WHY ONLINE REVIEWS MATTER (AND HOW TO GET CUSTOMERS TO WRITE THEM)

Online Reviews

I grabbed the driver’s-side door handle but the Jeep wouldn’t unlock.

I instinctively patted my right pants pocket, but I already knew my key ring and fob weren’t in there.

Ugh. I locked the keys in the house.

I’m pretty sure I muttered a bad word or two, which is rarely helpful in any situation, but particularly ill-advised when your little second-grader is standing right there expecting you to drive him to school, but also counting on you to model competent adulthood.

Oops.

I couldn’t access my garage, partially because the guy I hired to build it installed a crappy keypad, but mostly because I’d been irresponsibly negligent about fixing it. I couldn’t open the man door because the deadbolt lock’s key was sitting uselessly on my kitchen counter.

Because Justin—Mosaic’s data analytics whiz—is an outstanding human being (I’m not just saying that), he graciously drove my son and I to his school so I could apologize for his tardiness, before dropping me off back at my house to solve the locked-door situation.

My choices were:

Break in and cause financial damage, or
Call a locksmith and cause financial damage.

I chose door #2. Fortunately, I had my trusty phone with me, so I typed something like “locksmith in Akron” into Google, since I didn’t know any locksmiths.

I got a results screen which looked something like this:

Who would you pick? Yeah, me too.

I wasn’t happy writing the check for two minutes of work—an amount which extrapolated to about $5,000 per hour. But I am a raving fan of personal responsibility, so I chalked it up as another valuable lesson learned.

Customer Reviews (Even Some Bad Ones) Will Grow Your Business

If you’re not using online customer reviews to grow business, you’re giving away money.

It’s that simple.

About 70% of people now read online reviews before making a purchase decision.

Looking at those locksmith results? I didn’t hesitate to call the one with 21 great reviews over the businesses with none. It’s not rocket science. Just basic human psychology. I was more comfortable calling the company that a bunch of people said nice things about than I was about companies that no one said nice things about (even though some or all of them are great businesses with satisfied customers). In the absence of any other information, the customer reviews earned Locksmith Guy my GRATITUDE for charging me the equivalent of $5,000/hr. for his two-minute job.

Check this out. Here are local results for “flower shops in Akron”:

If you don’t have history with any of these shops, are you choosing Robinson? Probably not.

And that’s sad, because it turns out they’re an excellent family-owned business with more than a century of serving the Akron, Ohio community.

Here are their two Google reviews:

Something as simple as getting 10-15 more reviews just like it will DRAMATICALLY increase Robinson’s new-business prospects because they’d then be on an even playing field with their two local competitors.

I’m a raving fan of leveraging online reviews as part of your overall marketing strategy to the point of probably being a little annoying about it. Moreover, I might even come off a tad hypocritical since Mosaic eMarketing’s current online review tally is hovering somewhere around zero. (We’re new! I promise we’ll get there.)

But that doesn’t stop us from strongly encouraging clients to focus their attention on collecting online reviews because it’s a low-cost strategy (often free!) that can have a profound impact on their business.

Online reviews can benefit ANY business. But I believe it helps two types of businesses in particular:

Any business with ecommerce product sales.
Local businesses (or companies with additional offices/franchise locations serving specific geographic regions).

Interesting Stats About eCommerce Product Reviews

  • 50 or more reviews per product can mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates. (Reevoo)
  • Site visitors who interact with reviews are 105% more likely to purchase while visiting, and spend 11% more than visitors who don’t interact with user-generated content. (Bazaarvoice)
  • Rich snippet content in comparison shopping engines on Google and Bing can increase click-through rates by 10-20%. (Distilled)

Interesting Stats About Customer Reviews

  • 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews. (iPerceptions)
  • Reviews produce an average 18% uplift in sales. (Reevoo)
  • Consumer reviews are significantly more trusted (nearly 12 times more) than descriptions that come from manufacturers, according to an EXPO survey of U.S. internet users. (eMarketer)

User reviews increase conversions. They just do.

Here’s another example:

You should make it a priority to collect customer reviews for your business. Here are some tips for doing that.

Things to Keep in Mind About Customer Reviews

1. You want HONEST reviews. If honest reviews are bad for your business, then it means you have problems that marketing strategies can’t (nor shouldn’t) fix. Do your job well, and honest reviews will be more than enough. Never bribe customers for good reviews. But feel free to incentivize customers to leave honest feedback, because the more reviews you have, the more impactful they will be. For example, one of our clients is a restaurant which offers 10% off any meal where the customer shows them the review she left on either Google, Facebook, Yelp or Trip Advisor. (So you can save 10% four different times, even if the reviews are unflattering).

2. Be vigilant about avoiding duplicate word-for-word reviews. No copy-and-pasting the same review into several places. Google is smart. Duplicate reviews can trigger the search engines to actually punish your business listing, as it appears spammy and dishonest (because it usually is).

3. Bad reviews are valuable. I’m serious. A mix of positive and negative reviews helps to improve consumer trust in the opinions they read. Reevoo stats suggest the presence of bad reviews actually improves conversions by 67%. And that’s because 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores, while 30% suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see any negative opinions on the page. Authenticity matters, and people know it when they see it. The best way to avoid bad reviews is for everyone within your organization to buy into being accountable for delighting customers, and addressing customer complaints with empathy and professionalism.

If you’re not already using customer reviews as a marketing tool, we hope you’ll start.

Go be great.

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