Online customer reviews are the latest iteration of the oldest marketing technique in the world, the word of mouth. In the old days, people would tell their friends about the great service they got in a local shop. Everybody in the village knew who is the best baker or blacksmith. Today, things are a bit murkier. Fortunately, we have online reviews to add some clarity. Every aspect of your business can and will be evaluated through them. People who know nothing about your company will form an opinion after reading reviews your previous customers left on the Internet. Depending on how you treat them, online reviews can help you with your brand identity or ruin it completely.
Online Customer Reviews in Numbers
Astonishing 94% of all customers read reviews before making a purchase. Even more importantly, 97% of them read businesses’ answers to unfavorable reviews. We will tell you in a minute why that is important. But before, here are a few more numbers illustrating just how important online customer reviews are. 94% of people say that bad reviews have convinced them to avoid a particular company. 80% of all customers say that they won’t consider a business that has a rating lower than 4 stars. The only ones they are willing to give a chance are those with 4, 4.5, and 5-stars ratings. To make things even worse, only 19% of customers are inclined to leave a review after they had a positive experience, while more than 85% will speak out after a negative one. That means you are far likely to get a bad review for one little mistake than you are to get a good one for a perfect job.
A Bad Review Isn’t the End of The World
Occasionally, you will get a bad review, no matter how great you are with your customer service. It is how you deal with them that will determine how much damage they will inflict on your company. Remember that 97 % of people who read the company’s response to a bad review from the beginning? This is where they come into play. For the most part, people will react positively if you explain the situation and how it happened. They are willing to forgive occasional slipups if they feel that the company is taking steps to apologize and make things right. That is why it is important to offer a small compensation, like a discount or some other freebie to the customer that wrote the review. Of course, this only works for customers who have a genuine grievance. Don’t allow to be blackmailed by people just looking for free stuff. A properly addressed bad review will go a long way into improving your online reputation.
How Online Reviews Help with SEO Rankings
One thing search engines take into account when creating their page rankings is organic mentions, and online reviews excel at that. By definition, they are the epitome of organic traffic. Thousands of mentions and links created by thousands of people from all over will do wonders for your site rankings. But it is not enough to rely solely on reviews sites, you also need a section on your own site that holds customer reviews. The crawlers search engines use to scour the web for information will find them and incorporate them into rankings, giving you an additional boost when people make their searches. Well-written reviews with plenty of information are obviously more valuable than just one or two sentences. Also, fresh ones will help you more than the old ones, made a few years back. That is why you should always encourage your customers to leave a review, creating a steady flow of fresh content.
The Credibility of Online Customer Reviews
A single review may be made in bad faith, but it is hard to fake a trend created by many of them. If hundreds of reviews are saying one thing and just a few the opposite, people will pretty much ignore them as outliers. Reviews for games of chance are an excellent example. Credible casino reviews written by users or experts are an essential tool for sites that gather and publish them. This is what brings them traffic and returning visits. Over the years, they have built a reputation, and people trust them. That is why they are thriving. Players know they can visit their site and get the latest credible reviews on not just casinos, but games and other aspects of iGaming. They use that information to choose which online casino they will visit. Effectively, online reviews are responsible for creating a brand reputation.
Effects on Your Marketing Strategy
The best way to visualize online reviews is to think of them as free marketing. Every positive review is a small stepping stone on your way to creating your brand identity. This is especially important for local businesses. They often don’t have enough money to compete with large, multinational companies or run expensive marketing campaigns. Instead, they should focus on getting as many reviews as possible. They alone can do wonders for creating leads and transform them into sales.
Online Customer Reviews Increase Brand Loyalty
Brand loyalty can be a powerful force in creating reputation and driving sales. If you have any doubts about that, just take a look at Apple and its customers. One way to instill that loyalty in your customers is through online reviews. People like to voice their opinions and if you actively encourage them to leave reviews, they will feel that their opinion is valuable to you. A company that listens to its customers will always have an edge over those that don’t. Apart from that, you will have a valuable source of feedback that can help you immensely in improving your product or service. People will gladly tell you what they think and what they want. All you have to do is ask them and leave them the opportunity to do it easily, without making them jump hoops.
Online customer reviews aren’t going anywhere. In fact, their importance and influence will only grow in the future. Those who understand that and embrace them will also grow. Others, not so much. Ignore them at your own peril.