The online review game has been evolving rapidly over the last few years.
Customer reviews have become a major part of the decision-making process for online shoppers, pushing conversion rates to 270%, depending on the quality of the reviews.
But is there a limit to how well customer reviews will influence sales?
In this article, we’ll explore this phenomenon in-depth, and find the answer to the question “how many reviews does your business need?”
Let’s dive in…
Too Much Of a Good Thing
The goal for the online review game was thought to be getting as many five-star reviews as possible. There’s a simple logic to this – the best of the best is what people are looking for, right?
Recent trends suggest that this is no longer the case.
Consumers have become wary of online reviews. This follows the trend of marketers using fake reviews to boost their business’s visibility or to attack their competition.
This tactic has produced a more cynical consumer.
Close to 85% of customers are now actively seeking negative reviews as part of their decision-making process. Customers want an honest appraisal of the product or service you offer, and that means that they won’t trust a perfect record.
In fact, Spiegel Research Institute reports that customers will spend up to four times as much time on a site when they encounter a negative review.
That trend correlates to an increased conversion rate in the area of 67%.
So striking a balance between genuine five-star reviews and genuinely negative reviews has become the key focus for online marketing strategy.
Cultivating the right ratio is the new challenge to help your business stand out amongst the crowd.
Quality Over Quantity
So how do you do it? Customers are looking for honest reviews to help them get to know your product before they commit, but too many bad reviews will diminish your overall rating and make you seem less credible.
In a recent poll, 92% of customers aged 18-34 were able to spot fake reviews. So hiring marketers to produce fake reviews is going the way of the dinosaur, and a new paradigm is coming into focus; authenticity.
The same source found that customers are now reading at least 10 reviews before making a decision, which is a significant increase from 2014.
The key here is to leverage your online reviews to produce the best CX possible, while showing you have a genuine interest in customer feedback.
Small Business Trends suggests that response times are a major factor, with 82% of their respondents saying they expect a prompt response on sales and marketing questions.
The object is to cultivate a relationship with your customers. People want to know there’s a human face to your business, and the best way to do that is to use every opportunity to engage them in a dialogue.
Removing the formal tone in your customer-facing communications humanises your business, and fosters customer loyalty.
While verified five-star ratings still mean good quality, nobody is perfect.
Having open and honest discussions with your negative reviewers, and using them as an opportunity to improve is creating a more honest marketplace.
Do Online Reviews Have An Expiration Date?
Having active reviews for your business shows the customer that you’re trustworthy. In 2017, Podium found that 60% of customers check for new reviews weekly. This suggests that good or bad, online reviews have a shelf-life.
But what is it?
Research has shown that 44% of customers won’t trust reviews older than one month old. That number jumps to 84% at 6 months old.
Finding ways to keep customers engaged and encouraging them to write reviews for your product is not just a good strategy, it’s the new standard.
In order to cultivate this, taking the time to make sure your customer responses are authentic and actually address the customer’s issue is essential. This is true for both good and bad reviews.
Responding to positive reviews shows that you are appreciative of the customer’s business and fosters an online space where customers feel they are valued.
Even more importantly, by responding to bad reviews with authentic concern in a short amount of time shows the marketplace you are open to improving.
While there are digital tools that will help get the customer to the right agent to address their issues, to get a truly authentic CX for your customers, you need to have human staff respond.
How to Stand Out
In a saturated market place, developing the authentic UX necessary to foster public trust in your brand is imperative.
By following these key steps, you will stand out among the crowd and reap the rewards:
- Foster meaningful and authentic relationships.
This means investing in a team of CX experts who are able to quickly and effectively respond to customer feedback.
It’s important for your team to have a casual tone, while keeping from coming off as overly familiar.
Think friends, but not best friends.
- Use technology as a tool to connect people with your staff, not as a primary point of contact.
Automation is on the way, and in time there will be space for machines to do a lot of the heavy lifting in customer relations, but that day has not yet come.
In a time when twitter-bots go awry, it’s safe to say that human intuition is still the most powerful engine to foster good customer relationships.
- Aim to have between five and ten new reviews each week.
Having a current set of reviews will keep your customers engaged, and show that you are a trustworthy source for what they need.
You can foster the creation of reviews by prompting customers to give a review in your digital funnel, and by making sure you follow step one when they do.
- Be proactive, not just reactive.
The whole point of online reviews is to communicate to the world that you provide good service. But through this channel, we get a snapshot of not just what we’re doing right but where there is room for improvement.
If you apply an analytical eye to the data your reviews provide, you will be able to fix problems and make your operation as near to perfect as possible.
Every business needs reviews – as long as they’re authentic, real and representative of your customers.
If you want great reviews prioritise the quality of your product/service, user experience and customer service.
Relationships and referrals can be built purely from your online reviews – build for the long term!
Want more marketing advice, strategies and tactics? Check out one of our most popular ever digital marketing guides:
- Facebook Ad Scaling Basics: How Anybody Can Scale Their Facebook Campaigns
- What Is Direct Marketing? A Complete Guide To The Most Cost Effect Marketing Strategy
- Social Media Image Sizes 2020
- The Complete Guide to Facebook Campaign Objectives
- How to Get More Facebook Page Likes