The unknown can intimidate people—particularly people who don’t like wasting their time or money on experiences with businesses they don’t know. That’s why 88 percent of consumers turn to online reviews before whipping out their wallets. The effectiveness of having a written-out, well developed, thoughtful strategy isn’t just a theory or the experience-based opinion of top marketers. It is a law of the universe. Maybe you run a great business with loyal customers who love you; but if those customers aren’t posting online reviews about how awesome your business is, then other potential customers are going to wonder what’s wrong with you—even if there’s nothing wrong at all! But that’s not the only reason you need to build a solid collection of online reviews from your regular customers:
1. Meet Your Customers
Reviews can give you valuable information about who your customers are, what they are looking for, and how your product could better meet their needs. In fact, ideas for improvements often come directly from customers.
2. They Make You Look Trustworthy
Your brand can build significant trust and credibility from a steady stream of positive reviews. One of the more interesting findings of recent research is just how powerful reviews are at building your company’s online identity. Many shoppers distrust businesses that have ratings below(or even above) four stars. This leaves a small margin of error at the top, but companies with better average ratings are significantly more likely to see views converted to traffic and sales.
3. One Positive Review Can Boost Your Sales
Recent studies show that even your very first positive review can convert the merely curious into new customers—by up to 10 percent! The first 50 positive reviews can ratchet the conversion level up by about 30 percent. Another study showed that 85 percent of consumers feel they need to see at least 10 positive reviews about a business before they venture into customer-hood; but that there is a growing contingent of consumers who feel the need to read even more reviews than that.
4. They Expand the Conversation About You
Very good (or bad) reviews have a way of quickly spreading. Encouraging consumers to review your company is an easy way to expand your brand’s reach. When people have good things to say, they are also more likely to share their reviews on more sites, including external websites like Yelp, FourSquare, and TripAdvisor. These hubs are vital to your online presence, as Google collects data from their sites when building its own results ranking. Even on an individual level, having positive reviews can help push further reviews.
5. They Provide You An Open Line to Consumers
More than simply posting reviews, consumers today expect companies to respond to their comments. These reviews also give you a forum to be frank with consumers, and reinforce positive reviews with thanks, or promotions. More importantly, they also give you a way to quickly rectify a poor review and show that you care.
6. Reviews Generate More Reviews
When you take positive reviews and broadcast them across all of your media channels (website, social media, other marketing efforts), it stimulates other customers to post reviews as well. It encourages them to become part of your conversation and boosts repeat and new sales as well.
7. They Make You More Visible
Being a successful brand also means you’re a visible one. Most shoppers will look on search engines like Google and Bing, or even on Facebook, when deciding what to buy. These websites all have their own unique ways of indexing and surfacing content, but they all value original and fresh content, and customer reviews can definitely help feed the content machine, keeping your brand favored by algorithms.
The way you market your brand is important, but having people talk about you is a great way to enhance your message. By encouraging positive conversation about your brand, you can quickly and clearly improve your marketing efforts.