Do Customer Reviews Really Matter?
The internet has made it easier than ever to find services, products and businesses locally as well as globally. However, it is also harder than ever to judge whether a website or a business will deliver the desired results. That’s where customer reviews and testimonials come in. When potential customers can read reviews, they are more likely to trust a business. Keep reading to learn the importance of reviews and testimonials, how to gather five-star reviews and how to leverage those reviews for your business.
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Reviews Are Social Proof
It is increasingly common to look up a company online before making a purchase or paying for a service. Websites like Yelp and Trip Advisor have built entire business models on the idea of crowdsourcing reviews. Before people try out a new restaurant, they might Google it to see what others think of the eatery. This is social proof, and it is what many potential customers want before making a purchase.
Businesses who have no online customer reviews or testimonials look suspicious to many prospective buyers online. Reviews are proof that others have tried something and had a good experience with it. If you want your business to be chosen over a competitor, reviews are going to be a big part of the equation.
Online Reviews Take the Place of Local Recommendations
Local recommendations are the recommendations you might get from friends, family members and neighbors. Before the days of the internet, you might ask your neighbors about the best local restaurants or which tree-trimming services offered excellent service. Today, it is possible to get local opinions through online reviews.
In a way, online reviews have taken the place of word-of-mouth recommendations. It is so much quicker, and often easier, to search online than to call up a friend and ask them for their opinion. Businesses that recognize this fact and cultivate positive reviews are also more likely to get local business.
Online Reviews Offer SEO Value
SEO, or search engine optimization, plays a key role in your website traffic. Organic traffic is web traffic that appears because users search for a specific term and your website or business appears within the first few pages of search engine results. If you want to boost your SEO rankings and appear in more searches, then having more customer reviews can help.
More customer reviews tells search engines like Google one thing: People are using your services or buying your products. If someone searches for a pizza restaurant in New Brunswick, New Jersey, search engines take several factors into consideration when listing the results. One factor is the number of reviews. A pizza place with 100 five-star reviews might be at the top of the list while a pizza place with just a handful of reviews might be at the bottom of that same list.
Google Reviews Carry More Weight
While it is important to have many customer reviews spread across multiple websites and platforms, Google reviews in particular will have the biggest impact on your SEO strategy. Google reviews are created by Google+ users on your company’s profile. The more high-quality reviews you receive from these users, the more visibility your business will experience on Google search results pages. Yelp or Yahoo reviews, for example, will not have as great an impact on your Google ranking. Consider optimizing your site for Google reviews. Through a Google My Business page, you can manage these reviews and your Google rating as well as view reviews on other websites.
How to Solicit Customer Reviews
Most businesses will get a few customer reviews organically. Customers might rate your business on a Google+ page or leave a Yelp review without being asked. Others might even send your business an email or call you directly to let you know they are particularly impressed. Often, however, businesses will need to actively encourage positive customer reviews.
It can be intimidating, but just asking a customer face to face is one great option. If they had a good experience, let them know that reviews are appreciated. This is especially beneficial if a customer is visibly pleased with your interactions. You might also include a call to action for reviews at the bottom of an email marketing campaign, complete with a link to the relevant review website.
How to Earn More Five-Star Reviews
Clearly, getting a lot of reviews is beneficial. There is one caveat, though: The reviews need to be positive! As important as customer reviews and testimonials can be, they only work if they are more positive than not.
To start, don’t ask unsatisfied customers for a review. This is simply not your target audience. Asking happy, satisfied customers for reviews is a better place to start. If you request reviews via email, send the email from a person, not a company. Individuals are more likely to leave positive reviews if they believe it will benefit an individual rather than a whole business. Finally, consider having employees who deal with customers directly personalize the approach. A salesperson, for example, could let a customer know that a positive review helps them get an annual bonus. This creates more incentive for customers to take the time to leave a positive review online.
How to Leverage Reviews for More Traffic and Conversions
Many of the positive reviews you get might appear on third-party websites, but they can also be included on your own website. Consider adding in a section for customer testimonials, which puts real reviews in clear view for prospective customers. You can also respond to positive reviews on platforms like Facebook or Google+. Responding to positive reviews can strengthen an already positive relationship and potentially lead to a lifelong customer.
Businesses should be proud of their reviews. If your restaurant receives 500 five-star reviews on a specific platform, celebrate that fact! Sharing it boosts your brand image and also subtly reminds others to leave positive reviews as well.
Finally, pay attention to negative feedback. Take repeated concerns into consideration within your business. Also, respond to negative reviews. Making it right can often lead reviewers to amend their review.
Clearly, customer reviews really matter. Positive reviews can boost traffic to your website, improve your ranking among search engines and even lead to more conversions. Encouraging customer reviews in person and online is a smart move for any business.
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