People are becoming increasingly reliant on reviews to make their decisions — and you’ve likely experienced this in your own life. Imagine shopping for a product, and you find two versions of it, comparable in price. One has a wealth of positive reviews, while the other is drowning in negative ones. Which are you going to choose?
Most decisions aren’t so simple, but when it comes to things like choosing a coffee shop for your business meeting or choosing what band to play at your event, a handful of reviews could tip the tide in your favor. Attracting better customer reviews has a host of benefits, directly and indirectly influencing your brand’s reputation and propensity to attract clients, so there’s no reason not to attract more of them.
What types of customer reviews you'll attract
Before we dig into the benefits, let’s take a look at the different types of reviews your business can attract.
- Product reviews. Product reviews are fairly straightforward; they’re usually short reviews that describe a user’s satisfaction level with a given product or service.
- Company reviews. Company reviews, like those offered by Google for local businesses, generally review an entire establishment, often with a star rating on an external source.
- Testimonials. Testimonials are more in-depth reviews, typically of an entire business, and are usually requested by a business to eventually be posted on a site as validation of the company’s abilities.
- Offsite vs. onsite. For most of these types of reviews, both onsite and offsite forms exist; for example, you can host specific product reviews on your ecommerce site, but users may also be able to review those products on external sources.
Regardless of what types of reviews you’re pursuing or whether you host them onsite or offsite, there are a number of advantages to having a greater number of positive reviews:
1. Improving first impressions. When making a purchasing decision, most users immediately turn to local reviews to help them make that decision. However, most users aren’t willing to plumb to the depths of an online review archive to sort out who’s good and who’s not worth the money. Instead, they’ll run a quick search of what they’re looking for, and will take a look at the first review that pops up. This review will provide the basis for their decision, one way or another. Having a higher percentage of good reviews, and more reviews in general, will help you cement better first impressions.
2. Demonstrating social proof. Having more good reviews for your products or your company demonstrates a degree of “social proof.” Even a handful of average or bad reviews can help you here, as the number of reviews you’ve attracted adds a certain legitimacy to your business.
3. Adding more content to your site. If you offer your users the ability to write and leave reviews for your products, services or even your company as a whole, you could use this as a way to increase the total amount of quality content on your site. Encourage users to be as descriptive as possible, and consider adding a user forum to generate even more user content.
4. Increasing click-through rates in search results. Google offers rich answers in the form of reviews. If you use structured markup to feature the reviews of your site, or if you encourage more reviews through Google directly, you can have user reviews (or star ratings) show up for searches related to your brand and products. If those reviews are generally positive, or if you have a high average “rating,” you could secure yourself a higher click-through rate in organic search results.
5. Increasing your ranks. The quantity and quality of your online reviews play an important role in how your business ranks in local search results. Google looks to third-party directories and review sites to find information related to local businesses. Generally, the more positive reviews you have, the higher domain authority you’re going to receive, helping you make your way into the “local 3-pack” of local results, and possibly earning you some organic traffic on a national level as well.
6. Learning from past experiences. Don’t forget the qualitative content of the reviews you’ll be attracting in the first place. Everyone who leaves a review will tell you something positive or negative about your business, and in either case, you can use this information to your advantage. Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of your business, and identify key areas for potential improvement and development.
How to attract better reviews
Now that you realize just how important customer reviews are to your business, you can work on attracting better ones. Most directories and review sites explicitly forbid you from paying for or asking for reviews in any way (which is a questionable practice to begin with), so you’ll need to go the indirect route if you want to be successful. Aside from simply running your business and providing the best customer service you can, your greatest tool is visibility. Let your customers know where they can leave reviews, if they so choose. Go above and beyond the call of duty for them when you can, and use the information you gather in your reviews to improve your business even further.
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