Customer reviews are crucial to every part of the consumer journey.
So crucial in fact, that 68% of buyers look at reviews when building their shortlist of purchase possibilities. What’s more is that 88% of customers trust the reviews they read online just as much as personal recommendations.
There’s no question. Reviews matter.
While customers are looking at what others are saying, there are strategies you can use for optimizing them, as well as few things that you should just never touch when it comes to generating and promoting your reviews.
Are you ready for a quick rundown that will help you use reviews to your advantage? Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts for customer reviews that every business needs.
Customers aren’t just interested in stars. They want to know details.
Even a hundred 5- star reviews tell potential customers only that other people liked your product, but nothing about why they might like it.
Give your audience what they’re looking for by showcasing content-rich reviews above the fold on your pages. Highlighting just one or two reviews that contain detailed explanations of the meaning behind the reviews is enough to make someone who’s on the fence about purchasing look further into your product or service.
How you sort your reviews can have as much of an impact on your brand as the reviews themselves.
For example, let’s say that you normally have great reviews. Mostly 4 or 5 stars with generous content to back up those ratings. Then, something happened, and a mishap occurred with one of your products.
It happens to the best of us. Nobody can be perfect all the time, and sometimes certain aspects of quality control can go undetected until someone brings it to your attention.
The result is one, or several, less than stellar reviews.
First, take a deep breath and don’t panic. A few negative reviews won’t hurt you if you handle them right, and we’ll get into how to do that in a second. But, you shouldn’t let an occasional slip up define your business to new customers either.
That’s what might happen if you leave those reviews at the top of your review results.
The solution to this is simple. Sort your reviews according to how much they will help your audience make a purchasing decision. This might mean arranging your reviews from highest to lowest, or those with comments first.
Also, be on the lookout for reviews that solve problems, and highlight them, even if they aren’t 5 stars. If a customer has a way of working with your product that makes it more useful to a larger audience, why not let them know about it?
Small businesses depend on local customers for success. Highlighting your value to the local customer base can make all the difference in winning over someone who’s on the edge.
Local reviews can also be worked into your local SEO plan because they’ll often contain keywords used in local searches.
For many businesses, all of their reviews might be local. The key is letting your audience know this. You might feature a product with local ties, or host an event to help a local charity in which a percentage of proceeds are donated.
Strategies like these mean that local keywords are more likely to come up in your reviews afterward.
Your audience isn’t found on only one platform, so why should you be?
Wherever you are meeting and engaging with your target audience, you need to be optimizing reviews. This means you should have and encourage reviews on your website, Facebook and other social media platforms, review sites like Yelp or Google and any third-party site that your business has a presence on.
It’s also a good idea to regularly check in on your reviews. See if they are consistent across all platforms and if they do not find out why.
Every business, no matter how great, is going to be the recipient of a negative review every now and then. If you’re getting reviews, it just unavoidable.
You can’t control if people leave negative reviews, but you can control how you react to them. Your reaction has the power to neutralize the review and turn it around into a positive experience.
First, always respond and do it quickly. You don’t want a bad review hanging out there with the person who left it becoming even more irritated or disappointed. Check for new reviews daily.
Second, do not ever engage in an argument or confrontation with a customer within public view. Sure, there will be the occasional irrational person who seems determined to argue, but those are the exception, so don’t let them dampen your reputation.
Make every effort to get in front of the issue and work on a solution. This lets customers know that you’re willing to work on solutions should an issue arise.
If you don’t want negative reviews, then work on improving the issues that cause them, but don’t erase them entirely from the customer experience.
We live in a digital world where things you try to hide will always be discovered. Instead of hiding your negative reviews, be proud of the way that you handle them. This doesn’t mean that you need to show them front and center. Keep them at the end of your reviews, or if you have limited space include the less than stellar reviews that at least offer a glimpse of your professionalism or offer practical advice.
The number of reviews you have is directly proportional to your conversion rate. Studies show that having 50 or more reviews results in a 4.6% increase in conversions.
So, what’s a business to do? You go out and get more reviews.
Sounds easy, right? I know it isn’t as simple as it sounds, but there are ways to encourage customers to leave reviews so that slowly over time, the number of your quality reviews builds up. Strategies like sending a follow-up email will drive review numbers but absolutely avoid incentives.
“With a blog post, testimonial, review or celebrity endorsement, if there is any form of compensation or close relationship between the party giving the endorsement and the business receiving it, it is required that the relationship be made explicit,” wrote Local U’s Mike Blumenthal. “It is now clear that these rules apply to online reviews for local businesses as well.”
Instead of incentives, you need to make it easy for consumers to give your a review.
Design your site so that customers can easily leave reviews even if they checked out as a guest and don’t have an account.
Negative spam reviews aren’t common, so don’t invest too much energy into preventing them unless you’ve noticed a specific problem.
Even though more reviews equal more customers, it’s never a good idea to purchase reviews.
First, purchased reviews are dishonest and that’s not the kind of business you want to be building.
Secondly, purchased reviews almost always sound insincere. This could be because the person writing the review has no actual experience with your product or service.
Trust me when I say your audience will know. Purchased reviews go against everything that they find of value.
Also, don’t go crazy with review incentives or asking friends, family, and team members to leave reviews. Again, you might not have actually purchased the reviews, but they’re not exactly honest either. Plus, a sudden onslaught of reviews is going to trigger the search engines analytics and will negatively impact SEO.
Encourage real, honest reviews. That’s all you really need.
You can’t get stellar reviews without earning them. The challenge is 100% yours.
The thing is that customers are more likely to leave a review when they have had an extreme experience, either good or bad. It turns out that 25% of customers will only leave a review when they’re experiencing has been exceptionally good, while 33% will only leave a review if the experience was really good or really bad.
That’s a lot of good and bad with not much in between. What side do you want to show audience?
Again, the solution to this is easy. Crush it by excelling at customer service and offering the best in products and services.
Don’t think for a second that reviews don’t matter.
They’re a tool for generating business that’s basically free and easy to implement. The key is understanding how to optimize your customer reviews for success. Now that you’re armed with those tools, it’s time to look forward to future and acquiring even more great reviews along the way.
Also published on Medium.