Just How Important Are Customer Reviews?

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What emphasis should your organization place on customer reviews when undertaking an SEO or marketing campaign? Many customers searching online for a particular good or service rely on the reviews of other customers. In fact, customer reviews are often the determining factor when deciding which organization, product or service to select.

This post details the reasons these reviews are so important. It also presents ways in which organizations can generate more customer reviews.

Why Are Customer Reviews Such a Big Deal?

Customer reviews have the potential to impact a company’s sales significantly and positively in several ways. In addition to generating sales via free word of mouth, customer reviews:

  • Raise search engine optimization results: Positive reviews increase the odds that shoppers are searching for products using keywords that appear in those reviews. This increases rankings and leads to more website traffic, leads and ultimately, sales.
  • Boost reputation: Readers think better of a company after seeing that customers like the products/services and/or the customer service received. Potential customers will trust that the business is reputable and be more likely to make a purchase.
  • Increase brand awareness: The sharing of customer reviews online, especially in social media, lets potential customers who may not have heard about the company learn about the brand. They will then be more likely to purchase from a “known” brand.
  • Enhance customer relationships: Interacting directly with review writers helps build relationships. Not only do the review writers feel heard, but those who see the conversation think of the company as caring and responsive, which increases purchases.
  • Improve the business and customer service: What if a company receives poor reviews? These are helpful, too, if the business considers them a wake-up call. Using less-than-stellar reviews to improve the product or service offered can work wonders.

How to Generate More Customer Reviews

Now that the benefits of customer reviews to a company’s sales and growth have been established, the issue is how to get more of them. Here are some suggestions:

  • Provide clear instructions: While it should go without saying, people who want to leave reviews need to know exactly how and where to post them. Simple instructions are extremely helpful. Frustrating potential review writers before they post only leads to negative results.
  • Offer review options: Most managers believe that their website is the only place for requesting reviews. Not so! Consider asking for reviews on product packaging or in post-purchase emails. Making the reviewing task convenient for customers is key to obtaining more reviews.
  • Respond to reviews: Thanking writers of positive reviews and replying to writers of negative reviews lets potential and current buyers know that the company cares about their opinions. Shoppers who see this are more inclined to leave their own reviews after they make a purchase.
  • Create a review page: Does the website display customer reviews on a page that is easily found by casual users? Doing this not only encourages customers to purchase, but it also lets them know that the business values reviews enough to convince customers to post their own reviews.
  • Offer incentives: Buying reviews is wrong and may result in penalties, but providing an incentive to encourage reviews is acceptable. Offering a coupon or discount on a future purchase helps generates reviews. Be sure to reward those posting both positive and negative reviews.

Conclusion

Whether a company sells products or offers professional services, potential buyers take reviews into account before deciding whether or not to purchase — but there are additional benefits as well. Customer reviews are crucial to getting visitors to a website by improving search engine rankings, and they also build trust in the business, which increases sales and customer loyalty over time.

Obviously, if reviews are important, then getting more reviews is vital. This post has provided five methods for increasing the number of reviews a business receives. While they appear to be common sense, it’s surprising how few of these get implemented. Whether managers have the bandwidth to put these suggestions into action by themselves or hire a company to do it for them, generating reviews should be part of every marketing strategy.

Author bio: Aaron Wittersheim is Chief Operating Officer at Straight North, a digital marketing company. He helped startups, middle-market, and Fortune 500 companies improve organizational structure and grow through his expertise in process conception, task automation, technology, and internal project management.

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