Reviews (or testimonials) are everywhere when you are looking online for products and services.
Businesses like to flaunt their positive feedback from customers because it offers proof of their legitimacy and professionalism.
The Importance Of Reviews
Customers actively look for reviews for products they are interested in. If you don’t have any reviews on your website then it is likely that your visitors may look to your competitors for views on that site.
It is not uncommon for some customers to check the reviews out on several websites to see what is being said on each about the product.
Likewise, your competitors could grab a significant amount of your potential customers if they use reviews on their landing, product or other pages and you don’t.
Therefore, generating reviews should be a focus for your business. There are five types of reviews that you can obtain online:
- Reviews from third party review businesses like bloggers, independent consumer advice companies and affiliate marketers.
- Reviews on your own website that are shown on important pages like product pages.
- Business directories or online business listings that accept reviews.
- Social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn also have a limited review capability.
- Google; this can be particularly powerful as Google uses your review as part of your search rank.
Concentrating your efforts on just one of these review platforms is not the best practice. There are several reasons.
Firstly, if one review site goes offline, then you could lose all the reviews hosted there. This could be a loss of the significant effort you put in to generate them. This has happened previously with Yahoo when Yelp took over their review site.
Secondly, you can’t guarantee when and where your potential customers will see you. For instance, reviews are important for your direct traffic, but those searching on Google or a business directory will need to see reviews on there instead.
So when you are looking to generate reviews, consider spreading out the reviews equally among the different platforms. This will reduce the risk of losing all your reviews and improve your exposure online.
Why Host Reviews On Third Party Sites?
Some businesses worry about placing reviews on other sites; however, it can be one of the best ideas for your business. Especially if you have a listing / review site that has a web application that can display the review copy on your site as well as on theirs. It is important to use their application to display the review in two locations because if you simply copy the review then your site’s SEO efforts can be damaged.
Likewise, it negates the best advantages for online reviews being hosted on an independent third party site. The advantages include:
- Improved trust – reviews that can be verified as being independent to your business will be seen as more trustworthy by customers.
- Linking – having many sites carry reviews and links to your site creates additional inbound links to your brand’s website. This can help increase the pagerank of your site.
- Increased exposure – not everyone will land directly on your page. Therefore, having your brand’s reputation displayed in a number of different locations will help spread word of your professionalism and grow your website’s traffic.
Therefore, consider how you are going to separate your reviews across the many review platforms.
How To Optimise The Look Of Reviews
When including reviews on your site, it is important that you maximise their effect. You can use review software on your website so products or services can be rated by customers. However, sometimes these are not displayed for maximum effect.
Therefore, you might need to consider other ways to post reviews online.
For a consumer product like clothes, food, etc, a simple star and comment system is probably all you need. This is highly effective at displaying what your customers experienced when they bought your product.
However, most consumers don’t want to spend too much time writing reviews, especially positive reviews. In fact, consumers are 17 times more likely to publish a review of a product or service if they’ve had a negative experience.
On the other hand, if you are selling to the business community, a detailed review is best. You need to have a strong testimonial of your services that covers two to three paragraphs. Also you need to include a headshot of the person leaving the review, show their position in the company and a link to their company. This can be hard to generate, but you need less reviews for high ticket price business services than low cost consumer products.
How To Generate Reviews
Generating reviews is not easy, but it is worthwhile. To start generating reviews, ask customers and clients to leave you a review in any receipt or invoice that you send them. Include this at the bottom near the final cost so that they are bound to look at the request.
Another common way is to send follow up emails after you have delivered the service requesting a review. This is normally the main way to generate reviews because it can take several attempts to prompt a past customer to leave a review. You can entice customers to leave a review by offering:
- A one off discount on a product.
- Offering entry into a prize draw.
Be careful however with negative reviews. Recently a UK hotel was caught out when it charged customers £100 ($160) for negative reviews. This hotel was accused of being unfair to the customers and had to pay the money back after complaints were made against the hotel in the national and local news – severely destroying their reputation.
However, by including positive reviews in prize draws and offering discounts can change the opinion of your customers. This may mean that they change their review if they win the competition leaving you more of a positive review.
Reviews are one of the best ways to promote your business. They offer your visitors proof of your legitimacy and professionalism and offers reassurances that customers will receive a product that will be fit for purpose and last a reasonable amount of time.
Therefore, you should aim to generate numerous reviews across several sites (including your own) to sell your business’ products, increase revenue and generate record profits.