Why Customer Reviews Are the Lifeblood of Online Businesses

Traditional marketing was all about advertising. The bigger your budget, the more you could outspend your competitors and secure a larger market share. Those days are over.

Once marketers started taking these ads to the internet in droves, the problem got so far out of hand that it literally changed the way our minds perceived advertising.

The prevalence of these ads ruined our experience of consuming content and gave us such severe trust issues that we eventually learned to ignore them.

Today it’s so bad that we even have the term “banner blindness” to explain how internet users subconsciously skip over the online ads they are exposed to on a daily basis.

So what do marketers do now that their audiences simply don’t trust, or even see, ads anymore? Well, we still advertise on a smaller scale, but many more are now relying on online reviews to tell our stories.

Online reviews are from people just like us

According to a 2018 study conducted by Bright Local, 91% of 18-34 year old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations–and, in a strange sense, they are really the personal recommendations of today’s generation. 

We highly value our online relationships, particularly with those who share our interests and lifestyles, so a recommendation from them is often equally as worthy, or even more so, to word-of-mouth from a friend.

Source: Statista

The main reason online reviews are working so well for businesses is that they come from real customers just like us, who share our desires and our concerns. Since the message is coming from our peers, and not the people who are trying to sell us something, it’s much better received. So naturally, the more good reviews a product gets, the more that audiences will trust that it will work for them.

Even negative reviews can help your business

You’d think things would be pretty straightforward here – good reviews increase sales (they do) and bad reviews result in less sales (also typically the case). But there is one scenario where this isn’t always true. 

When it comes to products that are relatively unknown, even bad reviews can cause a rise in sales, by an average of 45%

Simply making consumers aware of a product they didn’t otherwise know about is enough give that product a sales boost, even if the review is critical.

Here’s how you get those great reviews

Many businesses think they have no control over the reviews they get. Prominent online marketer Neil Patel, who gets many reviews for his business, Neil Patel Digital, says that’s absolutely not true. 

In his own blog post on online reviews, he states, “Everything you do as a business should be calculated and purposeful, so leaving such a vital element to chance is crazy.”

So how do you ensure that you’re getting great reviews that drive sales online? Here are a few ways you can do it, according to Neil’s advice.

1. Ask for it!

This may seem a little too obvious, but it is the number one way to get your customers to leave a review. After their purchase, simply drop them a note indicating how important reviews are to you and providing a link to the best place for them to review your business or product.

2. Showcase the reviews you already have.

You may not have realized it, but chances are, buried in your email or store feedback pile are some great sentiments from past customers. Don’t let them go to waste rotting on a shelf – place them prominently on your website or you can even use them as social media content. 

3. Sponsor influencer content.

If you find a prominent online influencer who loves your product, or may love it if they try it, there’s nothing wrong with reaching out and engaging in a mutually-beneficial (i.e. paid) partnership for them to promote your brand actively to their followers.

Be sure to find authentic folks with truly engaged followings who only promote brands they use and believe in.

4. Reply to bad reviews.

Even if someone says something disparaging about you online, it doesn’t mean your business is over. By responding, you send the message to them that you care about their experience and you’re willing to make it right.

Also, a whopping 89% of consumers read brands’ responses to reviews, so you want to ensure that they will still be confident about buying from you, knowing that you’ll be proactive about fixing any issues they may have. 

Source: BrightLocal

Build a thriving business with reviews

Reviews are one of the best ways to show the value of your product to potential consumers, so if you haven’t been paying them much attention, now is the time to get started. 

Don’t just leave it up to chance, hoping that people will care enough to comment.

Instead, take control of the process and develop a strategy around asking for reviews, sharing them where people will see them and exposing your message to a wider audience by engaging influencers to share their testimonials as well. 

Chances are, at the end of the day, some great reviews from customers will outperform even the best advertising strategy and cost much less, so you really have nothing to lose.

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