A Review of Reviews

reviews

Just how important are reviews for your business? Are bad reviews all that bad? How many reviews are enough? Which platform should you collect reviews on? Should you ask for a review? If so, how?

There are so many questions, that many business owners don’t know where to begin, and simply leave reviews up to random chance. Unfortunately, this is likely a very costly mistake.

I have a few friends that are very successful sellers on Amazon, and dominate their categories. I wish I could tell you it was because they had the best products – but they don’t. Not that they have bad products, but they are not at the top because they are the best. They are at the top because they focus on one thing above all else – getting reviews.

It is such an effective technique that when launching a new item on Amazon, they will spend over US$10,000 giving the product away just to get reviews. They also use dedicated call centres that are used only to follow up on sales and ask the customer to leave a review.

You may be thinking that Amazon is different, and hypercompetitive compared to the competition in your local town – and you would, to a point, be right. However, the underlying principle is the same.

Thankfully you probably don’t need to spend thousands in giving away products, nor set up a dedicated call centre. But you are doing your business a disservice to ignore reviews entirely.

There is plenty of research to show just how important reviews are. Some interesting stats include:

  • 94% of people claim positive reviews will make them more likely to use a business
  • 73% of people claim reviews need to be less than 1 month old to be influential
  • Four out of five consumers have changed their minds about a recommended purchase after reading a negative review online
  • Less than 50% of consumers would consider using a business with less than a 4-star rating
  • Reviews shown for lower-priced products increased conversions by 190%. For higher-priced products, conversion rates increased by 380%

Clearly reviews matter. But not all reviews are created equally. Research (and no doubt your own experience) has shown there are five aspects that define how successful reviews are…

1) Rating. No big surprise here, other than five stars are not always best. People trust ratings more when they are not all five stars. Somewhere between 4.4 and 4.7 appears to be quite optimal. Drop below 4 stars at your peril though, and anything lower than 3.5 is like the kiss of death.

2) Quantity. People trust quantity over quality. In some studies, it has been found that over 40 reviews are needed to be fully trusted. While I doubt you need that many to enjoy the benefits of having reviews, simply put, the more you have the better. The real yardstick here is your competition. If you have only 1 or 2 reviews, and your competition has between 20 and 30, then you have some work to do. Likewise, if you have 40 or 50 reviews, but your competition has over 500, you still have work to do.

3) Recency. If your last review was from over a year ago, it can create doubt in a prospect’s mind. They are not sure if you are still in business, or if the quality of your product or service has changed. Thankfully age also diminishes the impact that bad reviews have – so long as you have plenty of good recent reviews.

4) Legitimacy. We have all read reviews that just sound fake. Of course, some that sound fake are genuine, and many that sound genuine are fake. But in terms of the influence a review has, genuine sounding reviews will be trusted more. This can be tricky, as you have little control over genuine reviews – but whatever you do, just don’t fake them.

5) Sentiment. How enthusiastic do your customers sound? How pleased were they? What do they say about you or your team on a personal level? Again, with genuine reviews, this sentiment is hard to control – but if you are friendly and deliver an outstanding service, a sufficient number of reviews will answer these questions for anyone doing their research.

The question of which platform to use can be a bit trickier. It really depends on the industry you are in. A few of the most common are listed below, along with who they are best suited to…

Google My Business: These are the reviews you see when you see a business listed in Googles search. They are by far the most important for local businesses, especially service providers or shops that are found or researched via Google. If you are an accountant, lawyer, therapist, dentist, mechanic or similar, then Google My Business is a must. These reviews can also be extremely beneficial for restaurants and cafes.

TripAdvisor: For businesses that rely on tourists, TripAdvisor has positioned itself as the go-to platform. For tourist activities and accommodation, TripAdvisor is a no-brainer, and should be the focus of your efforts. For cafes that target tourists, this could be a solid option too, though for those wanting more local traffic, stick with Google My Business.

Facebook: While Facebook does have a lot of users and a strong reputation, it is not worth worrying about for most businesses, that is unless you trade on Facebook or generate the majority of your leads from Facebook. If your business model is Facebook-centric, then this is where you need to collect your reviews.

Your Own Site: If you have an e-commerce store, or a WordPress plugin, you can collect your own reviews on your own site. The problem with this is that these reviews won’t appear in search listings, and product reviews will not be trusted as much as an independent platform. That said, for SOME stores, this will still be a good option. The main thing here is having different ratings and reviews for each product (not just the business overall).

Third-Party Review Site: There is a wide variety of sites that will help independently manage your reviews, such as TrustPilot and Yotpo. These can be a bit expensive, as you will have monthly fees to pay. However, they do help with the capture and display of reviews, and provide a greater degree of trust than reviews managed by yourself. These solutions are best suited for businesses selling physical products online.

So now you understand just how important reviews are, and where you should be collecting them, the next step is to go and get some…

The first thing to do is go to your existing customer base and get a bit of a jump start on your review collection efforts. If you have a database of their email addresses, sending an email and requesting a review is the simplest, quickest and most cost-effective way to start. Just be sure to include a link to the page you want them to leave the review.

If you only have their phone numbers, then giving them a call will be the way to go – and if your customer list is not too big, calling can be the best approach anyway.

Another option to consider is using a service such as www.EasyReview.nz, which makes the process painless. It will follow up with your customers using both email and SMS, as well as helping divert those who had a bad experience to send their feedback directly to you, rather than leaving their feelings publically.

Using a platform such as this helps not only reduce negative reviews, but also automates the follow-up process and increases the total number of reviews you will get. While it does come with a small monthly cost, this is easily offset by the increase in business that having more reviews will bring.

Depending on the type of business you have, you may also consider training staff to ask for reviews, having a request on the back of your business card and pointing it out at the end of a project, making a request at the bottom of invoices, having a receptionist call and ask after an invoice has been paid, or simply asking face to face.

Whatever you do, make sure asking for reviews becomes an integrated part of your customer completion process. If you leave it to chance and your competition does not, you are virtually guaranteed to be missing out on sales.

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