The Importance of Online Reviews
The concept of the “buyer’s journey” can be applied to customers of any business. But when it comes to online sales (or customers who go online to find a product at a local store), the buyer’s journey has some new steps–or call them new “twists.” One of them is the decisive, almost pivotal role played by online reviewers of your product or service. The importance of online reviews is greater than ever.
Some fourth-fifths of online adults read reviews when doing their research about products or services online, according to one analyst serving B2C marketing professionals. More than three-fourths of people, according to one poll, view such reviews as “somewhat reliable” And two-thirds of online shoppers see online reviews as on a par with an assessment given by a friend. A report focusing on shoppers using a mobile phone found that those who consulted an online review were overwhelmingly likely to visit a store and make a purchase within 24 hours.
The well-known “bottom line,” here, is that no business owner–and no one responsible for a business’s marketing and sales–can afford to ignore the highly influential role of online reviews on his product or service. In fact, however, it goes significantly beyond that. It is essential to respond to online reviews–actually, to deal with them–promptly. As we will see, there is a phenomenon of ganging-up or contagion that occurs regularly on review sites for shoppers.
But in order to pay attention, including prompt attention, of course, you have to know when they appear. Online reviews may be welcomed on your site (that is a very good idea, by the way), but they also will pop up on Big Boy sites like Google or Yelp. They are likely to appear, as well, on sites that specialize in your type of product or service or your locale. You can register on the big national sites and also on specialized sites and be informed when a review appears. You also can subscribe to Google Alerts for information or mentions of your product that appear virtually anywhere online.
Why is there a rush to deal with reviews as they appear? Negative reviews, especially, are contagious. For example, a reviewer complains about your email or texting campaign, say, and soon others are chiming in with their experiences. A cluster of complaints about your company seems to appear almost overnight. Then, new readers seeing just the number of posts may have the impression that your company “had some big problem with its advertising.”
Respond to all online reviewers professionally, positively, and concretely. Retorts and arguments are worse than worthless. As a matter of fact, though, marketing professionals suggest getting the negotiation offline before attempting to resolve it. Then, your personal approach by phone, email, or in-person with the customer will be understanding, professional, and tightly targeted on a solution.” That may be the offer of a new product or return service visit. Or, if the complaint goes to the policies and practices of your company, you might pose a specific solution that you have in mind with a thumbnail sketch of plans for remedying the problem. When you have taken those steps, let the customer know.
Positive reviews? Still more important to respond. Studies suggest that positive reviewers on your site tend to carry over their advocacy to social media. If you recognize them with a personal “thank you,” you can turn a reviewer into a brand ambassador. By letting your reviewers know that you view positive online review as of long-term value, you can get some reviewers to post reviews to other sites. On your own, or with involvement of an online-review management company, you can follow up with an email about other such sites and how easy it is to post on them. If you have sales, discounts, or coupons currently in the works, you can let your new fan know.
Conclusion: The Importance of Online Reviews
It is all time-consuming, of course, some businesses assign a staff member to handle online reviews. Others subscribe to a management program/service. Here at Verdure Digital, we can provide you with a system for comprehensive tracking and reporting of reviews from all online sources. And, above all, help you to integrate any new system seamlessly into your customer relations software system.
Even an online reviewer who leaves a negative comment or assessment of your product or company is engaged–investing time and energy in an online review. Such engagement actually indicates a customer much closer to your business than the vast majority of people “out there.” Be aware, respond promptly, be professional, convert a skeptic into a long-term customer or an ambassador for your brand.