User generated reviews and ratings have been found to increase conversions. In fact, a study by Zuberance found that user generated reviews or other forms of person-to-person brand advocating are three times more trusted than ads.
So instead of blowing your advertising budget on paid advertising let’s consider how you can get some free positive publicity.
Give your customers an outlet for sharing reviews
The majority of customers are generally satisfied consumers but most don’t write reviews. They simply buy and forget to leave feedback, however for businesses it is absolutely key to collect and display online as many positive reviews and ratings as possible in order to build confidence in prospective customers.
A great way to do this is to send out a postcard in the mail a few days after the sale thanking them for their purchase and asking them to leave a review. To make it really easy for them include a QR code to scan that sends them directly to the platform that you would like them to leave a review on.
Here are just some of the outlets where you can direct them to share reviews:
Local business pages on Facebook automatically have a built in Reviews tab. So why don’t you encourage your loyal followers to use it by leaving a rating and a brief comment about their experience?
Most people will be happy to oblige.
If you’re a sole trader service-based business, such as an acupuncturist or violin teacher, you have a whole extra testimonial platform set up direct for you.
LinkedIn allows users to leave recommendations on individual’s profiles (not companies) and these act as reviews. So if you’re a freelancer or sole proprietor this is a great avenue just for you.
YouTube Video Reviews
A written review can be powerful, but something even more convincing is a video review. Companies such as LG Electronics are using YouTube to great effect by encouraging customers to upload videos of themselves talking about the products they enjoy.
By running a competition in exchange for video testimonials you could garner hundreds of video reviews in a short space of time which you can then add to your YouTube channel. Video reviews help create a lot of trust in a brand as you can see the person behind the review.
TrueLocal is a popular online platforms used to search for businesses in a specific niche in your local area. This online directory offers different options to showcase your business and using the ratings and reviews feature can be a great marketing tool.
So far we’ve talked about the most worthwhile places that you can direct your customers to leave reviews for you. However hiding all over the internet may be unsolicited reviews of your business written on blogs and personal users’ sites.
So how do you take advantage of those reviews? You can set up daily notifications via Google Alerts and Social Mention for your brand or business name paired with the word review.
This allows you to check out what people have been saying. Once you find these unsolicited positive reviews reach out to the site owner and ask for permission to use the review on your business’ website.
Incentivise Customer Reviews
There is one final thing to consider, which is offering an incentive for customers who leave reviews. Many ecommerce businesses now send out emails several days after a purchase was made (timing is important) encouraging customers to leave a review on their Google+ page or Yelp listing in exchange for 10 per cent of their next purchase.
Not only does that help persuade your silent satisfied customers to share their thoughts but it also encourages them to make a repeat purchase.
The Downside of Reviews
The only real downside of opening your business up to online reviews is that you are liable to get both positive and negative reviews. This is something you cannot control, but it is something that you can respond to.
By responding to negative reviews and trying to fix problems in a public forum, the public will see that you care about your customers and this goes some way towards mitigating any negative reviews.
The bottom line is word of mouth advertising has been one of the most powerful forms of advertising throughout human history.
Online reviews are an extension of this, and have the benefit of reaching more people. This offers great value to your business as your customers can do your marketing for you. 67% of Australian internet users read online reviews, with over 60 per cent reading at least five reviews before making a purchasing decision.
Most publicity is good publicity and online reviews represent a way of being found for free and leveraging the power of the satisfied crowd.