Importance of Customer Reviews for Online Marketing
Do customer reviews really matter? The answer is a strong yes. With the emergence of online platforms, customers can share their experience with the world in just a few clicks. Nowadays, the reviews are not only found on e-commerce websites — they may be across the web — from social media to blogs and forums. And of course, there are websites dedicated to customer reviews, such as TripAdvisor and Yelp. All of those sources allow consumers to freely give their opinion about the products, whether they be positive or negative. These reviews are a valuable asset for any B2C company and can be crucial for a business. Why are they so important? How can companies use them? Here is everything you need to know about the importance of customer reviews.
Importance Of Customer Reviews: Why Do They Matter So Much?
1. Buying Decisions Are Based On Customer Reviews
According to BrightLocal, 97% of consumers looked online for local business reviews in 2017. This number already says a lot about the importance of customer reviews and their impact on buying decisions. What matters, even more, is that 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from relatives and friends. Positive or negative reviews can significantly impact your sales because consumers will look for feedback before making a purchase decision. If they find the reviews reliable and accurate, they will most likely listen to them. Customers want to relate to the reviewers; they want to hear opinions from people that seem like them, even if they are complete strangers.
2. Customers Will Tell You What They Think of Your Product
Consumers aren’t restricted online and can share their experiences as they want to. They’re free to say truthfully what they thought about the product and what they believe is essential for others to know before making a buying decision. They often don’t limit their opinion to “This product is good” or “I didn’t like this product” — they will explain why. And that’s where these reviews come in handy. By having opinions, businesses will know what to improve, the details to change, and the advantages of your product to emphasize and promote. Even negative reviews are helpful as they tell you what needs to be modified to offer a better product.
3. Gain Visibility
Search engine algorithms take into account the importance of customer reviews. A high number of consumer reviews indicates that your business is legitimate and reliable. Your search engine rank will improve if you gain more positive consumer reviews. When feedback about a product is shared on social media, readers may want to look at the brand’s website, in turn increasing the brand’s awareness and visibility. Feedback on consumer review sites can also impact the number of views of your own site. Let’s take the example of a hotel on TripAdvisor. This site allows travelers to rate hotels they visited, in general, and on different aspects of it (cleanliness, location, etc.). They can also leave free-form comments. If a hotel is highly rated by travelers, it will appear higher in the ranking of all hotels in the city, leading to TripAdvisor users visiting the hotel’s website.
How To Get And Analyze These Customer Reviews?
Ask For Them!
The first step to getting customer reviews is to ask for them! A part of your website should be dedicated to the importance of customer reviews, where clients can share with you what they think about your products. You should also solicit your consumers post-sale by sending emails asking for opinions, through a short survey, or an open-ended question. One way to get a large number of reviews is by providing incentives. For instance, the fast-food chain Subway gives a free cookie to anyone answering a one minute survey about their food and franchise.
In addition to empowering your business with crucial data, it will show your consumers that you care about them and their opinions, which strengthens brand-loyalty.
Use Social Listening
On the flip side, customers don’t always give feedback about a product on the brand’s owned media — online reviews can be found on various platforms. The vast amount of sources makes it impossible for executives to monitor every review by themselves. That’s where social listening comes in. Social Listening Platforms collect all mentions of a product or brand based on selected keywords. These platforms can gather consumer reviews from thousands of mainstream media, local websites, and other online sources in a centralized location.
In addition to collecting the data, Social Listening Platforms analyze it to provide metrics based on all reviews. This allows you to compare the numbers of positive and negative mentions. The reviews will be sorted into categories based on what the feedback is about. Let’s take the example of a company that manufactures baby products, and is monitoring customer reviews. After analyzing the sentiment of each review, they will be classified according to their topics: price, quality, effectiveness, softness, etc. The brand can choose these topics based on their business objectives.
This helps the brand identify the strengths and weaknesses of products. You can also monitor your competitor’s mentions to analyze their consumer reviews and understand how they are doing. Their reviews can help you know what they are doing better, and get that feedback to your product team. Thanks to the different widgets that social listening tools provide, you will be able to monitor and analyze all customer reviews and take action.
Limitations Of Customer Reviews
Even if customer reviews are super helpful, there are some disadvantages.
First, fake reviews are abundant on the web. Some unethical businesses post positive reviews about themselves using fake accounts to increase their rankings and visibility. Additionally, competitors could tarnish your reputation by posting negative reviews about your company. Unaware consumers often don’t see the difference between fake and legitimate reviews and thus are led to believe false information. That’s another reason to use social listening — by monitoring your mentions, you can identify suspicious ones and take action. You can also access your competitor’s reviews through social listening to see if some of them seem fake.
A final consideration — surveys. Surveys may not always reflect the consumer’s real opinion. This can happen when the consumer doesn’t directly decide to post a review and is instead asked to complete a survey. Conducting surveys solely often brings biased opinions about your products, brands or services. With this type of data collection, the buyer doesn’t have as much incentive to provide truthful feedback. Customers often end up saying what the company wants to hear, and not what they really think. Other consumers may fill the survey randomly just to get it done, especially if there is a reward. You have to take this into account when analyzing customer feedback, and not rely solely on survey data. The more diverse and numerous your sources are, the more accurate the data will be.
You need to collect and analyze consumer reviews to better your business. They can help you increase brand awareness, improve your products, and much more. The importance of customer reviews will continue to grow as the number of internet users grows. Social listening will allow you to monitor all of your customer reviews from diverse sources in a central location and ultimately provide you with actionable data. Learn more about the social listening tools in the Synthesio Social Intelligence Suite.