Consumer decision-making has drastically shifted. An overwhelming number of people now shop online and if they do make it out to the brick-and-mortar stores, they check product reviews and compare prices on their smart phones.
According to Forrester Research, we now live in “The Age of the Customer.”
Today’s consumers are empowered and informed. They look to multiple sources of word-of-mouth information and often take their time choosing which brand to purchase.
Reviews help people understand a product or service from an honest consumer point of view. So with, social media, constant updates, and customer reviews right at their fingertips, it’s no surprise that 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision.
Why Reviews Matter
- 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family — Click to tweet
- 70% of consumers say they trust online reviews, an increase of 15% in four years — Click to tweet
- 55% of consumers feel that the opinions of “people like me” have the greatest impact on their buying decisions — Click to tweet
- 4 out of 5 consumers say they have reversed a purchase decision due to a negative review — Click to tweet
- 92% of consumers around the world say they trust word-of-mouth recommendations from friends, family, and strangers above all other forms of advertising — Click to tweet
- The typical consumer checks 10.4 information sources before buying a product or service — Click to tweet
- U.S. internet users generate more than 500 billion impressions on each other via word-of-mouth channels specifically regarding products and services (more than a quarter of the # of impressions advertisers make) — Click to tweet
- 90% of typical U.S. consumers read online reviews; 6% write them — Click to tweet
How to Get More Reviews
As you can see, reviews are extremely important in the buying process. In order to get more reviews for your product or service, you need to make sure your customers know you value reviews and you need to encourage them to create them. According to Jon Hall of Grade.us, the review funnel consists of three steps:
Get Customers Into the Funnel
Customers generally have little motivation to write an online review. They often forget, find it too difficult, or they can’t find the time. Unless customers are part of the 6% of super reviewers or have a really awful experience, there’s a small chance they’ll write a review. In order to combat this, invite customers to give feedback.
It may seem simple, but simply asking for a review can increase your number of reviews dramatically. Let customers know that their opinion matters to you by collecting their information and following up with them. Send them a follow-up email, give them a call, or hand them a physical takeaway card asking them to share their experience.
When crafting this message, be careful with your wording. Don’t put pressure on your customers. “Invite” them to write a company review instead of “asking” them.
Keep in mind, happy customers usually want to help others find good services and products and they want to give back to the brands who served them well. Some of these happy customers are your most influential consumers who should be used as a valuable resource to not only help improve your brand awareness, but to also help you drive real conversions and sales.
Guide the Customer Through the Process
Third-party review websites are ideal because sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, Urbanspoon, Tripadvisor, and Yahoo! Local are the sites other consumers use to discover, evaluate, and compare companies, products, or services like yours. However, the ranking of these different sites changes. To make it easy to change which review site you ask customers to use, create a landing page to guide users to.
Because your landing page’s purpose is to drive people down the review funnel, that should be the only focus – reviews. Make sure you don’t include other calls to action. Simply reinforce the messaging that got them to the landing page in the first place.
Although you may hope that most people will come to leave a positive review, it’s a good idea to prepare for customers who may have had a bad experience. For these consumers, it’s best to include a support email address, phone number, or links to your social media profiles so more attention will be paid to their current issue but the long-term visibility will be small.
Monitor and Reply to Reviews
When reviews don’t reflect the reputation aspire to have, you should address them immediately. You must constantly monitor what people are saying about your brand by using tools like Yext, Yahoo! Localworks, or ReviewTrackers.
Be sure to respond to any negative reviews promptly (within a few days at least) because if you let a negative review linger for too long, the damage will be even greater. Remember, your most recent reviews matter most of all.
Also, when it comes to responding (on the sites that allow it), don’t spend time answering everyone’s comments. Instead, focus on answering the negative reviews and replying to the positive reviews that highlight something other customers might not know about your brand.
Consumers are 5x more dependent on digital content than they were 5 years ago and user-generated content is 35% more memorable and 20% more trusted than other types of media. Customer reviews are powerful and vital for your brand if you want to build credibility and drive sales. If you encourage your top influencers to write a short message documenting their positive experience with your company they can drive hundreds of others to make a purchase.