Online reviews and star ratings play a part in increasing conversions. But unfortunately, some businesses are unaware of their importance. Even if they are aware, getting customers to leave reviews is akin to an exercise in futility.
Here are creative ways to incorporate feedback collection in the buyer journey to enhance your digital marketing campaign.
What Is Consumer Review in Reputation Management?
Online reputation management (ORM) refers to the measures and actions taken to track, analyze and shape the impressions customers have on a brand. In other words, these are strategies used to control the narrative about a company.
ORM entails monitoring and reacting to brand mentions. In particular, organizations should identify bad reviews and low star ratings as these negativities, unless addressed, can ruin a reputation.
Businesses can incorporate ORM into their digital marketing strategy in various ways. Marketers can, for example, “weaponize” online reviews and star ratings to build a strong reputation. These strategies influence online shoppers to buy your products or services, among many other benefits.
Online customer reviews consist of four elements that influence the consumer purchase decision process.
1. Star Rating
Customers read reviews to know about other people’s experiences, and it just so happens that star rating is the first thing they notice.
Even before reading actual feedback, customers may already make a purchase decision. For example, around 93 percent of consumers see potential in a business rated three to five stars. Anything under three stars could drive prospects away.
Notice too that only 4 percent of consumers would only consider five stars. It suggests that some may view a perfect rating as too good to be true.
At least 70 percent of consumers filter reviews by star rating, of which only 10 percent use five stars, while almost 60 percent choose three to four stars.
2. Trustworthiness of Reviews
BrightLocal says up to 98 percent of consumers “occasionally” read online reviews. In addition, 77 percent of them “regularly” or “always” do. So, next to star rating, people who have a desire or need for a product or service read reviews.
Unfortunately, fake reviews and fake reviewers exist. While 29 percent of consumers are unsure if they have seen fake reviews, 62 percent said they did.
At least 67 percent of consumers are distrustful of online reviews. As soon as they sense a brand putting up fake reviews, they will avoid that brand like the plague. On the other hand, if they see that the positive reviews are genuine, they are more likely to trust the brand.
3. Number of Reviews
In one survey conducted by Bazaarvoice, a product page with at least one review was enough to increase the revenue per visitor (RPV) by 446 percent and the conversion rate by 354 percent.
There is no general rule on how many reviews a business needs but one might surmise that having more is better. For example, a product with over 1,000 positive reviews would appeal to potential customers more than competing products with little to no reviews.
The quantity of reviews, in the end, comes down to perception. For 22 percent of consumers, 1 to 10 reviews give an impression of trustworthiness. Another 26.8 percent think it should be 11 to 50 reviews. Remember, though, that the number of reviews alone may not be enough as other factors exist to consider.
4. Recency of Reviews
Reviews are valuable, but only if they are recent. Outdated reviews, on the other hand, lose their value over time. They may even give the impression that a product is not selling well.
On recency, 65.7 percent of business to business (B2B) buyers find reviews valuable if the latest ones were three months old or less. But if they were over one year old, only 11.2 percent would find them valuable.
For popular brands and products, getting new reviews should not be much of a concern because of high sales volume. But for lesser-known brands, there is a more pressing need to collect reviews in their online reputation management strategy.
5 Ways To Use Reviews and Ratings for Marketing Purposes
Online product reviews are, in more ways than one, testimonials. A positive review influences readers to buy your products or services. A negative review, meanwhile, is where you can demonstrate how genuine and responsible your brand is in resolving issues.
Here are ways to leverage online reviews so that people can learn more about your brand from others.
1. Homepage and Landing Pages
Usually, the most visited page of a business website is the main page. Considering that almost 9 out of 10 customers interested in your value proposition would like to learn more about your products and services from other customers, putting online reviews here is a great idea. In other words, let other people who have engaged with you tell others about their experience.
Most homepages today are long-form. So, as users scroll down, they should see one section featuring testimonials. You can keep them fresh by posting the latest positive reviews.
As an option, you can also include online reviews on landing pages or service pages. In this case, they bring in a new dimension – perspectives of other customers with similar needs. In addition, it sends a strong message that turns a potential customer into an actual customer.
2. Customer Review Page
Create a dedicated page for customer reviews. Interested online shoppers can visit this page to see what other people say about your company, products, services and support.
In some ways, you can think of a dedicated customer review page as a form of marketing page. Here, the reviews are not to sell products or services but the experience of real customers. Even so, it signals to potential buyers that you should be their choice.
Incorporating this page in the customer journey cuts down the process of “persuading” customers to take action.
3. Social Media
There are more than a few ways of using customer reviews on social media. You can, for example, share a positive brand mention on several platforms and channels. In addition, you can feature them on your official pages.
Repurposing online reviews is a great way to build brand trust, loyalty and awareness. It also improves brand perception so that online shoppers who have a need later might remember your brand name and choose to go with you instead of a competitor.
4. Marketing Emails and Newsletters
In practice, companies should not send more than four emails per week. Also, each email or newsletter sent has to matter.
You can include online reviews in one of your emails for digital marketing purposes. Share the latest feedback about a product or service to your subscribers. Consider it a soft-selling strategy that sets the tone for whichever product or service you promote.
5. Search Results
Search engines like Google use rich snippets to show results. For example, it is possible to have your product page appear in the top search results with a star rating under the description.
Brands working with a reputable SEO company can also get their pages to appear in local SEO. Above is an example of the results of “internet marketing services in dallas.” Instead of the traditional listing, Google also showed local SEO companies in Dallas along with their star ratings.
How To Collect Customer Reviews
While people leave reviews now and then, most others need a little “push.”
At least 38 percent of consumers leave a review once per month. Meanwhile, 26 percent do not leave a review at all. It is clear that there is a barrier that companies must address to increase online product reviews.
Today, more companies are prompting customers for feedback, with at least 65 percent of consumers saying they had left a review after being prompted.
Here are strategies you can use to collect more online reviews.
1. Post-interaction Email (PIE)
PIE is an email marketing strategy used to upsell and increase conversion rates.
In one analysis of post-purchase emails, one thing that stood out was the higher engagement.
Open Rate (%)
|Click Rate (%)|| |
Conversion Rate (%)
|Follow Up Emails|| |
|Digital Receipts|| |
Compared to a traditional marketing email, PIE has higher averages on open rate, click rate and conversion rate. Therefore, it follows that using email to get product reviews is a strategy that brands can use. Research by Bazaarvoice, for instance, showed PIE could increase review submissions by 4-9 times. Furthermore, sending a follow-up email can increase review volume by 2 times.
Four things worthy of mentioning are:
- Around 4 out of 5 collected reviews are from emails that contain the product link. So, try to include that as it reminds customers of their purchase.
- Use only one call to action (CTA). That is to avoid being too pushy and turning off customers.
- In most digital purchases, customers receive an email soon after the transaction. But for in-store purchases, try to send a PIE sooner rather than later.
- It may take customers more time to use and test a product. Brands should consider that and send a PIE after giving customers sufficient time.
Customers leave feedback based on their experience – and that includes emotions. Positive and negative emotions are motivators, but there is also a massive gap in the middle. One way to reach out to these customers for reviews is to give them a reason to write a review.
Incentivizing can increase the number of engagements and is used primarily in sales but can also work well in soliciting online reviews.
Some of the things you can do include:
- Sweepstake. Offer a reward in exchange for review submission.
- Coupons. Offer a coupon that customers can use in their next transaction.
- Cashback. If you have a cashback program, offer customers a cash refund in exchange for submission.
- Loyalty Points. If you have a loyalty program, offer points for writing an online review.
Keep in mind that transparency is one of the traits valued by customers, so try to add a short description of incentivized reviews like “this honest review was done by [reviewer] in exchange for a free [incentive].” By being honest, customers tend to trust your brand more.
3. Social Media
Because of social media, more consumers today would like to engage with brands. Many of them, for example, leave various messages on the social media pages of brands they are interested in or enjoy. They either have questions, suggestions or feedback.
Companies, in this regard, should monitor brand mentions and respond promptly. Otherwise, it is likely seen by the audience and potential customers as being snubbed. And specifically for people who shared a negative experience, ignoring makes things worse.
During engagements, one thing you can do is identify people who have bought and used your product or service. Then, share previous feedback, tag them and ask them to share their thoughts (review).
Among your followers, some of them might be active social media influencers. You can also ask them to create product reviews. Usually, it involves sending them free products for trial use.
One ingenious way of creating authenticity in product reviews is to make a badge. Trustworthy and knowledgeable influencers can earn your badge as their views are genuine and honest.
4. Visual Content
Among all types of content, videos have more impact than text. Likewise, reviews featuring photos and videos have more influence on consumers.
Unlike physical stores, customers cannot touch products. In this case, user generated content in the form of photos and especially videos lets customers see details from the perspective of fellow online shoppers. In one survey, up to 62 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product if they see visual content. In this sense, online reviews can significantly boost conversions.
There is not much you can do on third-party review sites with the type of content their users can post. But on your website, it would be best to allow people to submit photos and videos with their written reviews.
5. Third-party Online Reputation Management
Customer feedback collection is only one part of managing customer relationships. So, most company owners and executives cannot focus on getting more reviews. In this case, letting a third-party company control its online reputation is better.
Consider one company that installs and repairs garage doors in Dallas. Its star rating averaged 3.0 before signing up with an online reputation management company. A poor star rating is problematic as only 22 percent of consumers would use their services.
But with a team of specialists helping them collect and manage customer reviews, the company increased its average star rating to 4.6.
A third-party provider, in this case, was helpful because they have personnel who use advanced tools to track and gather customer reviews. They can also help coordinate with customer service personnel to handle any negative issues.
How Do Star Ratings and Online Reviews Support the Buyer Journey?
Customer journey refers to the entire cycle of relationships between customers and organizations. While the stages may vary, most companies fall under the five A’s of the customer behavior framework advocated by Dr. Philip Kotler.
Kotler, a renowned strategic marketing expert and the father of modern marketing, proposed five steps:
- Awareness. New customers become aware of a brand.
- Appeal. Brands create curiosity around their products and services.
- Ask. Customers find out more about the products and services.
- Act. Customers buy the product or service.
- Advocacy. Customers become loyal to a brand and make positive recommendations.
Customer journey mapping aims to:
- Put an end to ineffective touchpoints in the sales pipeline.
- Improve customer engagements.
- Increase conversion rates.
- Increase upselling and retention rates.
From awareness to advocacy, and in fulfilling the goals of buyer journey mapping, user generated content (UGC) such as ratings and reviews play crucial roles. And this is why organizations must include ORM in their digital marketing strategy.
1. Build Brand Trust
Brand trust is a measure of customers’ confidence in your business. It reflects their expectations of products, services and behavior. For many marketers, consistency, honesty and transparency are the factors that promote trustworthiness.
The Top 5 Reasons Why Consumers Trust Brands:
- Delivers quality products or services
- Receives good ratings and reviews
- Reasonable pricing
- Takes care of customers
- Handles issues promptly
Meeting expectations is the best way to earn trust. But that also means there is already an engagement, a personal experience. Unfortunately, people who came across your brand for the first time would not know what to expect. But if someone they trust attests to your brand, they would most likely try your products or services.
Personal recommendations are great, but you must also appeal to a larger audience. And this is where ratings and reviews can help. Up to 90 percent of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business, and 88 percent trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Reading reviews lets customers see if your products or services meet expectations. They can also see how honest and transparent you are in handling customer issues and other needs. Around 72 percent of consumers are more likely to trust a local business with positive reviews. And if you have an average of at least four stars, 92 percent of consumers will try your brand.
Remember that having positive reviews does not mean you are already trustworthy, but it is one step taken in building trust and loyalty.
2. Improve Brand Credibility
A positive review, without a doubt, enhances the credibility of your brand. But no company is immune to negative comments and reviews. No matter how great a product or service is, it is impossible to please everyone. And 40 percent of the time, unhappy customers leave a bad review.
Negative reviews can be disastrous when ignored by a brand. According to ReviewTrackers, 94 percent of customers avoid a business with negative feedback. However, you can negate this issue by managing your online reputation.
Half of consumers are willing to visit a business that responds to negative reviews. So when they see a brand responding and resolving issues, they get the impression that you are a reliable company that cares about customers.
In summary, you can improve your brand credibility by prompting positive reviews while identifying and resolving issues raised in negative comments.
3. Increase Customer Engagement
Customer relationships are many things; one is connecting with consumers. Through various channels and strategies, including online reviews, brands can enhance the customer experience.
Connecting with customers has a massive impact on revenue. According to Sprout Social, 76 percent of consumers will buy from brands they feel connected to, and 57 percent are willing to spend more. Some 68 percent will also recommend the brand to their friends.
In developing an ORM strategy, companies can include:
- Offering special promotions
- Responding to online product reviews, comments and queries
- Resolving all issues
4. Enhance Buyer Intent and Conversions
Purchase intention measures consumers’ propensity to buy products or services. Marketers use predictive modeling to determine future outcomes using historical data to know its probability in the consumer purchase decision process.
Due to eCommerce’s explosive growth, one area under study is online reviews. Specifically, marketers want to know its effects on consumer behavior. So, psychologists use behavioral experiments to study buyer intent in laboratory settings.
Another approach used to measure buyer intent entails using big data to analyze influential factors – online consumer review, risk perception and product type. For example, in one study, researchers concluded that “reviews had a significant impact on the purchase intention.”
Positive reviews increase the probability of a purchase. Descriptions and sales pitches tell people about a product or a service. But online customer reviews play a massive role in increasing the desire or willingness to buy.
Enhancing purchase intention should correlate with higher conversion rates. As shown in another study, the accumulation of positive reviews can increase conversions of high-priced items by 380 percent and low-priced items by 190 percent. The average increase in conversion rates is 270 percent.
The same is also true in B2B. According to G2, 92.4 percent of B2B buyers are more likely to buy a product or service after reading a trusted review. Therefore, brands must incorporate gathering positive reviews in their marketing mix to enhance purchase intention and conversions.
5. Generate More Sales
Reviews are social proof of your products or services. Positive feedback helps customers erase doubts, thereby increasing confidence in their purchase decision. One survey conducted by Power Reviews found that there is a 120.3 percent lift in conversion rates when customers engage with ratings and reviews.
Even negative reviews can help increase sales.
In 1992, Sundar Bharadwaj and Michael McCullough coined Service Recovery Paradox. This phenomenon refers to people who had a bad business experience but later became loyal customers.
After a service failure, some customers may vent or seek redress online – leave negative reviews, comments or messages. But if the brand could respond promptly and provide an agreeable solution, the customers’ opinions will change. More often than not, they become more loyal to the brand compared to customers who never encountered any issue.
Besides repeat purchases, loyal customers also act like brand ambassadors. Through word-of-mouth and recommendations, they can influence other people to support the brand.
6. Boost SEO and Organic Traffic
Google uses numerous signals to rank pages, including the Quality Raters’ Guidelines. In particular, they check a site’s reputation regarding expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.
User generated content, such as online reviews, is critical in establishing legitimacy. Each review added to a page is fresh content that gets crawled and indexed. From a search engine optimization (SEO) standpoint, that is more content that contains keywords. Reviews also add depth and insight to help Google rank your pages better.
Consumers are also sick and tired of overselling and empty promises. As revealed by Power Reviews, 82 percent of consumers seek negative reviews. One reason is to know the quality and reliability of products and services from other customers.
The presence of negative reviews can indeed turn away many potential customers, but they also tell people that your brand is honest and transparent. And if they see how you respond and resolve issues, they are more likely to trust your brand. Google understands this principle, which is why they use reviews as a ranking signal.
People can also post about their experience with your brand on review sites. Some of the most authoritative ones are Google Business Profile, TrustPilot and Yelp. The more reviews on these sites, the more online visibility you gain. More importantly, they help raise your authoritativeness and trustworthiness ratings. These are factors that help make your pages rank higher in search results.
Where Do Consumers Post Online Reviews?
According to ReviewTrackers, 88 percent of all online customer reviews for business comes from only five sources:
About 64 percent of Google Search and Maps users read reviews before visiting a business page. That makes sense because consumers want to see what other people (especially in their industry) think. So not only do they learn about a brand and how it responds to customers, but they also know more about a particular product or service – details that the company may not provide.
Apart from Google and the others mentioned above, customers can also leave reviews on company websites or social media accounts. You could also consider niche review sites.
Top Review Sites by Industry Category
|Cleaning Service||Home Advisor|
|Dentist||Family Dental Directory|
|Electrical and HVAC||Angi|
|Home Service and Contractor||Houzz|
|IT and Computer Repair||HostAdvice|
|Marketing Agency||Top SEOs|
|Nursing and Care||Care.com|
|Salon and Beauty||RealSelf|
|School and Education||GreatSchools|
|Sport and Leisure||Golf Link|
|Travel and Hospitality||Booking.com|
Consumer Review Greatly Boosts Digital Marketing
As part of the buyer journey, customers often read online reviews to learn more about the brand, products and services. But more than that, they also want to know what only other online shoppers can share – their experiences.
It is also not unusual for customers to filter reviews by star rating. So, at the very least, your products and services must average at least four stars.
Using the strategies shared in this article, you can encourage customers to leave reviews by reaching out to them and offering incentives. At the same time, ensure that customers can quickly leave reviews on your product or service pages.
As your positive reviews and average star ratings improve, you will likely see an increase in conversion rates. But using advanced tools to manage your online reputation may be too complicated. So, one thing you can do to ensure that you are gaining the most from using reviews as a marketing strategy is to let an online reputation management expert do the job.
For a free consultation, please fill out this form. An online reputation specialist will get back to you and discuss ways you can boost your online reviews and star ratings with no obligation.