If you have a love-hate relationship with online reviews, that’s completely understandable. On the one hand, you have loyal fans who rave about your business, and on the other, you have disgruntled customers who have a bone to pick.
Either way, online reviews are an essential component of every brand today, one that (like it or not) you cannot ignore. Today, we’ll take a quick look at why that is so, specifically why reviews matter in relation to buying decisions.
Negative Versus Positive Reviews
Of course there are angry people out there leaving angry reviews. But don’t forget about all the people with positive things to say!
Both types of reviews are important because they influence the buying behavior of future customers. They have the ability to either erode trust and confidence in your brand, or to provide the social proof needed to complete a buying transaction. As Brian Smith of Search Engine Land writes, “When it comes to purchase decisions, we never make them alone.”
Obviously, the more positive reviews you have, the better your brand appears in the eyes of consumers. That’s why it’s so important to follow up with every customer after a sale. Smith adds: “The truth is, customers are far more likely to leave a negative review than a positive one. Therefore, it’s critical that after a customer completes a transaction, you ask them how satisfied they were with the experience and the product.”
Speaking of Buying Decisions …
The latest Local Consumer Review Survey by BrightLocal reveals important information about how consumers read and use online reviews. Among the most noteworthy findings:
You can read the full findings here, but let’s pause for a moment to consider their relevance to buying decisions. Fully 84 percent of people are willing to trust the opinions of total strangers when deciding whether to make a purchase. So whether you like online reviews or not, it’s imperative that you pay attention to them as a reputation marketing opportunity.
“A positive reputation is one of the most powerful marketing assets a business has to convince new customers to contact them,” writes BrightLocal. “The social proof contained within reviews and star ratings helps consumers short cut their research and make decisions faster and with greater confidence than ever before.”
About That Social Proof
There are different types of social proof, ranging from expert opinions, to celebrity and influencer endorsements, to success stories of everyday users just like you and me. Focus on the latter when first formulating a reputation marketing strategy, because that’s where you’ll find the richest sources of customer testimonials and online reviews.
- Testimonials: With testimonials, you seek out customer success stories and promote them on your website, your social media pages and in other marketing materials. A well-placed testimonial, say, alongside a product you’re selling, can be the tipping point needed to persuade a user to buy. Whenever possible, include real photos and videos of your customers with these testimonials for even more convincing social proof.
- Reviews: It’s very simple: Provide a way for customers to leave feedback about your product or service, and then ask for a review after the sale. This can be a basic five-star scoring system with some ability to type out a review. Think about the last time you made an online purchase. Did the website include user reviews and recommendations? I’d bet you read them and made a decision based on that information, whether you did so consciously or not.
Once you provide that social proof, it becomes much easier to drown out or manage any negative reviews that trickle in. From there, you can begin to engage with potential experts and influencers who can promote your brand even further.
And if you’re looking for a way to manage, respond to and solicit testimonials and online reviews, leave a comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. That happens to be one of our specialties!