5 types of customer reviews you can leverage

Customer reviews are amazing marketing tools if you know how to utilize them. Here are some ways you can make that happen.

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Online customer reviews. They’re both exciting and intimidating. A positive review on the right website is a strong form of social proof, whereas a negative review can leave you fighting negative press. But did you know there are ways to put every customer review to use for your brand?

Why do customer reviews matter?

Today’s consumers are savvy and resourceful. When going through the buying process, they reference all of the information they have at their disposal. But there’s one thing they reference more than the rest: customer reviews. Just consider the following statistics as curated by Capterra:

  • 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations.
  • Customers reportedly spend 31 percent more with a brand that has “excellent” online reviews.
  • Buyers reference reviews early and often in the search process, with 68 percent using them to develop a “shortlist.”
  • Four out of ten buyers form an opinion about a business after seeing just one to three reviews.
  • 72 percent of buyers will make a purchase decision only after reading a positive review.

There are dozens of additional data points just like these, but you get the picture. Customer reviews matter because they’re viewed as a tangible, unbiased resource in an online world that’s characterized by information overload. They help customers understand what the product, which heavily influences decisions and puts buyers at ease.

The 5 types of reviews your brand can utilize

Not all reviews are created equal. Some are good while others are bad. There are accurate reviews and misleading reviews. But as the late Dr. Seuss would have said, a review’s a review no matter the form. Here are some common types of reviews your business will attract and how you can use them to your benefit.

1. Third-party reviews

Most reviews come organically from customers who have purchased your product and felt the urge to provide feedback. But there are also third-party reviews, which are generally published on websites that focus solely on reviewing products in your niche.

Take this review of Frontpoint from the Security Baron Website, which is dedicated to reviewing various security systems, as an example. This is what we would call a professional review. In other words, it’s written by someone who spends a lot of time testing products and writing about them.

Third party reviews can be great when they’re positive. They’re a powerful resource that can be shared via social outlets and referenced on your website to grow social proof. But they’re dangerous when negative. If you run across a negative third-party review, you should start by making sure the reviewer is posting accurate information. If the information is indeed true, then chalk the feedback up as a learning experience and use the critiques to help you identify weaknesses in your product offering.

2. Four-star concerned reviews

People rarely give five-star reviews and, unless they’ve had a terrible experience, generally feel that anything with just three stars or fewer is unnecessarily harsh. Thus, most brands are bound to end up with a lot of four-star reviews — with a caveat. Most four-star reviews come with concerns. Believe it or not, this is an awesome opportunity for you to strengthen your brand image.

The great thing about getting a four-star concerned review is that you know the customer is fairly satisfied, yet there is more you can do to improve your relationship with them and fix something that may not have gone right. By typing up a well-written response that owns up to mistakes and goes above and beyond the call of duty, you can show other customers that you’re committed to serving your customers well. 

This review of a Rigid Cordless Drill on Amazon could be classified as a four-star concerned review. The customer likes the drill, for the most part, but just has one small issue with the placement of the LED light. Rigid could have easily come back and offered solutions for ways to hold the drill, or even just assured the customer that they would note the problem when designing future drills. It’s not that Rigid has committed any major offense by ignoring the review, but it’s certainly a missed opportunity for connecting with customers.

3. Inaccurate reviews 

What happens when you run across a review that’s totally inaccurate? If you haven’t already seen these reviews, just wait. There will always be that customer who doesn’t understand your product and posts inaccurate information, as well as those who feel wronged and go out of their way to publicly smear your brand.

The first type of inaccurate review is easier to deal with. If you have the option to contact the customer directly, let them know that they’re using the product in the wrong manner (or whatever the case may be). You should also leave a response and gently correct the customer without embarrassing them.

The second type of inaccurate review is a little more challenging to handle. Most of the time, it’s best to just provide a quick and public apology and encourage the customer to contact customer support for more assistance. What you want to be careful of is further frustrating the customer and causing a scene.

4. Compare and contrast reviews

One very common type of review — especially in crowded industries with lots of competitors — is the compare and contrast review. (Here’s an example for your reference.) With this type of review, the customer generally evaluates your product against one or two similar products from other brands. You can expect these reviews to be thorough in nature and pick apart both positives and negatives about your product.

If there’s an option to respond to these reviews in a public manner — such as through a comment — you should definitely do so. But even if there isn’t that option, you should contact the reviewer directly and thank them for their feedback. You can also take this opportunity to gently correct any misinformation or encourage them to reconsider something. But ultimately, these are the sorts of customers you want to hold onto and build relationships with. They likely have influence with your target market and can prove to be valuable resources down the road.

5. The genuine review

While many online customers post reviews like it’s second nature — quickly writing up a blurb as soon as they open the package — the vast majority of customers rarely write reviews unless they’re moved to action by a particularly positive (or negative) experience.

Positive genuine reviews are the most valuable reviews you can get. These come from people who feel especially passionate about your product and are only writing a review because they deem it worthy. You can usually spot these reviews by looking out for catch phrases like “I rarely take to the time to write reviews, but…” or “This is my first review...”

The value of online reviews

Online reviews make the ecommerce world go round. Customers are becoming increasingly reliant on this valuable form of social proof and you would do well to use it to your advantage. It could prove to be the small marketing advantage you need to take the next step forward.

This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. Want to Join?

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