In this age of heightened skepticism, trust must be earned and built, more than ever. Prospective customers often look to testimonials and reviews for social proof, and what they read can be the tipping point for making a purchase decision. The fact that Amazon is cracking down by suing 1,114 “reviewers” who sold their “service” to write bogus reviews is good news for consumers.
For some time, enterprising Web entrepreneurs have been selling reviews. These paid “reviewers” offer their services through Fiverr.com (who didn’t exactly burnish good street cred out of this debacle either). Sold at five bucks a pop (hence the name “fiver”) these reviews in question were intended to mislead. In all probability, those bogus reviews gave an unfair competitive advantage to some, and undermined the trust it was intended to build.
Generations of direct marketers have recognized the value of testimonials to make a sale. Prospective customers want to know what current and past customers are saying about you.
Smart marketers know you should regularly search your business name followed by the word “reviews.” Some reviews will be positive. Some will be negative. Negative comments present an opportunity to respond to and resolve the complaint. Done well, you have an opportunity to turn a dissatisfied customer into an advocate.
If you don’t have any reviews, or have never encouraged reviews, consider the service of a firm whose business it is to help you generate legitimate reviews from your customers.
If you’re not collecting reviews, engaging with customers, and sharing them, you’re missing out on a key marketing tool.
There are several benefits of having reviews, both positive and negative, online:
- Reviews (positive and negative) on your own site, either about your organization in general, or specific products and services, show legitimacy.
- Don’t be afraid of the occasional negative review. Respond to it. For prospective customers, seeing negative reviews actually shows you’re authentic.
- Reviews (positive and negative) on a third party site validates your trustworthiness. Your customers tell your story for you.
- Using third party review sites (such as Angie’s List, Trust Pilot, Yelp and others), your reviews can show up organically in search results and enhance your online presence.
- Reviews are social proof, highly valued by many consumers.
- The ability to post a review boosts customer satisfaction. It demonstrates you’re open to dialogue (whether great or poor) and it makes people feel good about making decisions.
- Reviews are today’s word-of-mouth marketing and the voice of the customer.
- Some third party review sites have relationships with Google, so that when enough positive reviews are earned, gold star ratings will appear next to your name. Those gold stars reportedly increase clicks and conversion.
Reviews are today’s testimonial for the online world. Embrace them, seek them, and use them to increase trust in your organization to increase your bottom line.