We’ve all seen them. Maybe you’ve even written one or two in your time. Providing a prospective buyer product or supplier information appears to be the only knowledge you can garner from online reviews, but to a marketer, there is a much more important reason to attract positive feedback.
It’s an age-old dilemma for businesses when your customers value quality over price, but online reviews help convert those types of customers. That is, convert them when you have positive reviews. Whether they are looking into the product, or the company, seeing objective comments can help sell your product, and raise your company credibility. Both of these aspects cannot be overlooked, even if you are a local ‘brick and mortar’ store or your presence is solely online.
A survey by BazaarVoice reported that 52% of consumers were more likely to visit a local store with positive online reviews, as opposed to 28% who were swayed by location and price. Furthermore, 76% reported that they regularly or occasionally consulted online feedback before they visited a local store to get ‘the feel’ of the brand. Rather bizarrely, an incredible 51% said that they would trust user-generated content more than the recommendation of family and friends. All of a sudden, online reviews are becoming closer than a recommendation from ‘Mom’ and that is a power that you mustn’t underestimate. Who else do you trust more than Mom?
The report also indicated that most people take notice of a page that has 2-10 reviews with the nearer the number 10 you have to add more gravitas to your position in the buying pecking order, increasing the likelihood of a purchase. Consumers considered that multiple positive reviews ‘legitimizing’ the vendor and product, and as an endorsement that those reviews were real. This concept that online reviews can so completely endorse a company is one that is taken so seriously that Amazon has devoted considerable time and effort to pruning out fake reviews to protect the credibility of online reviews. It really is becoming that important.
One of the other reasons that you need to garner positive online reviews is that search engines, more or less, use the same train of thought as consumers when it ranks pages. The more objective reviews you have, the more credible your company – according to an SEO bot. If you want to rank highly in your SEO then you need not just to have positive reviews – you need to encourage them!
One of the easiest ways to get genuine online reviews, in fact, the easiest ways to get online reviews, is exactly the same way you get sales. Or click-throughs. Or shares. Plainly and simply, if you want online reviews – ask your consumers for them! Or at least, ask your happy, satisfied and contented customers for them.
Online reviews are one area where opinion is polarized. They either love you or they hate you, there is very little in between. That in its self makes sense, as to bother to create a profile, log on and actually write requires effort. People are only galvanized into action when they are passionate about something. This is where most the credibility comes from. People believe these reviews because of the considerable effort that went into writing it, which is really an ingenious idea. But therein lays a problem. People can be passionate in favour of something, but others may be equally passionate against the same thing.
However well you develop your brand or increase the quality of your product, ‘things’ happen. Even if everything goes perfectly, some people are never satisfied or are over willing to give a disingenuous review. Negative reviews will happen. This is an even greater reason to increase the number of positive reviews as no one really expects you to be perfect, so one or two problems in a sea of fandom will largely be overlooked.
Reaching out to your happy customers need not be as much of a task as it sounds. Don’t think of it as a begging letter, think of it as a business investment. Make an email that says what a pleasure it was to work with them and you wondered if they would mind writing a review or testimonial for you. You can direct them to a specific platform to write it, or suggest a few places, or ask them to send it to you to use as you will.
A different way to ask for an online review is to set up a contact page on your website expressly for that purpose, making it easy for people to send feedback. This is the simplest way of collecting review as you are not sending them off-site or making it overly complicated, and as you have already gained their trust and they have an account, all it takes is for them to type. If you place it on a page where you are already displaying other reviews, it will give the customer ideas of what to write but also the validation of their review.
If you send out a newsletter or a regular email campaign, then you can create a section for a feedback call to action and use a different one each month. You could put it on a survey, questionnaire or rating, asking for feedback at the end, which stimulates honest reviews. All this information can be used to add online credibility. Your blog is another place that you can employ the same tactics, leading reviewers to the place they can complete the task easily and quickly. If you have created a landing page especially for this purpose you can leverage it on your blog and on other platforms too.
Your electronic signatures can be a source of reviews if you add links to the relevant pages that they can use. Invite them to send feedback, then put the live links to the landing page, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yelp, or any other vehicle you use to sell your product. When you point people in the right direction they are more likely to complete the task.
If you operate offline, a great way to get people to comment is a comment card. Staple one to every contract, order, receipt or post-sale communication and don’t forget you can also add the online addresses of the places they can leave a digital review. Stores do this very well by offering an incentive of loyalty points to fill in a questionnaire, driving many customers to their website which positively impacts their SEO.
Another way is to pre-empt a review during the nurturing phase of your sales. It’s as simple as asking, ‘If we do a great job, can we count on you for a review?’ in person or via your other online channels. That is neither threatening nor intimidating and sets up the expectation that your company will do an excellent job, excellent enough for you to want to share the experience with the world.
If you’re still thinking that online reviews aren’t worth it, look at this graph:
It’s not just Gen Y that take reviews seriously – it’s common for most consumers, and the ability to give a review is everywhere. It’s easy to forget that people spend much of their time on their digital devices and are very capable of navigating around the internet to find what they need, which means it’s better to have the information you want them to find, available.
Whether you believe in getting online reviews or not, they are invaluable marketing. Start using a few of the ideas above and see how they work for you, but always remember – the reviews are a reflection of your brand, make sure it’s a great one.