There’s an old internet adage that says, “Never read the comments.” This might be good advice for inflammatory political op-eds or your Youtube channel devoted to celebrity impressions. But in truth, businesses and brands can’t afford to ignore what’s being said online.
Why do customer review sites matter?
As counterintuitive as it seems, customer reviews—even if they’re negative—present great opportunities for brands. Negative or positive, reviews are telling you something—something you’re doing right or something you could work on. Either way, that’s valuable feedback you can use.
Thanks to the internet, customers have access to more information than ever. While your website or blog might be part of their research process, you can bet that potential customers are reading reviews on third-party websites and apps.
BrightLocal’s latest consumer review survey found that 86 percent of consumers read reviews for local businesses and they read an average of 10 reviews before feeling that they can trust a business.
That’s what makes earned media on customer review sites so important. Potential customers look to other consumers’ recommendations because they’re trusted sources. BrightLocal’s report also showed that 91 percent of 18-34 year-olds—a coveted demographic for many brands—trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
If people can readily see that others trust and believe in your product or service, they’ll trust you. That’s crucial when weighing a potential purchase. Research by Survey Monkey found that trust in a brand matters “a great deal” or “a lot” for 65 percent of consumers.
Additionally, positive reviews correlate to a healthier bottom line. The Harvard Business Review found that every additional star rating on Yelp causes an increase in revenue—as high as 9 percent.
It’s easy to write off customer reviews as not real or inconsequential because they’re online. In the grand scheme of things, they are relatively new. And that can be difficult for older or more traditional businesses to reconcile. However, the data shows it’s a mistake to ignore them. Ultimately, the health of a business can be tied, in part, to the health of customer reviews.
Where to Find Company Reviews
The internet is vast, but there are several third-party spaces where people leave reviews and do research online.
These days, the start of any type of online research is probably going to start with Google. In 2017, the company launched Google Customer Reviews. Basically, it allows businesses to collect feedback from customers who made purchases, which are then posted on Google.
According to ReviewTrackers’ 2018 survey, Google is the review site of choice among consumers, with 63 percent saying they are likely to check online reviews on Google before visiting a business.
When you search for many businesses, a star rating will show up on the right side of the search page with the number of customer reviews. You can also see the rating and reviews while searching Google Maps.
Businesses can opt in to the free service, meaning they have a bit more control compared to some other review sites. However, there are benefits that come with positive reviews such as Google Seller Ratings, Google Product Ratings and a Google Customer Reviews Website Badge.
Yelp is probably the most well known third-party review site on the web. Research from ReviewTrackers shows that it is the second most visited review site after Google.
It has become particularly important for bars and restaurants—something that was actually lampooned on the popular TV show, South Park. Being quick to react to reviews is key on Yelp, which highlights responsive businesses.
After its advent, Facebook became an important marketing tool for businesses. Gradually, it became another customer service and review platform, as well.
Now, it’s the fourth most visited review site on the internet. Luckily, you have control over your business’s Facebook page, allowing you to be more responsive to reviews and concerns. Like Yelp, Facebook also rewards responsiveness.
Amazon is the leader in eCommerce, and many consumers rely on it. If you sell your product on Amazon, it’s also being reviewed by customers who bought it.
There are a variety of ways to sort search results on Amazon, and one of them is by average customer reviews. A star rating is also displayed prominently on the product page.
Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a private, nonprofit organization, which seeks to build marketplace trust and serve as a resource for consumers. Naturally, this makes it a trusted source of reviews for many consumers.
In North America, businesses can officially register with the BBB and become accredited, lending more trustworthiness to the business.
Depending on your type of business, you might want to expand your monitoring to industry-specific review sites. Now that we know why customer reviews are important and where to find them, let’s look at how you can use them to create better content.
Creating Content with Reviews
There are several ways in which businesses can easily use customer reviews to generate content.
New Blog Topics
As we noted recently, sometimes brands and businesses lose sight of why they’re creating content. The goal of content marketing is to provide authoritative content that makes your business a valued source of information.
To do this, you need to create content that answers your potential customers’ questions. They have a pain point, problem or need that leaves them searching for a solution. Your content should be there to convince them that you can answer their questions and solve their problems.
So, keeping that in mind, monitor your reviews and pay particular attention to questions that are being asked in reviews. They can spark ideas for your editorial calendar.
If a question keeps being asked over and over again that means you’re not effectively answering it. Write a blog post that does answer the question. Once it’s published, provide the link with your response to those reviews.
Likewise, if people keep mentioning a particular product, service or aspect of your business, that means it’s resonating with customers. Capitalize on it by writing a piece of content that examines that subject.
Also, keep in mind the people leaving those reviews. An influencer or micro-influencer could be an advocate for your brand! If you find that someone with an online audience likes your product or service, reach out to them. It’s an effective way to reach a new audience and create backlinks to your site.
When positive reviews start rolling in, you should make sure other people—especially potential customers—see them. This is what’s called social proof, and it can be a useful tool in the sales funnel.
Embed positive reviews on your site to feature them. Yelp and TripAdvisor allow businesses to do this free of charge, and as we mentioned earlier, Google offers a Google Customer Reviews Website Badge when you sign up for Google Customer Reviews.
By showcasing reviews from third parties, you’re lending an air of credibility to your business. You can lend further credibility to your business with customer testimonials and case studies. Positive customer reviews are the first step to both.
If you receive a particularly enthusiastic review, reach out to see if the customer would give a short testimonial. These play an important role in purchase decisions and have been shown to increase conversions.
A customer case study is also an effective tool, and positive reviews can help you build one. Primarily, they’ll help you identify who would be ideal customers to feature.
Reviews are also great, quick pieces of content for social media. They can help you tell your brand story and summarize your value proposition.
Turn positive reviews into Twitter or Facebook posts by making quotes into a graphic or adding graphic or gif. This will help drive people to your site and promote social proof. You help drive future positive reviews by making it a regular feature on your editorial calendar, dedicating a specific hashtag to these posts or offering a nominal reward for being featured.
Be careful about the last one, though. Customers and potential customers don’t want to feel as if they’re being bribed.
It can be scary wading into the world of online reviews, but it will only help you provide better content for your customers and build trust with potential customers. So take your head out of the sand and start reading the comments! You might be surprised just how useful they can be!
Want to learn more about building better content for your audience? Be sure to check out our eBook, The Intelligent Content Playbook for a step-by-step guide on how to do this.