When was the last time you purchased a product or used a service without reading a review or checking a rating? Would you book a restaurant without checking its Trip Advisor reviews or watch a movie without taking a peek at its IMDb rating? You’re not alone. At least 95% of online consumers read reviews before making a purchasing decision.
Today’s consumers can evaluate products and services at the tap of a finger, be it a bicycle or a doctor’s surgery. In a world filled with choice, these reviews help customers make the right decision. Whether you like it or not, reviews play a powerful role in shaping consumer behaviour – and they cost businesses too.
Recent research suggests that one negative review drives away at least one in ten potential customers. That means that for an average sale of USD 100, one bad review could cost your company as much as USD 3,000 every year.
So, what does this mean for today’s marketers?
Let’s dig a little deeper into how reviews impact customer decisions and how marketers can best respond.
How do reviews influence consumers?
1. 84% of people trust online reviews as much as their friends
Key takeaway: Reviews are a primary source of information for an overwhelming majority of online consumers.
For today’s consumer, word of mouth and personal recommendations are every bit as powerful as a swish slogan. Now, more than ever, transparency is king. Customers trust reviewers because they perceive them as like-minded peers. Their testimonies are social proof of the quality of your product or service.
Companies that don’t utilise them risk losing business to competitors that do.
2. Products with more than 9 reviews generate 52% more revenue
Key takeaway: The more online reviews the better.
In today’s competitive online marketplace, publishing a few positive online reviews isn’t going to cut it; consumers see safety in numbers. In fact, according to Salsify, customers only start to trust brands with an average of at least 112 reviews. The more reviews your business has, the more credible it appears to potential customers.
According to research, when two products or services have similar ratings, consumers are more likely to buy the one with more reviews. If a product or service doesn’t have any recent reviews, it nullifies the impact of any existing customer feedback. And no one wants that.
3. 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase a product after reading a positive review
Key takeaway: Consumers pay attention to positive feedback.
It’s only human to want the best. Positive reviews are persuasive pieces of propaganda; they reassure customers of their purchasing decisions, provide a more accurate idea of the product or service, and verify quality and reliability. Customers are willing to spend 31% more money with businesses that have “excellent” online reviews. More than 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust local businesses more too. This also applies to star ratings, where 92% of users will only use a local service if it has at least four stars.
Stars make you stand out on Google, as well as for consumers. Search engines begin to notice when customers are talking about your business and those with more stars in Google search listings can increase web traffic by as much as 60%.
4. Negative reviews can increase conversions by as much as 85%
Key takeaway: Negative reviews can increase business credibility.
While positive reviews inevitably promote purchase power, research shows that consumers are suspicious of all-positive reviews. More than two-thirds of customers trust businesses more when they see a mix of good and bad reviews. After all, we’re all human; we know nothing is perfect, including the products and services we purchase.
5. 89% of consumers read replies to reviews
Key takeaway: Ignoring reviews is bad for business.
Failing to respond to reviews isn’t just rude, it’s bad for the bottom line. According to Marketing Charts, seven out of ten consumers have changed their opinion of a brand after they replied to a review. Nearly 9 in 10 customers are more likely to overlook a negative review if the business responds too.
Shoppers will also look for new, updated reviews and company responses to verify whether old issues have been resolved. Keeping on top of reviews reflects well on brand reputation. And, with reputation accounting for 25% of a brand’s market value, companies simply can’t afford to lose face.
How can marketers manage reviews?
Collecting customer feedback isn’t always easy. Research shows that customers are more likely to leave a review if dissatisfied too. So, what can marketers do?
Building a strong review base should be at the core of your customer-centric strategy. This means focussing on both quantity and quality. Reviews and ratings need to be honest and authentic to boost reputation.
There are several ways to approach this. You could encourage customers to leave a review once they have used your service with a follow-up review or survey. Research shows that most customers are willing to help, with 75% of customers happy to answer anywhere between one and five survey questions. Those struggling to boost numbers could incentivise leaving reviews too. Some of the world’s biggest brands have opted for this approach, such as Airbnb and Booking.com.
Marketers also need to have systems in place to manage online reviews. This requires a well-executed strategy that acknowledges positive reviews with personalised feedback that reinforces their positive experience and addresses any negative feedback with empathy. Companies spread across multiple locations may need to implement reputation management software to ensure that marketers can stay on top of customer feedback.
Finally, it’s important to remember that reviews are a helpful asset in any marketing strategy. Incorporating customer voices into your social channels, using reviews in search ads and including them on key online pages can improve trust and boost conversion rates. According to Trustpilot data, 88% of consumers believe ads including online reviews are more trustworthy.
The statistics speak for themselves
Reviews offer today’s marketers a real opportunity to engage customers, build loyalty and boost brand reputation, while driving conversation rates and revenue. They can offer powerful business insights into your products and services as well. Those who fail to implement a successful review management system aren’t just slowing down business, they run the risk of losing it.