Consumers have gotten wise to a lot of marketing and advertising methods and trust in marketing continues to fall. However, consumers do trust friends, family and other consumers when it comes to businesses, with reviews becoming more powerful and influential than ever before.
This means that making the most of your reviews and doing all you can to improve them can help to support your marketing efforts. When you consider the fact that 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from people they know, it goes to show that there are a lot of opportunities.
Why you need to use customer reviews in marketing
Checking reviews before purchase or when looking for a service is now a commonplace activity. The majority (86%) of consumers read online reviews for local businesses during 2020, which is an increase from 81% in 2019, showing that they are becoming more important. Over a quarter (34%) of these consumers always read reviews while a further quarter (26% regularly read them.
People are also routinely using the internet to locate local businesses, which means your Google Reviews can be seen before your website. Good reviews can therefore influence how many people are clicking through to your site.
When looking at reviews, customers are most concerned with star rating, legitimacy, recency, sentiment and quantity. This means that if you fall on one or more of those points, you risk losing out on customers, especially as less than half (48%) of consumers will consider using a business that has a lower than 4-star average rating.
Recency is also an important factor, as 73% of consumers will only look at reviews left in the last month. Encouraging and rewarding reviews regularly can help ensure you’re always seeing a good number of new ones that you can utilise across your marketing.
All of this shows that customer reviews have an influence and can make the difference between securing a customer and losing one. But how do you use reviews as a tool for your marketing?
Using reviews for marketing
There are multiple ways you can use reviews as part of your marketing strategy, which can help encourage new customers to purchase, improve customer retention and ultimately encourage more people to leave reviews.
Here are some of the best ways to leverage your reviews.
Respond to every review – good or bad
Your customer reviews are only half of the story – you also need to pay attention to how you are responding to them. It’s not enough to simply keep track of the reviews you get, you also need to interact with your customers and show that you care about them. This can impact their chances of coming back, as well as the opinions of potential customers.
Just under three-quarters of consumers not only read reviews but also read the responses to reviews either always (40%) or regularly (33%). A further 23% read them occasionally, showing that your response – or lack of – can be just as big an influence.
Responding quickly (one-fifth of customers expect a response within a day while a further quarter expects one within two days) is important. This is why keeping a close eye on all of your reviews is vital. However, you also need to make sure that your responses are helpful and genuine.
If someone has left a negative review, you should be apologetic and keen to sort the problem out, after which, you can always ask them to change their review. For positive reviews, you should thank the customer and show that their purchase was appreciated. Each response should be unique – although it can follow a similar format – as customers can get frustrated at seeing identical responses to multiple reviews, especially to negative ones.
Your response rate and the way your reply can be an important part of your brand image and can help to make up for any negative reviews.
Feature reviews on your website
You work hard for good reviews so you should make them work for you. Showcasing reviews on key pages on your website can help to build trust and underpin your brand values, great service and product quality.
People want to learn from other’s experiences, so you should make it as easy as possible while also encouraging them to convert. Featuring reviews on your homepage, specific service pages and individual product pages all helps to build trust – especially if you use an official review provider like Trustpilot or Reviews.iO.
If you are a service-based company or cater to B2B audiences, featuring full testimonials and case studies that include quotes from your customers can do the same job as Trustpilot reviews on a B2C site.
Showcase reviews on social media
Customer reviews are powerful content and sharing them on social media can help them be seen by existing customers and potential customers. Not only can this help further showcase all the good things about your company, but it can also help increase engagement across your social channels.
On top of using the reviews you’ve collected – which often include customer images – social media is also the best way to make use of user-generated content, as well as the best way to find it. Just as with reviews, user-generated content can be hugely influential, especially as 62% of shoppers are more likely to buy a product if they can see customer photos or videos first.
This doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune on influencers, as many customers don’t trust influencer reviews. Instead, encouraging customers to share their purchases and thoughts online and tag you in their posts can provide you with a great source of reviews and content to use. This will allow you to tap into the fact that people trust reviews and often look to them to find out more about products and services.
Featuring reviews in search ads
Search ads are great at helping to raise brand awareness and get people to your website when you may not be ranking for certain relevant keywords. Because search ads are so visible, they need to include great content to encourage people to click on them, something that reviews can help with.
Including your star rating and reviews on search ads can help to build trust early in the funnel and make you stand out from competitors. Of course, for this to work, you need to make sure your star rating is relatively high.
Putting reviews in emails
Email is already fantastic for ROI when used correctly and showcasing your great reviews can only help improve your email performance. Whether it’s in a welcome email, a special offer or a sales confirmation email, adding reviews and customer images can help support the rest of your marketing, lead to more conversions and show customers who have purchased that they made the right decision.
Your emails to those who haven’t yet made a purchase are a particularly great place to feature reviews, as that social proof can be hugely powerful. Those who sign up to receive emails but haven’t purchased need to be wooed. Offers and exclusive discounts can help with that, but it can be reviews that help them to take that last step.
You shouldn’t stop using reviews in emails once they’ve made a purchase though. Continuing to show reviews can help encourage others to leave them, which will only help you further.
Maintaining your reputation
Including reviews in your marketing isn’t a short-term strategy. Once you start, you need to carry on to help maintain your brand reputation. However, this doesn’t mean that you stick with the same strategy.
Just as with any other marketing tactic, the way you use reviews needs to change and evolve in line with what your data is telling you. If posting written reviews on social media isn’t working, try user-generated content or video testimonials. If your emails inviting people to leave reviews aren’t working, look at how you can reward them for writing a review.
As consumer habits change, the way you utilise customer feedback needs to change alongside it to continue building trust the right way. This means starting with finding out what works for your business and going from there.