online reviews

When you have a business, it goes without saying that generating customers is essential to your success. Advertising is a part of the very essence of American culture. What may be hard to understand, however, is that despite the exorbitant sums spent by businesses on marketing, word of mouth is one of the very best forms of advertising.

Personal recommendations of products come from the most trustworthy of sources – friends and family. When your customers refer your products to others, you’re benefiting from an invaluable form of advertising. Although you can’t expect every customer to recommend you to all of their contacts, you can replicate this phenomenon to some degree.

According to data from Bright Local, 91% of young adults aged between 18 and 35 trust online reviews as though they are personal recommendations. A consistent stream of online reviews is the best way to increase your business’ reputation. Here are a few key reasons you should generate online reviews as a part of your marketing strategy.

Customer Relationship

Without your customers, you don’t have a business. Shoppers prefer a personalized experience when interacting with a business online because they enjoy the sense of having a relationship with a brand they admire. Fostering this relationship with your customers is one of the best ways you can impact your reviews.

Engagement

Customers – of both the satisfied and dissatisfied varieties – appreciate when their voices are heard. Data published by Review Trackers show that most customers leave negative reviews with the expectation that a business will respond; however, of those who leave reviews, less than 40% of negative feedback receives a response. Setting the intention to reach out to dissatisfied customers can go a long way to repairing a potential loss of customers. Public response will also make a difference with prospective customers who are looking to said reviews for advice.

Reviews are often the only way for you to establish a dialogue with your customers. Interacting with both positive and negative feedback in this way humanizes the virtual component of your business. Making an effort to follow up after a sale is a proven way to develop rapport and improve brand loyalty. Even a simple check-in message after a sale can show customers that you’re prepared to engage with them and genuinely appreciate their feedback on your products or services.

Customer engagement is fundamental to your ability to generate online reviews. Statista found that, when analyzing reviews, 58% of customers place the highest value on recency of feedback. Having an extensive list of reviews will become less relevant to how a potential customer feels about making a purchase if they discover that your most recent review was published five years ago.

Trustworthiness

When shoppers are looking to make a purchase, 55% of them will read at least four reviews, according to Bizrate. That’s not to say that the remaining percentage of shoppers don’t read any reviews at all. In actuality, Bright Local determined that 90% of all online shoppers are influenced by reviews, one way or another.

Your conversion rate hinges on the perceived reliability of your business’ reviews. Establishing trust in this way is not as simple as having an average five-star rating with exclusively positive feedback. Data collected in the same Bright Local study indicates that customers require there to be a minimum of 40 reviews before they consider the average rating credible.

Quality of review is also as – if not more – important than quantity. Revoo, an expert in the social commerce industry, found that customers who find and interact with negative reviews spend five times as much time on a website. Moreover, this extended interaction actually increases conversion by 85%. Certainly, you don’t want all of your reviews to include poor ratings, but the existence of some bad press adds legitimacy to the rest of the feedback your business has.

Search Engine Optimization

There’s no denying that online reviews have an impact on sales. What you may not realize, though, is that reviews are also essential to your business’ search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Reviews are just as important to Google as they are to consumers.

Legitimize Your Business

Google tracks countless online activities, most of which are incorporated into the algorithms that establish search engine results. Search engine results pages (SERPs) are the primary focus of your SEO strategies. To enable your business to improve rankings, there are a number of things you, yourself, are capable of doing. However, genuine customer reviews are – almost entirely – out of your control.

The annual trust and credibility survey by Edelman Data and Intelligence – the Edleman’s Trust Barometer – found that 75% of people do not trust advertising. However, the presence of reviews on individual product pages can increase conversion by up to 380%, depending on the product’s value.

The bottom line is that consumers do not want to spend money without doing their research. But how does this affect your SEO? According to Search Engine People, Google is more likely to consider – and therefore offer higher rankings – to businesses that consistently receive large numbers of reviews with high star ratings. This activity is tracked and shows Google that your business is active, legitimate, and worth recommending as a search result.

Improve Rankings

More specific to search rankings, Search Engine People reported that customer reviews often include keywords and phrases. Therefore, reviews are not only offering legitimacy to your business in regard to your potential customers, but they’re also inadvertently aiding your SEO strategy by contributing keyword-rich content to your website.

Google has confirmed that customer reviews influence rankings on SERPs. This can be used to your advantage when you are flush with feedback, but the lack of any reviews will hurt your business on Google. What’s more, the search engine has revealed that responding to feedback and reviews will also positively affect your ranking. Because responses are viewed positively by customers, as well, this is all the more reason to make this a priority.

In order to generate online reviews, there are a few tactics you can employ. Data from Power Reviews shows that the best way to persuade customers to leave a review is with incentives. No matter what your industry is, incentivizing feedback is a sure-fire way to generate more reviews. Additionally, many customers are prompted to contribute a review when your email outreach campaigns contain a question in the subject line.

Recognition and reputation are two of the key building blocks to the longevity of a successful business. While you want to inspire consumers to visit your website and try your products or services, their visits alone cannot support your business. Having a steady stream of customer reviews is critical for both brand recognition and strengthening your relationships with potential shoppers.

As an online merchant – or even a brick-and-mortar service with an online presence – recognition of your brand requires clicks, rankings, and skills that may be too much to add to your own responsibilities. Employing a white label SEO service may be a great way for your business to generate online reviews in addition to improving your overall digital marketing success. Start generating and closing more leads by capitalizing on the invaluable contribution of satisfied customers.

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