How to Encourage User Reviews for Your Products & Services
In our never-ending quest to increase conversion rates and revenue, we often focus on web design and offers, and overlook the power of customer reviews. In truth, no amount of advertising or tweeting can impact customers the way an objective peer review can. This is because, in this age of social media and online reviews, what you say about your business is important; what people say about you matters even more.
So, How Important are Online Reviews to Consumers?
According to BrightLocal’s Consumer Review Survey 2013,
- 85% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses
- Lifestyle businesses attract the most searches including restaurants and clothes shops
- 73% of consumers say positive customer reviews make them trust a business more
- 65% of consumers are more likely to use a business which has positive online reviews
- 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
These findings provide unequivocal evidence of the growing influence of online reviews on the purchasing habits of people. Nowadays more and more consumers are consulting reviews as a first step in their pre-purchase research of local businesses.
These stats are self-explanatory as to why small businesses need customer reviews. Put quite simply, user reviews increase conversions. They can eliminate doubts potential customers may have about a particular product or service or they can help the process of product selection.
The SEO Benefits of Reviews
Improved conversion rates and overall customer experience are among the most obvious reasons for encouraging customer reviews but let’s not forget the considerable SEO benefits as well.
1. Customer reviews generate fresh and unique content for the search engines.
2. Improved rankings for the name of your products plus the word ‘review’ or related words such as ‘ratings’.
3. Reviews can sometimes serve as rich snippets to help increase click throughs from the search engine results pages.
4. And content generated by user reviews increases your chances of ranking well for long tail keywords.
Bad Reviews are Valuable Too
As a business, you would think good reviews are good and bad reviews are bad. In reality, all reviews (whether good or bad) are valuable and a mix of positive and negative reviews helps to improve consumer trust. For a minute, put yourself in the mind of an individual looking to book a hotel for his next trip to New Zealand. Would you not seek out and read bad reviews about your top choices?
But it’s also true that too many bad reviews can be offensive for business.
How beneficial bad reviews are will, at the end of the day, very much depends on the proportion of good to bad.
How to Encourage Users Reviews
1. Make it Easy
The average customer is not going to search for ways to leave your business a review. If you want to attract as many user reviews as possible, you need to make it easy for your customers to offer a review, for example, by sending a thank you or follow-up email after a sale.
2. Review Sites are Important
Most people have their own preferred review site. Having a presence on multiple review sites (or every review site that makes sense for your business) can go a long way in encouraging reviews of your business and making the process more seamless and comfortable. Some popular review sites include Yelp, Angie’s List, Yahoo Local and so on.
3. Be Candid
If you don’t want to, straight out, ask your customers for a review, you can be candid about it and say something like “Thank you for shopping with us! We hope you’ll write about your new Winter Simba Tapered Dress while it’s still fresh on your mind.”
4. You can Offer an Incentive
Some business owners argue that offering any kind of incentive for reviews corrupts the process and should be avoided. However, there is another side to this story. Anyone writing a review is taking time out of his or her busy schedule. Offering a small incentive (such as a 10% off discount on their next purchase) can be a way for you to show you care. It’s all about how you do it.
5. Turn your Reviewers into Brand Ambassadors
Positive reviews are great for business but if you really think about it, the real value of customer reviews lies in the reviewers. If you have a few loyal customers who are always buying from you and leaving reviews, think about how you can further leverage these relationships. An idea would be to create a short video testimonial with your top 5 customers. Nothing tells the story of a business better than a well-produced, sincere video clip from real people.
6. Negative Reviews can be Helpful
We’ve covered this before. Bad reviews aren’t always business-killers. A few bad reviews can actually be beneficial. What you need to remember though is to handle the situation as efficiently as possible. Every bad review is nothing but an opportunity for you to turn a disgruntled customer into a brand advocate. By answering a bad review with a positive tone, you can show your dedication to good customer service.