With a high today of 22 in Oshkosh, and snow coming down, I can’t help but daydream a little of warmer weather… Let’s all pretend we’re taking a quick weekend getaway to wherever is on the top of your bucket list, you’re out exploring and realize you’re hungry. You’ll probably grab your phone for a “places to eat near me” Google search, right? Chances are, a fair amount of restaurants show up nearby, but how do you choose? You’re new in the area, and bordering on hangry… If you head to the restaurant with the best ratings and reviews, you’re not alone. In fact, 97% of people read reviews for local businesses! Beyond this dream vacation scenario, 93% of consumers say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions. We talked earlier this month about some must-have stats you needed on online reviews, but today, we’re going to take a deeper dive to help you understand how and why online reviews are so important for businesses as well as consumers!
First things first, what are online reviews?
Online reviews are your customers’ feedback or personal experiences using your product or service. It is important to note that these reviews can be positive or negative and can highly impact your business either way. These insights are user-generated so they are authentic and trusted! Depending how you collect them and where they’re left, you as a brand have the chance to interact with them, respond to them, and share them!
Why are they so important?
Today’s shoppers are doing more research than ever before, and they are relying on the opinions and recommendations of their peers when making purchasing decisions. A brand with no reviews or a brand with primarily negative reviews just isn’t going to cut it. A great review strategy can help develop trust and authority for your brand, help you generate better organic search traffic, take up more valuable real estate for your brand in the search results, and sway customers who may be deciding between your brand and your competitors. Here’s some more insight on what makes reviews important and impactful for your brand…
How do you generate more reviews?
The best way to generate more online reviews? Ask for them and make it as easy as possible for your fans to give them to you! Ask your customers to share their experiences about your brand! Decide where you want to start accumulating your reviews, and send your customers there! Some of the most popular options for online reviews are on your website, Google My Business, Amazon, Facebook, Yelp… The list could go on and on! Use your email lists, customer invoices or receipts, in-store signage… Anything and everything you can think of to reach your customers and encourage them to leave you some feedback, give them a direct link to your profile on the site of your choice, or ask them to get in touch with their rep to provide a testimonial. Offer discounts, coupon codes, or another promo for customers that leave you a review. Get in touch with your vendors and partners and ask them to leave you a review! Make your requests personal, and make them often!
What do you do with reviews that are left for you?
Generating a healthy number of reviews is no easy task, so it’s really, really important you make the most of them when you get them! Respond to as many reviews as you can, positive and negative! This demonstrates a top-notch level of customer service and lets prospective customers know you’re listening and you care. Positive reviews are easy to respond to, but the negative ones are even more important. It can be SO tempting to delete, hide or ignore a negative review, but you can’t! Address the comment as quickly as you can and aim to move the conversation offline. It could be as simple as “We’re so sorry to hear about this experience, please call us so we can make this right!” You may never hear from them, you may never be able to make the situation right, but every searcher who came across that negative review is going to see you tried. No company is perfect, and no savvy consumer today believes that a brand’s reviews are spotless. What matters is that you care, that you’re trying to make it right, and that you’re putting your customers first.
Once you’ve responded to the reviews, think about how you can put them to work for you. Grab a screenshot and post them on your social channels. Use quotes and testimonials in your marketing materials. Create case studies or success stories that really highlight how and why your brand is the best choice over the competition!
What else do online reviews provide?
Beyond building your brand exposure and authority, there are some other benefits to customer reviews that not a lot of brands we’ve talked to are taking advantage of.
- Spot trends and popular key phrases you can use in your digital marketing campaigns. If you start to notice a lot of reviews talking about a specific quality of your products or aspect of your services, tell that story! What may seem like a run of the mill by-product of your brand could be what customers are really connecting with.
- Refine your personas and audience understanding. You’ve done your research and identified your target audiences, but hearing them talk directly about how your brand has helped them is invaluable insight! Actively listening to what your customers are saying and finetune your personas and approach to marketing to better align with them!
- Improve your operations. Everyone from your customer service department to your marketing team to your product developers or service providers want to know what’s being said about them, so use customer reviews to help you improve processes, communication, and overall operations.
What questions do you still have about online reviews? How are you working to collect more reviews, do more with the accounts you get, and amplify the benefits across your organization? We’d love to hear how things are going for you! Leave a comment below and let me know! And while you’re at it, please consider leaving us a review! Whether you’re a long-time client who loves the results we drive, or a blog-lurker that loves the resources we provide, tell the world!