Detailed customer reviews are the #1 trust-building factor for businesses today, regardless of industry.
You probably Google a movie, restaurant or vacation destination before deciding on where to spend your money. The reviews help you weed out certain options, thus making the decision making process easier.
The same goes for any kind of business. If you have a customer base, you must have reviews. Think of testimonials and reviews as yet another tool, and a very effective one at that, in your content marketing arsenal, to reach more of the relevant audience and gain more business.
Here’s why you should get serious about it.
Reviews show up prominently in Google search
Yes, right at the top of the screen, along with other search results, during a local search for businesses.
Google presents on the right side of the page a snapshot of the business, along with its location and overall rating on review and/or comparison websites it may be listed on.
If a business has been rated less than four stars out of five, it might fail to generate further consumer interest. People may not even bother to look at the company unless it has no competitor in the vicinity.
A good overall rating is a start. It encourages users to read through the reviews. From that point on it is about the experience of others matching up to their expectations or your services meeting their needs.
Customer reviews help with lead generation
It naturally follows from the previous point that satisfactory or above-average reviews will attract prospects. After all, who doesn’t want to do business with a company that already has satisfied customers?
People are especially more confident of a business if someone they know has had experience with it. Put simply, reviews are reassuring to the general public and are key in the decision making process.
Reviews impact your local search rankings
The purpose of SEO and content marketing is to spread brand awareness, improve search engine visibility and direct more traffic to a business website.
Reviews help you achieve that. Google tends to take a favorable view of customer testimonials.
A 2014 MOZ study cited review signals (number/quantity, velocity, diversity, etc. of reviews) are 1 of the 5 most important ranking factors – along with business signals, external location signals, on-page signals, and link signals. The study even goes so far as to assert that, when it comes to local search rankings, reviews are more important than social signals (Google+ authority, Facebook likes, Twitter follower count, etc.).”
Reviews help you collect social proof
Sharing positive reviews from your existing customers on social media is more likely to get you noticed and enhance your credibility as a business. In turn, this will increase your social following.
Make it a point to respond to all feedback, whether on social media or review websites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc. It shouldn’t matter whether the feedback is flattering or critical. Your response indicates that you are interested in what your customers have to say about you, that you do care about their experience.
In cases where it is not immediately apparent what you have been criticized for, seek clarification and don’t get defensive about it.
Accept negative views gracefully and ask the reviewer for suggestions for improvement or look for a resolution that is to the satisfaction of both the business as well as the customer.
This process of engagement will be noticed and appreciated by others.
A positive sentiment inspired by helpful reviews leads to greater conversion
When the word about a business is positive and spreads in relevant circles, its customer base increases.
It’s exactly like in the real world. You go out of your way to check out a restaurant based on a friend’s recommendation. If your own experience is positive, you will then suggest it to others.
That is the kind of chain reaction businesses should aim to trigger online. People often write glowing reviews online when an experience has been to their liking (thought they may also be scathingly critical when things go otherwise). Google is always on the lookout for helpful content, and what could be more helpful than customers’ unbiased reviews of businesses?
Make reviews work for you
Positive reviews are an important differentiator in a competitive market place and it’s also one of the easiest and fastest ways for new businesses to rise through the ranks.
For new companies that have only been operational for a little while, seek out in-depth feedback to improve your services. Ask for detailed customer reviews and publish them prominently on your website. Tweet a thank you to the businesses or individuals that reviewed you and link back to the review on your website. You want to deliver great service and be proud of the praise you receive in return.
You don’t define your market, your market defines you. It is ultimately the opinions of your customers that will drive your business.
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