Online reviews are essential to verify the quality of any company’s products and services. They serve as third-party endorsements of a business.
They’re also becoming more and more necessary for generating leads and conversions. In fact, 68% of millennials trust online reviews more than traditional forms of advertising. Let’s not forget that millennials also account for about $600 billion in annual spending, which is projected to reach $1.4 trillion in 2020.
Not only can focusing on reviews as a lead generator help save you thousands in advertising, but it also indicates that you take external feedback to heart and strive to improve continuously.
How should you go about cultivating an impressive, engaging online review portfolio? Follow the following three steps to get started:
- Encourage consumers to leave positive, verified reviews at the point of sale
- Respond to both positive and negative reviews publicly on all platforms
- Feature top reviews on your website and frequently update them
Adhering to these guidelines will help you generate leads and foster a positive reputation for your company online. Potential buyers will be more likely to become loyal customers as a result of your hard work and transparency.
Encourage Consumers to Leave Reviews
To begin increasing your number of reviews online, it’s helpful to ask your satisfied customers to leave one.
Studies show that those who read reviews to make purchasing decisions value star ratings, review quantity, thorough comments, and verified (not fake) reviews.
Your company needs several reviews to garner a reader’s trust. Reviews are primarily used as a means of discovering a diverse, holistic set of opinions to thoroughly inform their decision-making.
They will not feel properly informed if you only have a couple of reviews.
According to research from BrightLocal, having ten reviews seems to be the magic number. The highest percentage of those surveyed (85%) indicated that they’d read up to 10 reviews before deciding on a company.
Having at least ten online reviews should serve as a goal for businesses looking to generate leads through reviews.
While quantity is important for building trust through reviews, thorough review information is also necessary. Users will also not appreciate reviews that do not contain helpful, thorough information.
Customers Trust Reviews, Especially When They’re Verified
Reviews have become popular and convincing in purchasing decisions because customers implicitly trust them.
For this reason, verification of reviews is crucial but often overlooked. According to reporting by the Washington Post, about 61% of Amazon’s electronics reviews were fake in 2018.
While users may not always know a review is fake, review audit services can easily detect fraudulent reviews. You do not want to be exposed for padding your reviews with fakes. It’ll undermine consumer trust in your brand.
Additionally, and likely most obviously, readers care about your company’s star rating. Usually out of five, this metric quickly communicates how positive other customers’ experiences were with your company. The number is often determined by averaging each individual review’s score together. This means that avoiding negative, one-star reviews is critical.
Negative review consumer research indicates the following:
- A negative review has the potential to deter 40% of potential customers from further consideration of your company
- For each additional star your business earns, your revenue will likely increase by 5%–9%.
- Customers invest 31% more in companies with many positive reviews
- Consumers aren’t likely to purchase from companies with too many negative reviews
Star ratings, because they’re the clearest, identifiable metric surrounding online reviews, have a significant impact on how customers perceive your business. To appear credible, you want to have many thorough, positive reviews that are written by real consumers.
Just how do you accomplish this, especially through your customers who’re not naturally inclined to leave reviews for positive experiences? The answer is simple: just ask!
To make the process as easy as possible on your happy customers, tell them what you’d like to see from a good review. For instance, request that they discuss your product’s results. That’ll ensure the review is thorough.
Verified, positive client reviews encourage consumers to invest and continue to invest in your brand.
Request Reviews at the Point-of-Sale
It’s also helpful to request a review from your customers at or shortly after the point of sale.
That way, your company and their experience is fresh in their minds. Those who’ve been recently impressed by your business’s capabilities will be more likely to leave you a high-scoring, thorough review.
When a review is thorough and specific to an individual’s experience, potential customers will trust it to be verified, which emphasizes the importance of timeliness.
Lastly, to encourage more reviewers, offer rewards for leaving reviews. That’ll incentivize leaving a review, without sacrificing the honesty and credibility of a verified review. Companies like IPSY have been successful with this.
IPSY, a subscription beauty box company, offers customers points for leaving product reviews. Subscribers can use the points to earn free products.
That incentive is enough to influence volumes of shoppers to review makeup and skincare products (myself included).
In order to successfully obtain reviews that are thorough, verified, and high-scoring in large quantities, it’s easy to start by asking your customers for what you need. You’ll receive more positive reviews that way, which will give you a solid foundation of online review to spark sales and conversions.
Respond to Customer Concerns on Review Platforms
There are many benefits to responding to both positive and negative reviews that help both your business and the customer’s experience with your company.
First, it’s important to recognize the importance of responding to reviews publicly. Just over half (51%) of small businesses surveyed by Clutch reply to negative comments publicly.
That means that 49% either don’t respond to these comments at all or do so in private. Even if you’ve reached out to the customer privately, it’s important to respond in an open, online review forum for prospective customers to see.
When customers are able to view your responses, it gives them a feel for your brand voice and makes them feel like you care for all of your customers.
While it’s important that you address consumer concerns with responses, positive reviews also deserve a response. If prospective buyers only see you replying when something has gone wrong, they’ll assume that you’re merely looking out for your reputation instead of enhancing the consumer experience for everyone.
That being said, positive review responses should look different from negative review responses.
Positive reviews should celebrate the good experience. They should thank the customer for their review and proceed to offer further suggestions and recommendations on other products. That’ll encourage them to continue patronizing your business.
Negative reviews should be handled differently. Approach the customer with empathy, apologizing for their negative experience. If possible, suggest a solution to their problem and invite them to reach out to you personally to further discuss the issue. Doing so will make them feel heard and valued, despite their negative experience.
While responding to both positive and negative reviews should be done primarily for the sake of consumers, your company can also boost its SEO through review responses.
As shown in the chart below, “review signals” made up 15% of the 2018 local search ranking factors.
That 15% review signals metric is made up of the following and various other factors:
- Review quantity
- Review velocity
- Review diversity
A boost in SEO resulting from review responses will make your business appear valid, trustworthy, and engaging while remaining easy to find via popular search engines.
Feature Top Feedback on Your Website
A simple way to draw in leads through reviews is to show off top reviews on your own site. It gives customers another way to find your reviews, in addition to leading review sites.
According to CWS, viewers who read third-party reviews on a company’s website are 58% more likely to invest in products and services. The on-site reviews serve as on-platform endorsements that encourage customers to convert.
Users are also more likely to spend more time on your site if they can find reviews there. You can count on an additional 5–10 minutes spent on your website per user with the help of reviews. This means that they’re more likely to spend time clicking onto other parts of your site and convert.
As stated above, online reviews can improve your site’s SEO. That isn’t only true through review responses. Linking your site to external reviews can also have this effect. Local search engines will pick up this activity and elevate your company in searches.
Social media interactions can also serve a form of reviews and present a great opportunity for
your site. As shown below, the Superhot video game has successfully curated popular mentions from leading social media platforms and hosted them on its site.
Interested players are able to examine these mentions like reviews to help them decide whether or not they’d like to play themselves.
It’s important to make your reviews as accessible as possible to those looking to use them while flowing through the sales funnel. There’s no better place to showcase your excellent reviews and assist them toward converting than your company’s website.
Leverage Your Online Reviews to Increase Conversions
Generating leads is essential to running a successful business. By providing objective recommendations for your products and services, reviews are able to help you in your lead generation efforts in a multitude of ways. To make this work, you need to make sure you’re leveraging them properly.
Start out by asking customers that have been particularly impressed by your services to consider leaving a review. That’ll help you grow your portfolio of positive, thorough, and verified reviews.
Once you have reviews, make sure you’re interacting and responding to your clients that wrote them. This will help affirm their efforts and mitigate any negative consumer experiences.
Finally, showcasing your reviews on your website will make it easy for prospective customers to engage with you. After all, 92% of customers read online reviews before investing in a product or service.
You should make sure your company is doing all it can to maximize the leads reviews can generate.
-Written by Nicole Schlabach, a Content & Editorial Associate for Clutch.