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Understanding the Value Of Online Customer Reviews

By Carolanne Mangles 28 Aug, 2017

Over 50% of consumers frequently factor in online reviews before buying a product

It’s no secret that online shopping is continuing to evolve with the habits of consumers. And in the social media era, consumers have louder and stronger voices than ever before.


Online reviews have revolutionized the online shopping marketplace and overall experience —they’re the new frontier in word-of-mouth marketing as well as a powerful sales tool.

Seller Beware: Reviews Are Not Optional

In the past, sketchy marketing tactics could boost sales for even the lowest quality products and services. There was no viable public outlet for consumers to voice their opinions on the products and services they were buying — dissatisfied customers’ voices couldn’t reach beyond family and friends. Now, with the click of the mouse or tap of a smartphone, consumers can broadcast their opinions far and wide. And every consumer can use customer reviews to make buying decisions.

According to the results of a recent survey by Fan and Fuel most consumers are greatly influenced by customer reviews or lack thereof.

97% report that customer reviews factor into their buying decisions.

how often do consumer reviews factor into buying decisions

And 92% of consumers will hesitate to purchase a product or service if there are no customer reviews.

And 92% of consumers will hesitate to purchase a product or service if there are no customer reviews.

35% are less likely to buy if there are no reviews available. 32% of consumers will wait to make a purchasing decision until after they’ve done more research, which, in all likelihood, means that they won’t be returning. 23% will have difficulty making a buying decision.

Bad Reviews Come Easy. Good Reviews Don’t.

People are more likely to take the time to write a review if they had a bad experience. These negative reviews are essentially a warning to other consumers, telling them, “don’t spend your money here.” Businesses cannot let a negative review go unanswered; stay calm.

When everything is up to par, customers generally see no need to leave a review. No matter how satisfied, many customers simply aren’t motivated to leave online reviews. When a customer verbally expresses his or her satisfaction, that is your cue to direct that customer to online review sites. Small business owners agree that the best way to get reviews is to ask for them. Make it easy for the customer to follow through, offer incentives, spotlight the customer and follow a routine.

Don’t Get Too Positive…

Before you focus all your attention on positive reviews, it’s important to understand that negative reviews do have their place in the online shopping realm!

34% of consumers admit that they actually like to see a mix of both positive and negative reviews.

What makes you believe that the site's customer reviews are relevant and useful

Consumers are now more aware that it’s possible to throw money at a service that provides fake reviews and they see right through the facade. A few negative or so-so reviews imply authenticity. And negative reviews can be a good thing!

The Upside of Bad Reviews

Believe it or not, negative reviews are a valuable marketing asset. They’re actually a great opportunity for your business to demonstrate top-notch customer service.

Many companies consistently respond to negative reviews online, and if done correctly, it can virtually negate the effects of the review itself. If your customer service team makes it a point to publicly, personally, and professionally respond to negative reviews, your business’s integrity and authenticity will shine through. For example:

Bad review example

The once unhappy customer became an asset when the business showed that it is responsive and accommodating.

The Bottom Line

Like everything in the digital marketplace, businesses that pay attention to the trends and adjust their marketing strategies have the advantage over those that don’t. A business that doesn’t understand the importance of customer reviews is missing out on leads and customers. If your business doesn’t yet have a customer review strategy that includes online reputation monitoring and management, you are missing out!

By Carolanne Mangles

Carolanne Mangles is the Digital Marketing Executive for Business Memberships at Smart Insights. She has worked on numerous channels across the full customer lifecycle including, search engine marketing, social media, email engagement sequences, CRO and planned and managed fully integrated campaigns to boost new customer acquisition and current membership retention. She has also spoken on search engine marketing and content marketing at the B2B Expo in London where she gave masterclasses on Transforming Social Media and Transforming Search Marketing. When she’s not in the office you’ll find walking her dog to tire him out so she can enjoy a big glass of red wine. Connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.

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