Online reviews have the power to make or break a business. Learn how to harness them to increase conversions and improve customer experience.
When do you think about checking online reviews before making a purchase?
For me, it’s before I watch a movie. Before the pandemic, it was before I made a decision to purchase a movie ticket. I will look at the ratings and reviews on Google which aggregates the reviews on iMDB and Rotten Tomatoes nicely before I have to scroll further.
Another scenario is when I am shopping around for household or baby items. I may not actually buy the product online, but what people say about these products on shopping websites and forums really influences what product I will ask for when I walk into the store the next day.
Same with restaurants and hotels. The ratings and reviews I see on Booking.com, TripAdvisor or Airbnb go a long way in determining what my booking will be.
If you’re like me, you probably relate. I can assure you that your customers agree as well. And these are just a few scenarios out of many. A recent study shows that over 90% of consumers consult reviews before making a purchase.
From the small local businesses to huge hotel conglomerates and beyond, ratings and reviews are becoming the biggest drivers of purchase decisions for online consumers today. Even for those who shop in-store, 51% of consumers won’t buy products before reading online reviews about them.
Let’s dig a little deeper into why reviews are important to your customers and business, and how you can leverage them to grow your business.
Why are online reviews important?
Building trust and social proof
Online reviews are only second to recommendations from family and friends when it comes to factors that influence purchase decisions. While you should do everything possible to describe what your business does on your website, customer reviews are considered 12 times more trustworthy than product and service descriptions from businesses and manufacturers.
Reviews are important across many product and service categories. According to one survey, the most important categories for reviews in business today include:
- Electronics (95%),
- Appliances (87%),
- Health and beauty (83%),
- Computers (81%) and
- Clothing (75%).
A closer look reveals that a bulk of these categories are higher-priced items. This makes a lot of sense since big purchases require a high level of trust.
Ultimately, reviews drive purchase decisions, especially for big-ticket purchases.
When customers trust your business, they are likely to spend more. In addition, when higher-priced items have reviews attached to them, the conversion rate increases by 380%. This means that organic reviews can give your business better revenue and profits.
Technology has permeated our everyday lives over the years. With it has come a culture of misinformation and fake news. The populace is more aware of false advertising and will do anything to avoid falling for the traps that come with it. Automatically, they have resorted to the good old way of trusting —- trusting friends, family and peers.
Consumers trust consumers. 79% of consumers today trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. In a nutshell, reviews are the new word of mouth advertising. As a result, customers expect to find reviews in your marketplace and local business.
At UTU, we combine the power of recommendations from people your customers know and online reviews to enhance digital trust. The UTU Trust API leverages social networks and other data to find connections between users to deliver personalized recommendations. Instead of showing anonymous reviews and star ratings, we go a step further and recommend products and services that are contextually relevant to your customers.
Great source of feedback for your business
Reviews give you a clear picture of how your customers feel about your products and services. They give you a direct channel to hear from them and in most cases, talk with them about your offerings.
You will learn a lot from reviews, whether positive or negative. You can measure customer satisfaction and identify areas of improvement regarding quality and customer experience.
In addition, offering customers a platform to share their opinions shows them that you value their opinion. It shows them that you are listening to what they think. This is one of the actionable ways to demonstrate that you care about your customers and can be trusted.
How to harness the power of reviews
1. Ask and motivate customers to leave reviews
Asking your customers is the simplest way to obtain reviews.
The last time I left a review online for a business, it’s because they asked me to. It was a moving company. Even though I was not 100% pleased with their services, they were professional and did their best as a new business. I ended up giving them a detailed positive review. If they did not ask, I would not have bothered to leave a review.
According to BrightLocal, 68% of customers will leave a review when asked. It never hurts to ask as long as you ask politely. Do it at the point of purchase through the channel that you have used to communicate with them, be it email, WhatsApp or social media. For online apps, reminders and push notifications are great ways to have customers share their opinion on Google Play or Apple Store. If you wait too long, the request will not be as effective.
Eventually, reviews generate more reviews because people are encouraged to do what other people are doing.
Another way to motivate your customers to leave reviews is to reward them for doing so. This can be done through various initiatives like loyalty programs. You have already seen that reviews sell your products and services by organically boosting your marketing efforts, so why not allocate some budget to them? Share some offers and discounts in exchange for reviews.
No, we are not saying buy reviews. Far from it. Many leading online marketplaces have banned the practice for years now. Fake reviews erode customer trust and mislead consumers into making wrong purchase decisions. They are so deceptive that companies like Amazon and Google are constantly working to remove them. Indeed, Amazon’s recent crackdown has seen thousands of online brands suspended from the platform with millions of funds frozen.
At UTU, we are working on a blockchain protocol that will reward users for providing accurate reviews. We believe that you should earn from the reviews you create and the data you share. The protocol will compensate users for creating trustworthy reviews and ratings while ensuring these important sources of online reputation cannot be manipulated.
2. Make the review process user-friendly
If leaving a review is a long and winding process, chances are customers will not do it. Make the process simple and painless.
Think about how Expedia reminds you to leave a review about your recent stay at a hotel. As soon as you click one of the smileys to rate your stay, you are redirected to a page that urges you on to give more details. Furthermore, Expedia makes it easy for you by displaying pre-filled options you can select. This makes the review process a seamless and fast experience.
Expedia also appeals to the side of our brain that likes to help. By reminding you that you are helping travellers like you, you have all the energy to contribute to making the world a better place.
3. Use the right format for reviews
Most connected consumers scan through reviews, looking out for what stands out to them. Yes, star ratings help, but written reviews provide more value. 73% of customers find that written reviews make more of an impression on them over star ratings when making purchase decisions.
Online reviews can be enhanced with badges and videos to make them stand out to visitors who typically scan through websites.
At UTU, we are replacing typical ratings and reviews by providing businesses with customizable solutions to plug into marketplaces. Users can provide more useful and tag-based reviews, with the option to add badges and videos, making reviews stand out and provide more value to fellow shoppers.
4. Respond to negative reviews
You may think negative reviews are always bad, but they can be quite powerful. They show shoppers that your product or service is transparent and trustworthy. The absence of some negative reviews raises red flags for most customers. In 2021, 96% of online consumers seek out negative reviews to make informed purchase decisions. This number has continued to rise from previous years, with 82% in 2014 and 85% in 2018.
All the same, negative reviews can hurt your business if they exceed a certain amount. More than 4 negative reviews can slash your sales by 70%.
The good news is, if you are proactive and respond to these negative reviews in a timely manner, customers will feel you care about them. This builds trust in your business. 70% of consumers are likely to use a business that responds to reviews. While at it, be as authentic as possible, avoiding templated replies as much as possible.
5. Use reviews in your marketing
Showcase the reviews you have received on every platform at your disposal. From your homepage to product pages and ads, share these snippets so that visitors can gain trust in your business. When potential customers see these reviews by people like them, they see transparency and are encouraged to buy from you.
A good way of showcasing reviews is embedding snippets at the bottom of product pages across your website. Shoppers can click to expand, filter and interact more with the content.
Go a step further and share reviews on your social media channels. Highlight customer quotes, star ratings and pictures to engage your audience on channels like Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. By doing this, you are covering a very important part of the customer journey in today’s digital world.
What’s more, customers can leave you reviews on social media through their comments and posts, becoming your brand advocates. A recent report has shown that 54% of social media users research products on social media, with 71% more likely to buy products and services based on social media referrals.
Reviews are no longer a ‘nice to have’ in the digital world. They are essential to building brand trust, increasing conversions and engaging with customers. Follow the simple tips we’ve shared here to leverage the power of reviews and eventually, you will begin to reap the benefits.
If you need help to supercharge your marketplace with a next-generation, AI-powered reviews system, talk with us. The UTU Trust API is customizable for your business in whatever ecommerce space you transact in, helping you increase trust in your business and increase conversions.
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