The Nature Of Online Reviews

In modern business operations, your results, or the service you can provide for customers is vouched for in your online reviews…. and 75% of shoppers use reviews to discover and evaluate products. From food and beverage to apparel, health, beauty, hardware, and everything in between, reviews play a crucial role in the buying process. For business owners, it’s never been more important and opportunistic to leverage the nature of online reviews.

Testimonials, social proof, digital positivity, whatever you want to call it, you should ensure your business has it. We are social creatures by nature, so we naturally rely on word of mouth to make decisions about our own lives and purchases. Here are the main ways reviews enhance or impede your online reputation and revenue.

The Customer Journey

The time between discovering your brand and making a purchase with you is known as the customer journey. Along this journey your marketing and reputation play a key role in whether your ideal customers decide to buy from you or browse your competitors. So how do you ensure you don’t lose their business? This is often where online reviews play the biggest role. But why and when?

A customer journey can last an hour, a day, or even weeks. The warm-up period likely depends on the intensity of their desire for a solution to their problem (your product or service) and their belief in your results. Here’s exactly how that can look:

Typical Customer Journey

Visibility/Discovery (introduced to your problem-solving content & authority in niche) → Interest & Engagement (watch your videos, like your posts, send a quote request, etc) → Relationship Building (responding to requests, email marketing, free events/giveaways, online reviews, etc) → Sale (yay!)

Within the journey, your online reviews are a key element that convert to sales. But not just any online reviews will lead to business… 79% of people put as much weight in reviews as personal recommendations! It’s often a numbers game that offers the final sway.

Since reviews are a part of the relationship and trust-building stage of the journey, consumers often follow an unconscious herd mentality when making purchasing decisions. Often (86% of the time) negative online reviews will dissuade a person from buying with a company. But are no company reviews seen as negative as well? Yes! Even if a company selling almost identical products or services has multiple bad reviews, but has 5,000 reviews total, it’s likely the company with many reviews (even though some are poor) will secure business vs a company that has few or no reviews at all. Why?

Herd mentality. The consumer who sees 5,000 reviews for a product is led to believe that this company secured the trust of 5,000 people or more to not only purchase something but leave a review as well. And because of the diversification in experience readily available for them to sift through, and potentially identify with other consumers, a relationship is built much faster and stronger with this customer just by proxy to the online reviews. They will likely internalize these reviews as word of mouth from a friend!

Written In The Stars

There are dozens of review sites out there for high-demand products and services, but it’s often the top 8 that 99% of consumers turn to to make purchasing decisions. As expected, 4 stars or higher typically generate the most sales for a business despite the contents of a review. Because typically, there are 2 types of consumers, the hurried skimmer and the deep diver. For some, just seeing above 3 stars is enough to make a purchase, for others, getting all the details and experiences behind ratings is essential! 

Two tried and true ways to raise your star ratings and overall positive reviews are: 

    1. Ask for feedback often! It’s more likely for people to leave negative reviews than positive reviews. So sometimes it isn’t that your quality is poor, it’s that you aren’t asking for enough feedback so people can willingly share their positive experiences!
    2. Respond to negative customer reviews. People just want to be heard, so when a business takes the time to respond to a problem or concern with compassion and action, it is 4x more likely that the same customer will later change the negative review to a neutral or more positive one!

SEO Authority

Getting to the first page of Google isn’t easy. There are many factors that go into Google seeing your business as a trusted recommendation for local discovery. Positive reviews will always flag your business as a leader in your field and bottom line, Google trusts your customers more than it trusts you!

When a customer reviews your business (good or bad), it tells Google that not only is your business a real, legitimate operation, but that other people have interacted with it and can help future customers make decisions. When you leverage customer reviews on your site for SEO, or generate them on Google My Business, Google has lots of new content to read and lots of keywords to add to its understanding of your business! SEO rankings have long been known to be influenced by click-through rates. So, if a high percentage of potential customers choose your site from the search results, Google assumes you’re doing something right and will reward your site with better rankings. Reviews can play a big part with click-through rates, especially if you’re generating glowing reviews regularly.

The best way to build trust and convert sales is through the nature of online reviews. Ask for them often and share them on your social media profiles! Because word of mouth is so highly favored, even in a digital age, it is essential you have positivity to share to lift your revenue and customer engagement.