March 16, 2023 — Customer reviews are just about the first thing buyers look for before committing to a purchase or hiring your company for the first time. It’s a trend that’s backed by growing data and an influencer that small businesses can’t afford to ignore.
People increasingly want to see what other people are saying about products before they make the leap to try a company they don’t know. Marketing research continues to support that point.
One study says 88 percent of the online customers surveyed said reviews influenced their purchase. Another survey showed that 92 percent of people said they will hesitate to complete a purchase when there are no reviews available.
Check out the reasons your small business should take advantage of using customer reviews as well as tips on making reviews work for you.
User and customer reviews are a must-have for your marketing toolbox. In fact, not having reviews can negatively impact your brand. The void will set you apart from competitors — in a negative way.
Low-cost, sure-fire marketing tool
Getting online reviews may take some work on your part to generate, particularly if you’re just starting to pursue them, but they are perfect marketing tools for small businesses. Adding reviews to your website and on social media, etc., doesn’t require a big budget, plus their marketing power is already a proven commodity.
“Reviews can have a colossal impact on the behavior of local consumers, and it’s clear to see that a business’s online reputation strongly affects whether customers choose to use a company,” says marketing software firm Bright Local in its 2019 report on consumer reviews.
The company says 90 percent of consumers it surveyed used the internet to find a local business in the last year, with 33 percent looking every day. And, 82 percent of consumers said they read online reviews for local businesses, with 52 percent of 18-54-year-olds saying they “always” read reviews.
Builds Trust and Sales
At the heart of the phenomena of customer reviews is the social psychology behind them – buyers want to buy from companies they trust. The opinions can help form an impression of your company, in terms of trust and authenticity.
And that’s one reason, marketing experts say, you must fight the urge to remove all less-than-favorable reviews. Too many positive online reviews can seem fake.
“Instead, we should accept negative reviews as a way to create the feeling of a more honest, credible and an ultimately more ‘real’ buying experience,” writes marketing exec Sançar Sahin in a blog for GetApp.”
“Essentially, your potential customers will believe your positive reviews when they know that negative reviews exist.”
In fact, one study indicated 85 percent of consumers intentionally look for negative reviews before they decide to buy something.
Also, the not-so-great reviews gives your company the chance to publicly show your level of customer service – how you respond to issues being raised about your product or service.
“Of course, you don’t want pages and pages of one-star reviews on your products,” A2 Hosting says in a blog on its website. “However, a few here and there can actually help to boost your credibility. A 4/5 or 9/10 average review score feels much more genuine and suggests to your audience that the feedback is believable.”
You’re also being judged for how fast you respond to those less-than-positive posts about your company. More than half of customers (53 percent) expect businesses to respond to their negative reviews in less than one week, according to a study by ReviewTrackers, a software platform that helps companies track and manage customer feedback online.
Having ratings and positive reviews across locations – your website, social media, etc., can help propel new sales.
“If you can convince your potential customers that plenty of other people are using your product – service or software – and are happy with it, then you stand a much better chance of persuading them to get onboard,” Sahin writes in the GetApp blog.
He cites a Search Engine Journal study that found that more than 60 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews.
“To put it another way: if your product doesn’t have any online reviews, you could be sending away 60-70 percent of your potential market,” he says.
Great Way to Get Feedback
Monitoring customer reviews on your company, products or services also gives your business a chance to further understand what you’re doing right, and in the case of bad reviews, what you could do better.
“After all, criticism is a valuable form of feedback, and it should be treated as such,” says A2 Hosting in a blog on the company’s website. “No one knows your product better than the people who buy it, so taking their opinions into account can lead to changes for the better.”
So, the site says, while having a few less-than-perfect reviews decreases a product’s average rating, it’s likely to have a positive impact on the way your business grows over time. Of course, you’ll still want to encourage as many good reviews as possible, by providing excellent service.