The Importance of Online Customer Reviews

I’m busy. My children are school-aged with sports, friends and active little social lives. My work takes me to multiple states on a regular basis, and I no longer have the time to touch, test and see products in-store. All of this has made me the avid online shopper I am today. Aside from word of mouth, I often research products based on customer reviews, and with the holiday season approaching, I thought I would speak to you, as a digital marketer, about all the benefits online customer reviews offer your website.

Online Reviews Drive Sales

More and more consumers are shopping online, so the power of persuasion that comes from online reviews is increasing as well. According to Businnes2Community, 90% of consumers read online reviews, and 88% of them trust online reviews when considering a business.

The SEO benefits that come from enabling product reviews and comments on your site should also be considered. Every time a new review or comment is approved and published, your page’s content has been refreshed. The search engines take note and are more likely to return to crawl your site.

Keyword density and word choice are important, and sometimes as marketers the words we display on our product pages are not the same terms audiences use to associate with them. Including reviews increases both words on page and words your audience is using, giving you a healthy text/html ratio for SEO as well as higher audience relevancy!

On a more technical note, make sure you’re formatting your reviews so that the search engines can use them in their search and shopping result landing pages. Here is a link to better understand if your site is coding reviews to allow for this.

Don’t Have Comments or Reviews Enabled Yet?

If you’re selling products online and don’t have a review feature available, get one set up ASAP! MOZ found that 67% of consumers are influenced by online reviews.

Going a step deeper, Business2Community found that 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more. In addition, customers are likely to spend 31% more at a business with excellent reviews.

If you’re looking for a good company to partner with, I recommend PowerReviews or Bazaarvoice; not only do their services help you gather comments, reviews and forums on your site, but with Bazaarvoice specifically, they also allow you to reply to questions on other sites that sell your products.

Worried About Bad Reviews?

This reminds me of skeptical brands in the past saying they didn’t want to create a social profile because they were worried someone would post something bad on their page. Conversations will take place on social, and if they don’t, angry consumers will find another place to leave reviews. Instead, you should allow reviews and comments on your site, and as my son would say, “make that frown turn upside down.”

A bad review is an opportunity to make an unhappy customer your biggest fan. Our best-practice recommendation would be to simply respond quickly to try to mitigate the damage. If they’re complaining about the quality of your product, for example, reply with an apology and offer them the ability to exchange. If it’s more complicated than that, request to connect offline for quick problem resolution. These disgruntled customers will feel validated and heard—which is what they wanted when they wrote their review. They’ll appreciate the customer service, and others will see that your company cares. It can then increase others’ consumer confidence and accelerate their path to purchase if they were on the fence.

How to Bolster Online Reviews

According to BrightLocal, seven out of 10 consumers will leave a review for a business if they’re asked to. Just as you send out automated email confirmations when products ship, you should also consider reaching out to audiences a few days after they receive their package to request a review. If response rates are low, consider testing an offer to them as a reward upon completion. Just make sure to put a note somewhere on your site if recipients receive rewards from posting reviews. Not only will it help you seem more transparent, but it may also increase the number of reviews you receive.

It surprises me how often clients forget to simply ask their audiences. It usually works. And, in a world where more and more online product reviews are bogus, it helps build credibility and trust with your consumers.

For long-term loyalty and return shoppers, you don’t want to be one of the bad guys putting artificial reviews on their site. You also don’t want to change the reviews you receive. Keep it authentic and fight the urge to correct misspellings and run-on sentences, but remember that it’s OK to remove bad words, links and fake reviews scammers may have left.

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Our fast-paced world has more and more people going online to find products and services. Not having a reviews or comments feature on your site limits your sales potential. Instill confidence in your site visitors by showing the strength of your products and reputation through the words of your previous consumers. Consumer advocacy is one of the most powerful marketing assets you have to convince new site visitors to purchase your products.

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