How important are customer reviews to shoppers? Very important, as it turns out. In fact, 90 percent of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business, and 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Customer reviews are the cornerstone of a user-generated content marketing strategy. This refers to content related to your brand that’s created by someone who’s not an official representative of your business. Today, an enthusiastic customer who is willing to rave about your products online can be one of your greatest assets.
Here’s a bit more on the importance of customer reviews and how you can use them to your benefit in a user-generated content strategy.
Why are Reviews Important?
According to the Nielsen Consumer Trust Index, 92 percent of consumers trust organic, user-generated content more than they trust traditional advertising. This is because brands don’t pay for user-generated content; it’s unbiased and created by users because they like (or dislike) the offerings of a business. As a result, user-generated content is often perceived as more authentic and honest.
Product reviews allow fellow shoppers to answer questions about products and share insights about purchases. Their unfiltered opinions help your brand build significant trust and credibility with new customers and can be pivotal in increasing conversion rates. The vast majority of today’s consumers will look at product reviews before making a purchase, so it’s vital to gather and report on customer reviews as much as possible. Be sure that you showcase customer reviews on your site and make them accessible for others to view and make additions.
A great example of a brand using customer reviews well on its website is Rent the Runway. The women’s apparel-renting service not only has a ton of reviews (over 800,000 in total) for every piece of merchandise on its site, but they also encourage customers to leave thorough reviews with images of them wearing the product. Using reviews in this way can prove to be effective in enhancing sales for your business. It allows the customer to compare styles, shapes, and brands with women of similar sizes, features, and style interests. In addition, offering specific reviews, especially when they’re positive, can often encourage a potential customer that’s on the fence, to make a purchase.
Third-party Review Sites
That said, reviews are only as powerful as the platform they are built upon, which is why it’s important to also collect reviews from third-party review websites. These sites can include platforms like Yelp, Influenster, or G2 Crowd. Third-party review sites are often catered to specific industries and product types, so be sure you’re covering all of those that apply to your brand.
Expanding your presence on customer review sites will show customers that you aren’t influencing the reviews on your brand’s products. Today’s savvy consumers can spot fake reviews from a mile away, and they know better than to trust a brand that scores perfect 5-star ratings all the time. Because brands can’t manipulate reviews on third-party sites, they’re often the most authentic in nature and will likely be where consumers begin their product research.
How to Encourage Customer Reviews
You can incentivize your customers in order to motivate them to write reviews by providing them with coupons, reward points, gift cards, etc. However, when given collateral in exchange for a review, your customers may feel pressured to leave false positive feedback. Regardless of their true opinions, they might leave a positive review solely because of this exchange. Although it’s always great to receive positive reviews, you don’t want to foster inauthenticity on your site.
Instead, try following up a purchase with an email that encourages the customer to complete an online review. Customers are usually receptive to leave a review, but often forget to do so if not reminded. Give the customer a couple of weeks or so to try the product, and then send the email. Be sure to note that you value their opinion!
But What if I Receive Negative Reviews?
Negative reviews are inevitable. Whatever you do, never delete a negative comment off your website or social media channels. Both positive and negative reviews play an important role in helping your brand be authentic. Negative reviews instead can be an opportunity to gain your customers’ trust. Be courteous and respond to each customer personally to show you care about their views and experience.
Using user-generated content to your benefit will prove to become beneficial in the coming years. Today’s savvy consumers know better than to take a brand’s word over other customers. In turn, user-generated content will soon become more powerful than any other brand-driven content. By capitalizing on your customers’ reviews, you can build a brand that is personable, authentic, and trustworthy.
The original version of this article was first published on V3Broadsuite.