May 20, 2021 | 5-minute read (982 words)
The influence of social proof, a psychological phenomenon that spurs people to conform to the actions of the masses, can make or break an e-commerce or retail store. If you get on the “right” side of social proof by attaining positive customer reviews, it can pique potential customers’ interest and nudge sales in the right direction.
Reviews and testimonials reassure budding customers of the integrity of your business and its services or products. Given a choice, when shoppers can view candid comments in a presumably open forum before buying, they are more likely to buy from a brand that has reviews.
Since reviews help make or break a business, be sure to periodically ask existing customers to leave one. Just the act of your asking in a tactful way will make them more inclined to compose a review. In the event of a negative review, consider that how you respond says just as much about your business to a prospective customer as the review itself.
Remember, personal recommendations are what every smart consumer looks for. Customer testimonials and feedback are similar in effect to word-of-mouth recommendations, just served in a digitalized format.
Ignoring the importance of customer reviews is bad for business
First off, online customer reviews are significant because they help with SEO, particularly for local businesses. And reviews have a significant impact on the buying decisions of your potential consumers, who nowadays are conducting more self-guided research. They rely on the experiences and opinions of others via reviews when deciding whether to buy.
A few more pointers on how positive reviews build trust in your products/services:
The majority of consumers now check reviews online: 87% of consumers read online reviews of local businesses, according to a 2020 BrightLocal survey. Some 85% of consumers said they trust online reviews as much as recommendations from relatives and friends in the same survey.
Reviews are democratic: Consumers can freely provide their opinion on your business, service or product in ways that may be helpful to others considering a purchase. Rather than simply stating, “I like it” or “I don’t like it,” posters can offer detailed feedback.
SEO is intertwined with reviews: Search-engine algorithms take into account the number of customer reviews. A high number indicates your business is reliable. Increased exposure from positive customer reviews up your search-engine ranking, spurring the interest of more potential customers.
Social media users care: Many social media fans are also checking your brand’s website, increasing its visibility and boosting brand awareness. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter provide an excellent space for consumers to post comments about businesses and products they love or hate. The more positive comments you receive, the higher your search-engine ranking.
Reviews build confidence: Customer feedback is one of the most powerful ways a retailer can build trust with customers. Even though there are no hard and fast rules on how many reviews you need, there should be enough to provide clarity as to what your products or services are like.
Reviews affect business sales: Online reviews are not always accurate, but there is considerable research showing positive reviews improve sales, and vice-versa.
8 tips for politely encouraging customers to post reviews
- Website area or web pop-up:
A simple, short message asking customers how they’re liking the product or service is sufficient. Customers don’t want to fill out anything time-consuming or complicated. You should only ask for a short sentence. Don’t solicit their name and phone number as this can be perceived as intrusive.
Email surveys can be an excellent way to ask existing customers for feedback as opposed to a full review. Be concise in your subject line so the recipient doesn’t assume it is spam. Using a personal note in the email to thank customers for their loyalty and encourage them to share feedback helps you keep improving your products and services. Surveys can also help determine which products or services are most appealing to different customers.
These platforms have become powerful customer service tools. Ask customers how they feel about your brand on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Consumers need a number of ways to be in touch with you.
- Offer discounts or coupons:
Consider whether you want to offer an incentive for customers to leave a review. This may be worthwhile, but there are no guarantees. Keep in mind that customers may not write a review if they don't like the product or service.
- Incorporate each customer's name and picture with reviews:
Customers love seeing their names in print. When you post a testimonial or review, aim to include the customer’s name and photo. This is an excellent way to thank customers and adds credibility to their review.
We know that when customers are satisfied with their experience, they're more likely to make the effort to leave a review, but it's even better if your company gives them a reason to write one. Sending a personal thank you note or small gift is an easy way to show appreciation and spur repeat business. Nowadays, some happy customers post online reviews that actually share the packaging or product on Instagram or Facebook.
You must address negative reviews. Investigate the issue promptly, and learn from such postings’ authors on how to improve the experience for others. Working to resolve the negative experience will increase your business’ credibility as you develop a reputation as a business owner who prioritizes customer satisfaction.
Promoting your business with a social media or website contest can be a great way to generate leads and interest. Regularly running contests with customers will help you gain more attention. You can also encourage entrants to post photos on their social media pages using hashtags or product pictures.