According to Brightlocal, 88% of consumers read reviews to “determine the quality of a local business.” What’s more, it appears that positive reviews inspire trust in at least 72% of local consumers. It’s been a long-time digital marketing practice to use social proof as a way to build a brand’s credibility. And first-person customer reviews can be pretty compelling pieces of social proof—if used correctly.
That being said, getting the ratings and reviews is relatively easy. It’s leveraging the feedback and using it to your advantage that can prove to be rather challenging. We’ve gathered three pretty simple tips to using your customer reviews to further your digital marketing strategy.
1. Respond to Reviews and/or Feedback
Aside from featuring reviews, it also helps if you read and respond to the reviews that warrant a response. For instance, reviews that ask questions, reviews that ask for clarification, reviews that are extremely positive or uniquely structured … you get the idea.
By responding to these comments, your customers know that you’re approachable and open to feedback. This openness will also serve to encourage other people to leave reviews since they see that you do, in fact, reply to comments that warrant it. The more interactive you and your audience are, the more others will sit up and take notice.
The possibility of getting featured will also entice people to leave reviews of their own, so try offering freebies or discounts for every verified testimonial that you use.
2. Work With a Digital Marketing Company to Leverage Positive Reviews
Leverage the most positive reviews you receive by featuring them in prominent areas that are highly visible and gather a lot of traffic. If you’re working with a digital marketing company, they’ll know the best places where such reviews will receive the most attention. It’s also best if you ask them to help make the reviews bold and unapologetically upfront, as they’ll serve as social proof for your customers.
These reviews can also answer common questions most curious customers have, like:
- Are you a real business?
- Is this a scam?
- Will I get my product?
- Will you deliver what you promise?
By placing these reviews somewhere instantly accessible, you increase the chances of people actually reading them. What’s more, positive or extremely optimistic reviews will excite the reader and further encourage them to stay on your site.
Add the name and photo of the customer who left the review, if you can. This will make it more visibly credible. But be sure to get their permission first! Not a lot of people are comfortable with publicity, even from something as simple as a review.
We encourage being loud and bold about these reviews because they are genuine, unedited, word-of-mouth publicity that can only serve to further your business or marketing goals. And there’s no shame in being proud about them! After all, they’re fully authentic, which means you deserve them.
3. Encourage Only Authentic Reviews
Only accept authentic reviews. No one likes feeling cheated or scammed, and reading an obviously fake or incredibly vague review will only serve to plant seeds of doubt and skepticism. This means that “buying” reviews or “bribing” consumers for positive reviews is an absolute no-go. You’d be hard-pressed to find a professional digital marketing company that’s comfortable with this practice, anyway.
But wait. Earlier we suggested offering freebies or discounts in exchange for reviews, right? Isn’t that the same thing?
Not necessarily. We do think it would be great to hold maybe a limited-time giveaway or “contest” wherein you reward reviews. However, this would mean that any review is fair game—whether it’s positive or not!
For example, an Asian shopping app called “Shopee” has a point system wherein they reward customers with points (called “coins”) that customers can use to get discounts or vouchers.
For the app’s anniversary, they ran a limited-time promotion that rewarded customers with extra coins for every written review they left on an item they recently purchased. The only “rule” was that the customer had to leave the review on a verified purchase i.e., the system had to confirm that the product had been delivered and paid for. So even customers leaving low ratings and scathing or disappointing reviews received coins in exchange for their feedback.
Consumers can often tell reviews are authentic based on the tone, language, sentence structure … even the presence of grammatical errors! So spend less time worrying about the typos in a comment or the word usage in a review, and spend more time gathering genuine, honest feedback—errors and all. Trust us; it’ll pay off in the long run.
Whether you run an established brand, a local brick-and-mortar gig, or a web-based startup, customer reviews can make—or break—your reputation. Ask any digital marketing company; no niche or industry is an exception. If you’re selling goods or services in exchange for currency, feedback (or the lack thereof) will dictate most of your success in sales. It is therefore imperative that you figure out how to leverage consumer reviews and use them to your advantage.