow Your Business?
If you are like most people, you probably check customer reviews before buying a product or a service online. That’s correct. Over 90% of people read customer reviews and almost 90% of them trust reviews as much as they trust referrals from friends and family.
Why Are Customer Reviews Critical?
Online customer reviews improve your conversion rate. Which product or service are you more likely to buy, one with no reviews or one with a good number of positive reviews? There you are, and so are your customers.
A survey from a UK based clothes retailer found that the products with 20+ reviews had an 83% higher conversion rate than those without reviews.
Reviews don’t only help sell your products, they also make your business more discoverable. Speaking of local businesses, the number of customer reviews directly impacts your search ranking. For global or online businesses, you can feature your star ratings and reviews on the search engine results page (SERP) using schema markup. This can dramatically improve your click-through rates.
5 Ways to Make Customer Reviews Work for Your Business
In short, you can’t take customer reviews lightly if you are serious about your online presence. Here are 5 ways to build a strong review profile and make customer reviews work for your business.
1. Ask Your Customers for Reviews
Request your customers to review your business or product whenever they buy from you. Send them an email, an SMS, a WhatsApp message, and politely ask for a review. Do it immediately after the purchase because the response rate is likely to be high and the feedback more objective, as the customer’s experience is still fresh.
You can’t leave your customers wondering where they should write their review. So, send them links to your review profiles. It can be a link to a page on your website or to your Google+ page, Facebook, Yelp, Amazon, TripAdvisor or other review websites relevant to your business. Of course, your business must be present on a relevant review platform before you can ask your customers for reviews.
2. Publish Reviews on Your Own Website
You can have more control if you host reviews on your own website. You can decide if you want to publish a review or not, although The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission or ACCC says not publishing or deleting negative reviews would amount to misleading customers.
Nonetheless, you have more room for responding to negative feedback if you have control over publishing. Here’s an illustration to show how much sales uplift can be expected by publishing reviews on your website:
Customer reviews provide social proof of your product or business and can improve conversions by around 18%, on the average. You can also feature the on-page customer reviews in your search results on Google, increasing your click-through rate.
Remember that customers are more likely to trust the reviews on third party websites. Moreover, the reviews on third-party or industry-relevant websites also drive you traffic and have a positive impact on your SEO rankings.
Therefore, you should have your business reviewed both on-page and off-page in order to build a strong review profile.
3. Offer Incentives for Reviewing
You can’t offer a reward for writing glowing reviews of your business. “Give us a 5-star review and get 10% off your next purchase”. That would be unethical, and in many countries, illegal; even if you’re not specifically asking for positive reviews.
However, in Australia the law allows you offer incentives if positive and critical reviews are treated equally and the reviewer, as well as customers, are expressly told that the incentive is available whether the review is positive or negative.
4. Respond to Negative Reviews
Most of us shy away from critical reviews, but negative reviews are not that gruesome. They make your positive reviews look more authentic. Research shows 68% of customers trust reviews more when they include a ‘healthy mix’ of both positive and negative reviews.
But, this doesn’t mean you should close your eyes to negative reviews. A couple of stinking reviews on top of your profile can actually cause your traffic and conversions to take a nosedive. So, what do you do?
Think of negative reviews as an opportunity to engage your customers, learn from your mistakes, and make amends. Always reply to the negative review in an apologetic way and offer to resolve the problem.
Try to persuade the angry customer into changing the review, but even if they don’t, answering to a negative review shows other customers you care about customer satisfaction and feedback.
5. Do Not Publish Fake Reviews
According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), ‘Businesses and review platforms that do not remove reviews that they know to be fake risk breaching the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.’
Yes, it’s a crime to publish fake reviews—reviews that are likely to mislead consumers because they were written by:
- the business itself
- a competitor
- a paid writer who hasn’t used the product
- someone who is receiving any kind of benefit for writing an inflated review
Google, Amazon, and other mega-reviewing platforms can sniff out fake reviews using their cutting edge technology, so don’t take a chance unless you want to lose some or all of your reviews, get blacklisted, or both.
So, adopt all these strategies and unleash the power of online reviews? Let us know if you need help building a formidable review profile. We help businesses increase their online presence and uplift sales with our result-driven digital marketing services.