Customer Reviews as a Marketing Tool
When you’re eyeing a new product or service online or thinking about trying a new restaurant in town, what’s your first step? Likely, your first instinct in the internet era is to scroll through the customer reviews. Online reviews can truly be considered the new, digital word-of-mouth as they offer feedback and experiences from real consumers. For many, reviews reflect how your company is perceived by the public and if your product or service is the best choice to fit their needs. And while it may seem that there’s little you can do to manage them, there’s more to the art of customer reviews than most business owners realize.
Why Reviews Matter
Customer reviews are so significant to consumers because they offer authentic insight into the quality of not only your product, but your business as a whole before they’ve spent a dime. Whether you’re outputting products or services, 92% of customers will hesitate to buy when there are no reviews available. And it’s not just one or two reviews that make or break buyer decisions. Last year, customers read an average of 10 reviews while making a purchase decision, an increase from just seven in previous years.
Along with the power of a good review comes strengthened SEO. One of the primary ways reviews benefit SEO is by simply existing in the digital space. Once out in the wild, each review acts as a piece of content threaded with keywords relevant to your business online. With better SEO and content comes an edge on competitors and increased engagement. And just as impactful as good reviews can be, recollections of poor experiences also play a significant role.
Managing the Bad Review
As you may have expected, negative reviews tend to come more frequently than positive ones. After having a poor experience with a company, people are more likely to share that news. So even though most of your customers may be having worthwhile experiences related to your product or service, positive reviews can seem few and far between. Understand that bad reviews happen to every business. What’s important is knowing how to respond to them.
- Take the same care you would when responding to complaints in-house or face-to-face
- If your business is solely operated online, stay true to the tone and consideration you’d take when addressing customers via email or phone
- Acknowledge issues and thank the customer for their feedback
- Dig deeper by asking questions in attempt to make the customer whole again
- Invite the reviewer to discuss the situation offline via phone call
While working to resolve issues with customers who aren’t satisfied is a crucial, tried-and-true method of building a more personal connection with customers, interacting with positive reviews is necessary as well.
And Emphasizing the Positive
Establishing a healthy and productive consumer-business bond is equally achievable by interacting with positive online feedback. But first, how do you help gather your company’s good deeds when it comes to customer satisfaction? To see an influx in positive reviews, try offering incentives for responses. Whether it’s for surveys, a traditional online review, or a review via another site like Trip Advisor, Yelp, or a social platform like Facebook or YouTube, using incentives is proven to improve response rates. These rewards can range from cash to reward points to coupon codes.
Customer Review Strategy
So we know that customer reviews bear both the magic of attracting new business and the power to drive potential customers away. That’s why crafting a customer review strategy–a plan for how your brand engages with online feedback–is so important. For a solid start on a customer review strategy, plan to dedicate time to following:
- Constantly monitoring feedback and managing reviews
- Keeping record of where your company is succeeding and where improvement is needed
- Establishing a healthy base for all review interactions–knowing the minimum and maximum to be offered via a review response
- Deciding where and how to collect online feedback
Planning how to track and engage with online feedback is one of the first steps to preparing a strong customer review strategy. These strategies are often prepared by agencies and marketing professionals who offer a comprehensive understanding of consumer thoughts and behaviors. By breaking down responses from each platform your company utilizes for reviews, stats can be more accurately analyzed. Ad pros then monitor how many reviews were received and replied to and if the feedback was positive, negative or neutral. With this information, they can better understand positives to be reinforced or further develop for your business, and how negative attributes can be improved.
In any event, monitoring reviews and engaging with them proves to have a positive impact on overall brand perception and your online reputation. So as you begin working with online feedback as a marketing tool, leave no review unturned and remember that there are opportunities to grow from both the good and the bad.