You may be a marketer, but you’re also human – and that means you go out to eat, shop for clothes, purchase subscription boxes and get your hair cut. And as a consumer, you’ve probably read a few online reviews in your years on the internet.
We all do it, though some of us more make more recommendations than others. My friends often tell me to stop “selling them” when really I’m just recommending something passionately. According to Search Engine Land, a whopping 88% of consumers now trust product reviews as much as advice from friends and family, putting an anonymous online synopsis nearly on par with the age-old reliability of word-of-mouth marketing.
The Role Of The Review
In a lifestyle dominated by the internet, millennials see unique value in a well-thought-out purchase decision. Yes, some choices throw caution to the wind ($18 avocado toast, anyone?), but above all else, the younger generation appreciates a world where knowledge reigns. And when authoritative news sources fail to keep up, reviews are the next best thing, with 90% of customers reading online reviews and 88% of customers trusting what they read about those companies reviewed.
Don’t believe in the power of reviews? The numbers speak for themselves: According to BrightLocal, 92% of web users now read reviews and 40% make a decision based on as few as one to three opinions. Customers spend 31% more with a business that has excellent reviews, and only 14% of consumers consider investing in a business with a one- or two-star average.
A New Way To Review
You’re likely plenty familiar with OpenTable, Angie’s List or TripAdvisor, but the vast universe of review sites has spread into countless other markets, from video games to America’s new favorite indulgence: subscription boxes. Their popularity is hard to ignore: According to Inc., site visits are up 3,000% between 2014 and 2016, with over 2,000 options to choose from in the U.S. alone.
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Take, for example, Subscription Box Society, an affiliate of one of my companies. An authority in the subscription box review space, this company gives consumers access to a wealth of data at their fingertips, from FabFitFun to Dollar Shave Club. Peruse a StitchFix review and you’ll see what customers love (and hate) about the curated clothing concept, while a Five Four Club review narrates exactly what men can expect from their monthly boxes.
Unlike public pages like Yelp!, Subscription Box Society isn’t open to just anyone. Writers are pros in the industry, providing an unbiased look at the experience without allowing contemptuous feedback to muddy the waters. Instead, reviewers hone in on the facets that add true value. Sites such as Highlight Reviews add credibility to the brand with ratings and third-party trust seals as well as pricing information and quick feature bullets. This additional information is more believable by a third party and will be more accepted by users.
Making The Time To Share
Despite the importance of online reviews, attracting honest feedback organically is a little harder than it appears. Search Engine Land also reports that 70% of customers are willing to leave a review if asked and only approximately 50% do so when asked. And unfortunately for you, customers who had a bad experience are two to three times as likely to leave feedback as someone who received great service. Companies with strong reputations, however, often know how to work the system, leveraging marketing tools to urge users to share positive interactions.
Brands can entice users to leave reviews by interacting with them in comments sections, on social media or on blogs. You can provide the user a feedback system in your shopping cart or use good customer feedback software. One of the most important things that you can do as a brand is to engage positively with your audience, and never ever post something that would be considered combative, snarky, distasteful or anything that would offend or turn off a potential customer. Sometimes you have to turn the other cheek when it comes to reviews and fight any negativity with more positivity.
Content is king, even if you’re not the one writing. With the influx of review sites, both crowd-sourced and not, what the world has to say about you has never mattered more. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to make sure what others say sends the right message.