From mobile phones to dental services, it’s rare to blindly make a purchase decision without reading through several online reviews. In 2016, 90% of shoppers read at least one online review before deciding to visit a business.
Even more important, 94% of online shoppers were reported that negative reviews convinced them to stay away from a business.
This means that regardless of your industry, having an online presence can give you many key benefits, which is why it’s becoming such a crucial part of branding.
Understanding why you need online reviews will help you optimize your customer experience to help create a positive online footprint. These seven reasons are crucial to ensure that your customers have positive experiences with your brand.
1. Purchases based on Social Proof
If others around us, even total strangers, agree that it is a good purchase, we are more likely to make it, read more. Today, online reviews are the biggest source of social proof, and they have a clear impact on sales.
For example, Seriously Silly Socks has been able to drive 60% higher average order value on the company’s website than its other sales channels, and it’s likely that the 3000 five-star reviews that populate the eCommerce site’s various product pages have helped a great deal.
“We encourage reviews by emailing customers after purchase and offering a discount coupon in return for a completed review,” Andrew Gill, the owner of the company, recently told BigCommerce in an interview for a case study.
“This has made a significant difference since the beginning of our journey to sell directly from our store. It has also reduced our dependence on online shopping. Customers’ feedback is a way to build trust and encourage others to visit our store to purchase.
2. They make you more visible
A successful brand is also visible.
When shopping for something to buy, most shoppers will use search engines such as Google or Bing. Each website has its own way of indexing and surfacing content. However, they all value original content and customer reviews. This will help keep your brand in the algorithm’s favor.
Online customer reviews give you a steady pipeline of(hopefully) positive content that search engines value highly when choosing which results to return.
If you are ranked higherBoth algorithms and people tend to view your website as an authority within your industry. This leads to increased exposure.
3. They make you look trustworthy
Positive reviews can help build trust and credibility for your brand.
Recent research has shown that reviews can be very powerful in building your company’s online image.
Businesses with ratings below (or above) four stars are often distrusted by shoppers. There is a very small margin for error, however. Companies with better average ratings are significantly more likely to see views converted to traffic and sales.
It’s just as important to know how customers talk about you as much as what they say about your name. A positive impression will ultimately help you increase sales.
4. They expand the conversation about you
Reviews that are positive or negative can quickly spread.
It’s a great way to increase your brand reach by encouraging customers to review your company.
People who have positive reviews are more likely to share them on other sites like FourSquare and Yelp.
These hubs are crucial to your online presence as Google collects data on these sites for its results ranking. Positive reviews can boost your reputation on an individual basis.
The Search Influence agency teamed up recently with GetFiveStars in order to reach patients of Houston-based ortho surgeon Dr. K. Mathew Warnock. This resulted in his first 100 5-star reviews within five months.
Warnock’s website saw these reviews published, which not only increased his organic search traffic by 23% but also snowballed to encourage more reviews on sites such as Google+, Facebook and Healthgrades. The latter being particularly important for his vertical.
While reviews on your website can be useful, happy customers will likely share their opinions on as many places and increase your multi-channel reach.
5. They are becoming increasingly important for decision making
An actively cultivated brand is one that improves your online visibility. Today, this means encouraging people to talk about you in many ways. While social media is an excellent tool, it is not the only way to increase your online visibility. Customers also need to be able to share their thoughts about you via other channels.
Almost two-thirds of shoppers think that online reviews are an essential part of the decision-making process. They are more likely to use Google, Yelp and TripAdvisor to find the best places to visit than to newspapers or their friends when they need to make a decision.
Your brand will be more visible to customers when they make their next purchase decision if you focus on creating reviews.
6. They have a clear impact on sales
Sometimes theory and case studies can be misleading. Reality is not always consistent with a given logic. There are always exceptions. There is a growing amount of benchmark data to prove this. Research has shown that reviews lead to higher revenue.
A study by the Harvard Business School found that online reviews can demonstrably impact your bottom line. Positive reviews are more likely to be viewed by brands. However, even a higher star rating can make a difference in sales.
The study found that a 1-star Yelp.com rating can lead to a 5% to 9% increase in sales over the short term. Even a modest improvement can make a big difference.
Revoo’s 2016 study found that online reviews lead to an average 18% sales increase. Other benefits include increased conversion rates and order sizes, as well as repeat orders rates. And a landmark Berkeley study from as long ago as 2011 found that a half-star improvement for a restaurant made it 30% to 49% more likely to fill up at peak hours. Readers will show their appreciation for what they see with their wallets if they like it.
7. They give you an open line to consumers
Consumers expect more than just posting reviews. They also expect companies to respond.
You can also use these reviews to communicate with customers and encourage positive reviews by thanking them or promoting them. They also allow you to quickly correct a bad review and show you care.
MedQuest, a medical company, was able, for example, to improve its volume and review ratings by increasing the speed at which it responded both to negative and positive feedback. The company’s review volume on Facebook soared by 163%, while it got 23% more reviews on Google.
MedQuest’s Dave Hidding told Reputation.com that “Our new focus is on patient experience and monitors and responds to online reviews — especially negative ones” in a recent case study.
These reviews are quick and personal, giving your brand a face. Your brand can benefit from a friendly and open-to-feedback image.