Reviews. Not just for egos anymore.

As a first-time author, I’ve been watching for review stars on Amazon.com as if it’s the 4th of July. The validation that comes with seeing review stars light up is a definite ego boost. But, online reviews are more than that. They’re a critical component in the way companies – B2B and B2C – do business in a market of social acceptance and sharing.

Check out these stats from PeopleClaim.com:

75% of online reviews are positive.
Lesson: Don’t shy away from asking your customers to write reviews. They’ll build credibility for you within the social sphere. After all, we all want to align with winners, don’t we? Oh, and don’t forget the first-hand feedback you’ll get to help you continue to improve your business/product.

95% of unhappy customers will return to your business if an issue is resolved quickly and efficiently.
Lesson: Unfavorable reviews don’t have to be bad. Take your customers’ comments to heart and do what you can to turn the situation around. If you’re a business owner registered on a review site like Yelp or Google, you can contact your reviewers directly to demonstrate that their opinion matters. Once the situation is resolved, you might even go so far to ask your customer to write a new review.

71% agree that consumer reviews make them more comfortable that they are buying the right product/service.
Lesson: Don’t underestimate the power of social acceptance. Most of us don’t want to be the first to try something new. Reading a positive online review builds customer confidence that they’re going to make a sound decision. Comments from your customers on your site or a review site carry a lot of weight. Interviewing a customer, writing their story and posting it to your site is good, too. Just make sure you write more than “This is the greatest product ever.” Give specifics. Make the review tangible so others can identify with it and build trust in your brand.

70% of people consult reviews/ratings before purchasing.
Lesson: Think of reviews as the market research your customers are seeking. Keep an eye on what people are saying about you. Engage with the reviewers. Join the conversation to thank them for being a customer and augment their comments with more information, if appropriate. Do not under any circumstances respond defensively or start an argument. Find a way to contact the customer outside of the review setting and see what you can do to help the situation.

It is estimated that in 2014, 10 – 15% of all social media reviews will be fake.
Lesson: Don’t buy reviews. Be authentic. Fake reviews have tell-tale signs and they will be found out, perhaps by your competition. Be especially careful of marketing companies that promise you good reviews for your site. It won’t matter if your staff wrote a fake review or if your outsourced marketing firm did it on your behalf, the story will spread that you’re a big faker. #BadForm

Just like real estate, the watch words for social marketing are location, location, location. Google.com reviews show up on Google Maps, for example, so don’t just point people to Yelp. Remember, the web is social. Search engines give priority to sites with reviews, and customers are more likely to discover what you do if it isn’t just your site talking about you. People matter more than even the best written web site, and reviews are an easy way for people to participate with your business.

The easiest way to get positive reviews? Run a solid business and treat your customers well. Then, sit back and bask in the glow of those validating stars. You’ve earned ’em.

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