Jun 15, 2017
Customer Reviews: Why They Are a Deal-Breaker & 5 Simple Ways to Get Them
You work incredibly hard to attract customers. Day and night, you push the message of your product/service out into the world, sometimes for little in return.
Sales funnel? Check.
Traffic generation? Check.
Sales? Cheeh...ah, not so much.
It isn’t that you aren’t pushing your message hard enough. It’s more to do with the message your existing customers are communicating to potential customers. Even the slickest sales funnel can’t outdo negative social proof, or sometimes worse - no social proof.
Reviews and referrals tip the scale from:
“Oh wow, glad I dodged that bullet, phew”
“Oh yes, this sounds perfect for me!”
Fact: 75% of people don’t believe that companies tell the truth. But 87% feel more confident in their decisions after reading reviews. And over 95% say they find them “accurate of the actual experience.”
And if your demographic consists of Millennials, research shows they are proven to trust user generated content more than any other media.
Regardless of what you’re selling and who you’re selling to, online reviews and ratings are powerful tools for boosting trust, strengthening your brand, and skyrocketing your sales.
Why online reviews are super important
Reason #1: Social proof/Brand credibility
When a customer browses your reviews, they’re digitally tapping the shoulder of your previous customers asking:
“Are these guys any good?”
Even though they come from complete strangers, online reviews garner a lot of trusts. 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Now, we’ve all heard of the 60-second second rule, right? It states a stranger will snap a permanent impression of you, within the first 60 seconds of meeting you. Well, guess what?
You can throw that number out the window.
People don’t trust what you say, but they’re likely to trust what others say about you. The research says it all; to nurture trust, and persuade cold leads into paying customers, social proof is a necessity. And reviews are a great way to introduce social proof into your marketing and brand.
Reason #2: SEO/Ranking benefits
The more unique the content (reviews) on your site about a particular product, the more likely Google is to mark you as an authority for its relevant keywords. And of course, the higher your authority, the likelier you are to have dominant rankings in search engine results pages.
There’s also a lesser-known benefit to publishing reviews – they can be formatted in a way that leads Google to index them directly, and potentially use them as possible “high quality” answers for search queries.
Related reading: 17 Insanely Practical eCommerce SEO Tips to Increase Organic Traffic
Reason #3: Higher conversion rates
Can adding reviews alone lead to more sales?
Yes, it can.
Research by Revoo found that 50 or more reviews per product can bump conversions by 4.6%. And in a 2011 study from iPerceptions, 63% of customers were more likely to buy when the site included user reviews.
Sometimes, the sheer number and presence of reviews (granted they’re positive) douse your potential customer’s doubt. Are you credible and trustworthy? Your 200+ positive reviews strongly suggest so. All without you even saying a word.
Are reviews just for ecommerce sites?
The first thing that springs to mind when mentioning “online reviews”?
Probably online or ecommerce businesses. But, the necessity for online reviews transcends internet based businesses. Consumers are increasingly selective about who they choose to do business with, and local businesses are no exception.
In a 2016 consumer review survey by Brightlocal, it was found that a staggering 91% of consumers actively read online business reviews. But there's been a shift in the consumer relationship with reviews.
Consumers are now more proactive - not only are they actively reading, but they’re taking time out to regularly leave detailed reviews now more than ever:
Reviews hold higher value, are being left more frequently, and searched for by a larger number of people. And due to the increasing number of queries related to local business, Google has placed a heavier emphasis on reviews and ratings. When looking for local businesses, Google usually displays results similar to below. Clearly distinguishing businesses with reviews via yellow stars and higher ratings.
Online or offline reviews now weigh heavier than before. And no, customers aren’t just reading willy nilly. They’re proactively searching, reading, and writing multiple reviews while immediately judging your business based on your existing feedback.
Your marketing might get people “through the door”, but your reviews - and social proof - instill the confidence to buy from you.
So if you’re neglecting publishing reviews for your business (ecommerce or local), not only are you letting potential customers slip through the cracks, you’re also sacrificing them to the competition.
5 powerfully simple ways to attract reviews
How to ask for a review tip #1: Integrate reviews into your marketing and brand image
Despite the change in consumer buying behaviour, some businesses still fail to adapt and harness the power of reviews. Not exactly a smart move when you consider that over 90% of customers read them.
Integrating reviews in your business doesn’t have to be a painful procedure. As well as hosting reviews on your site, there are tools like Reevoo and Yotpo. Third party review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp are also easier alternatives.
In fact, 37% of review readers visit these third-party sites directly. So, if you’re just starting out and have little web traffic, these sites can help you gather much-needed momentum and early social proof.
For optimal results though?
Work towards a prominent review profile on both - independent and third party sites.
How to ask for a review tip #2: Incentivise
They make it really easy for users to tell one another about the product; even giving them incentives. For example, when one person who has Dropbox refers another, they both get a 500MB increase, pending signup.
This type of referral system increased Dropbox signups by 60%. And it teaches an important lesson when asking people to leave reviews:
Rewards and incentives are essential tools for motivating action. Asking for reviews might get you a few responses; asking for reviews with an attached incentive for the reviewer? That will explode your response rate.
For more authentic and credible reviews, focus on post purchase - or multiple purchases - incentives. This ensures that you’re not getting reviews for freebies or competition entries. And it removes the suspicion of you crossing the “borderline bribing people” line.
How to ask for a review tip #3: Utilise the momentum and milestones
Ever got an email asking for a review weeks after using a product/service?
If you did, chances are, you never left one.
And for good reason…
It demands effort on your part.
By the time you've been asked to leave a review, your experience is a distant glint in the vast space of your memory and now, weeks later, you’re being asked to recollect the experience and elaborate on things that made their product great?
Meh, “ain’t nobody got time for that”.
So. how do you guarantee chances of a higher response?
Do the exact opposite!
Harness existing momentum and interactions by asking for reviews when customer are “hot”.
You’ll get the best response when the value that you’ve delivered to the customer is at the top of their mind. This boosts their chances of responding, because it’s easier to recall a positive experience in the last hour, than some long-gone event that happened two weeks ago.
So how do you know when a customer is hot?
Milestones are an awesome metric to track. They give a reliable indication of a customer’s commitment towards your product. Therefore, telling you:
- The likelihood of repeat business
- The chances of a customer upgrading
- And how likely that customer is to refer/review you.
Specific customer milestones will vary for different businesses, some examples are:
- After sending a payment through: Received value will definitely resurface when paying for it. Be sure to reinforce how they benefit, then ask for the review.
- After receiving value from you: Did you save your customer X amount this week? Did they get X more leads? Did their productivity go up? Remind them, reinforce the positive benefit they’ve experienced, then ask for the review.
How to ask for a review tip #4: Make it a breeze
The easier something is, the more we’re likely to do it.
Human behaviour isn’t always reliable, but one guarantee is that we’d all rather push two buttons in the elevator than climb those 50 daunting stairs. When hunting for reviews, you can use this innate human trait to your advantage:
Make leaving reviews a smooth, painless process and you’re likely to get more of them.
Simple advice, but how do you implement it?
- Use a rating system: Star system or a scoring system, it doesn’t matter. Have an element of concrete palpability that’s visual. This makes it easier for customers to reflect their opinions. Research shows star ratings and numbered reviews quantify social proof and credibility, this can lead to boosts in your click-through rates of up to 10-20%.
- Ask for only the essential details: Do you really need your customer's location? Gender? These may be relevant to your review, they may not. But, it’s a proven fact, the less details people have to fill in, the higher the chance of them taking action.
People are more than happy to leave a review when you take the hassle out of it.
How to ask for a review tip #5: Focus on your raving fans and customers
The customer that’s more likely to leave a shining review is the one benefitting the most from your product/service. If you’re using the NPS system to track customer satisfaction (which you should be), these customers are your “promoters” - people who are throwing you 9 and 10 ratings and singing your praises.
A shortcut to increasing quality and quantity of reviews is to ask these customers.
Calorie tracking app MyFitnessPal implements this to good effect. When you hit your weight loss milestones, they throw you a mini in-app celebration, after congratulating you on accomplishing your goal - or after long streak of consistent tracking - they’ll ask you to review the app.
This works well because it uses the momentum of fresh value being delivered and targets loyal customers, who are naturally more likely to leave a positive review.
Why You Shouldn’t Hide Negative Reviews
A couple of one-star reviews aye?
You might be tempted to get them removed ASAP, but please resist the temptation. Contrary to your initial reaction, negative reviews can help and grow your reputation instead of damaging it.
- Negative reviews can be handled
- They often reveal how you can improve your service
- A bad review doesn’t render you a bad business
- The right ratio of good - bad reviews can breed more trust than just perfect reviews
Here are a couple of reasons why you should NOT hide negative reviews:
Reason #1: Negative reviews open up a conversation
Customers who look for negative feedback are 7x more likely to buy, says research. This shows that negative reviews can indeed become positive experiences. The customer could easily vow to never deal with you ever again, spouting their displeasure to anyone in hearing range.
But they didn’t. Instead, they opened a conversation.
A negative review leaves thing open to discussion. Allowing you to exercise some degree of control over the situation. Keep this frame of mind with reviews:
Their review is a discussion that stems from a negative experience related to you. It’s your job to turn that into something positive.
Do this by apologising for their bad experience, then tackling the problem they’re complaining about head on.
Slow delivery? Guarantee them faster service.
Goods damaged? Let them know new ones are en route.
Not only does this transform an angry customer into a praiseful endorser, it also proves your sincere loyalty to your customers.
Reason #2: You’ll come across as “too perfect”
“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Whether it’s a random stranger who’s way too nice, a piece of land that’s disturbingly serene, or a page of perfect reviews - we all raise an eyebrow at anything that seems perfect, or free of flaw.
It’s why we distrust people who are too nice upon immediate contact. It’s also why, in some cases, bad reviews have improved conversions by 67%. Think about it, you see a business with 5-star reviews. Not a single negative opinion, not even a 4.9 rating, but a perfect, nice round flawless 5.
“Someone’s pockets must be heavy for this perfect review score”.
Studies confirm our distrust of seemingly perfect ratings. This HBR study in 2013 found when perfect reviews scores are displayed, 95 percent of people thought they were fake.
Therefore, a few negative reviews reinforces authenticity and trust. Now, reaping benefits from bad reviews depends on one thing; the ratio.
A negative review (that you’ve responded to properly) sandwiched by tons of positive ones, boosts your honesty and credibility by revealing your “flaws” or imperfections. But if 50% of your reviews are negative, expect consumer alarm bells to ring, and an exodus off of your site.
Handling negative reviews: Use the simple H.E.A.R.D. method
Yelp phrased it best: “negative reviews feel like a punch to the gut”.
But don’t respond reactively when you get one. Avoid:
- Getting defensive: Blindly defending your stance and actions makes you look petulant
- Attacking the customer: Pointing out why a customer is wrong doesn’t fix the problem and doesn’t add value. It just adds gasoline to their existing anger
- Ignoring or removing every bad review: Most are opportunities to showcase your kick ass customer service and improve your business. Burying your head in the sand won’t help you solve problems and grow.
So how do you deal with negative reviews?
Flip the negative review into a positive experience by empathising and solving the problem. There’s an excellent systematic step-by-step method for doing this, it’s called the H.E.A.R.D. method.
How to handle negative reviews tip #1: Hear
Let the customer get it all off their chest. They’re stressed and upset. Listen to them carefully and you’ll draw out the root of their problem.
How to handle negative reviews tip #2: Empathise
Show that you understand how they feel. Describe how you know what it’s like to experience what they’re going through. For stronger impact - briefly touch on an experience you had similar to theirs. This creates a stronger emotional and mental connection.
How to handle negative reviews tip #3: Apologise
Be honest and own up. It may not have even been entirely your fault, but sincere apologies have a way of diffusing tense situations.
How to handle negative reviews tip #4: Resolve
Get the problem solved, ASAP. Ever phoned a company with a complaint and got it sorted immediately? Didn’t it feel great? Whatever problem your customer has, remove that hurdle, or point of frustration. Don’t be afraid to ask: “What can we do to make this right for you?”.
How to handle negative reviews tip #5: Diagnose
Why did the mistake occur in the first place? Remove blame from the equation and adapt so you don’t repeat the same mistake.
In the past decade, customer behaviour and business practices have transformed. Yes, good copy, right sales funnels, and advertising are important. But they no longer have the impact they did before.
Today’s consumer is better prepared, more aware, and more connected than ever before. Sure, advertising will get customers to your door, but ultimately, it’s what other customers say about you that closes the deal.
And that’s why asking for reviews and building social proof is a must. Hopefully, you learned a thing or two about doing so in this article!