Having easy access to the web has radically changed the way people shop for almost everything today.
From mobile phones to dental services, it’s rare to blindly make a purchase decision without reading through several online reviews. In 2016, 90% of shoppers read at least one online review before deciding to visit a business.
More importantly, 94% of online shoppers reported that a negative review has convinced them to avoid visiting a business.
This means that whatever your industry, having a positive online presence gives you several key advantages, which is why it’s becoming a key part of branding.
Understanding why you need online reviews will help you optimize your customer experience to help create a positive online footprint. Let’s review these seven reasons why your consumers’ published experiences with your brand are vital.
Social Proof Drives Purchases
We’re more likely to make a purchase if others around us—even total strangers—agree that it is a good decision. Today, online reviews are the biggest source of social proof, and they have a clear impact on sales.
For example, Seriously Silly Socks has been able to drive 60% higher average order value on the company’s website than its other sales channels, and it’s likely that the 3000 five-star reviews that populate the ecommerce site’s various product pages have helped a great deal.
“We encourage reviews by emailing customers after purchase and offering a discount coupon in return for a completed review,” Andrew Gill, the owner of the company, recently told BigCommerce in an interview for a case study. “This has been a major difference from the start of our journey to selling directly from our store and has reduced our reliance on shopping channels. Customer feedback creates that ‘social-proof’ trust that encourages other visitors to our store to buy.”
They Make You More Visible
Most shoppers will look on search engines like Google and Bing, or even on Facebook, when deciding what to buy. These websites all have their own unique ways of indexing and surfacing content, but they all value original and fresh content, and customer reviews can definitely help feed the content machine, keeping your brand favored by algorithms.
They Make You Look Trustworthy
Your brand can build significant trust and credibility from a steady stream of positive reviews. One of the more interesting findings of recent research is just how powerful reviews are at building your company’s online identity. Many shoppers distrust businesses that have ratings below(or even above) four stars. This leaves a small margin of error at the top, but companies with better average ratings are significantly more likely to see views converted to traffic and sales.
They Expand the Conversation About You
When people have good things to say, they are also more likely to share their reviews on more sites, including external websites like Yelp, FourSquare, and TripAdvisor. These hubs are vital to your online presence, as Google collects data from their sites when building its own results ranking. Even on an individual level, having positive reviews can help push further reviews. For example, the Search Influence agency recently teamed up with GetFiveStars to reach out to patients of Houston-based orthopedic surgeon Dr. K. Mathew Warnock, generating his first 100 five-star reviews over the course of just five months.
When these reviews were published on Warnock’s site, it not only lifted his organic search traffic by 23% but also snowballed to prompt more reviews on sites like Google+, Facebook, and Healthgrades, the latter being especially important to his vertical.