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Some businesses are still reluctant to embrace online customer reviews posted on sites like Yelp, Google, Facebook, and TripAdvisor.

Maybe one of the previous comments they saw had caused a little PTSD. Or maybe there aren’t enough reviews coming in for management to make a fuss about. It could go the other way, too: too many reviews to manage and make sense of. Or maybe the business simply doesn’t see the value of trying to care about reviews.

None of these are legitimate excuses. If you want to build your brand reputation, market your business effectively, create a loyal community of customers, and drive performance, you must recognize that customer reviews are good for your business.

Customer Reviews Influence Purchase Behavior

Today’s consumers rely on reviews to find great businesses and validate their purchase decisions.

According to YouGov, approximately 4 in 5 American consumers read customer reviews before making a purchase. 79 percent do so to make sure the product or service is good, 61 percent read reviews to make sure the product or service works, and 53 percent read reviews to make sure that they don’t get ripped off.

Research firm eMarketer, meanwhile, found that 88 percent of Internet users read customer reviews in order to determine the quality of a local business. 7 percent read at least 20 reviews before they put enough trust in a business. Most still read between 4 and 6 reviews, far outnumbering the percentage of people reading zero to three reviews.

Reviews Give You Another Platform for Engaging with Your Customers

If you’re looking to have meaningful conversations and relationships with customers, don’t limit your scope to their comments on your social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

Customer review sites also happen to be a great platform for driving engagement. With reviews, you can listen and respond to your customers. You can understand and anticipate what their needs are. You can connect with reviewers and ask them questions or request for more detailed feedback.

The more you interact with and share in the experiences of your customers, the more successful you’ll be in attempts to foster brand growth and inspire customer loyalty.

Customer Reviews Can Help You Boost Your Search Performance

A lot of businesses are not unfamiliar with traditional search engine optimization (SEO) tactics like keyword research and link building. But few are able to leverage customer reviews as an SEO hack to improve their search performance.

Did you know:

  • According to Moz, online review signals — quantity, velocity, and diversity of reviews — are considered one of the top seven factors influencing how and where a business appears in local search results.
  • 800 words of review text can make up as much as 70 percent of fresh content for your page, which search engines will reward with higher search results.
  • A research study found that businesses that stay engaged on customer review sites attract 4 times more page views and 63 percent higher popularity rankings and visibility on TripAdvisor.
  • 83 percent of shoppers discover new products every month through peer-to-peer reviews and social media. Reviews and recommendations are their foremost sources of information.
  • Reviews can even influence up to 10 percent of a business’ search ranking.

It’s also widely reported that search engine giant Google pulls data from customer review sites to determine organic search engine rankings. The more positive customer reviews you have, the higher your rankings will likely be in search engine results.

You Can Convert Your Best Customers into Brand Ambassadors Using Customer Reviews

The best things in life are free. Same could be true for marketing. What better (and more cost-effective) way to generate the kind of exposure that you might not be able to get through traditional marketing strategies than to have your own community of happy customers vouch for your business?

That’s why it makes sense to want to embrace customer reviews and develop a strategy for managing them. By giving a platform for the voice of your customers, you can put them in charge of your brand and demonstrate greater levels of brand authenticity to your audience.

  • Content found in customer reviews (46 percent) ranks ahead of posts by companies or brands on social networks like Facebook and Twitter (15 percent) in terms of trustworthiness. Consumers also trust online reviews over natural search engine results.

Reviews Are One of the Most Effective Types of User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) can be described as original content created and made publicly available by individuals outside your organization or brand: your customers, your fans, your online reviewers, your brand advocates, and even your online critics and detractors.

Customer reviews, in particular, count as one of the most powerful types of user-generated content that can supercharge your marketing efforts.

  • As a specific type of UGC, reviews are the key in-store purchase driver for 14.5 percent of consumers, while social media — mainly, Facebook and YouTube — is the form of communication that will convince 12.3 percent to make a buying decision.

By harnessing customer reviews as user-generated content, you can expand your reach, drive engagement, and empower your customers, fans, and advocates to be the voice of your brand.

Even Negative Customer Reviews Can Be Good For You

Any business owner will tell you that a one-star rating or an unfavorable customer review can feel like a punch in the gut.

It’s totally natural to feel that way. But remember: customer reviews (even the bad ones) serve as valuable feedback from customers who want to share with you their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Use this feedback in order to accelerate improvements and solve customers’ problems.

Maybe a negative customer review will make you realize that the wait times at your office are too long. Or that the furniture in your hotel rooms really do need a 2018 update. Or that your showroom sales guy really needs more product training.

Whatever the issues of your customers are, you won’t know until you embrace online reviews and truly listen to what they’re saying.

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.

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