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The Science Behind Online Reviews

Consumers have long relied on personal recommendations when deciding if a product is worth their money. But the rise of the internet paved way to a new type of buzz marketing called ‘electronic word of mouth’.

As a result, people now have access to a vast library of ratings and reviews they can consult before making purchase decisions. However, businesses still don’t fully understand the impact of electronic word of mouth to their online reputation and what influences a customer’s participation. 

Just How Important Online Reviews Are?

According to an annual Local Consumer Review Survey, 92% of consumers now read online reviews before making a purchase. The report also revealed that 88% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations.

These stats indicate just how powerful electronic word of mouth has become and how it can easily damage a brand.

Google has taken notice of this that they have ranked review sites at the top of their search results. For example, a regular Google search for “kitchen remodeling phoenix az” shows the following local results. As you can see, the ratings for each company are included:

Most people never really browse past the first page of results so they tend to click on review sites the most. Another reason is that a site with high ratings and positive reviews communicate authority and trustworthiness.

This can mean great things for your business. Think about it this way – if you’re faced with two businesses with 3-star ratings and a third option with 5 stars, which one are you more likely to click on?

Whatever your industry, having positive reviews not only boost your online reputation but also turn interested consumers into paying customers. 

Why Do People Write Online Reviews? 

It’s easy to understand why people read reviews but what’s the motivation behind people that write reviews? A Trustpilot study found that the top three reasons customers write reviews include – rewarding a company for a good performance, sharing an experience, and helping others make a better buying decision.

In another survey by GatherUp, 600 consumers were asked why they leave reviews for a local business. The top answer, reported by 33% of the respondents, was “when the experience is really good or really bad”. When an experience is average, they don’t leave a review.

But very few actually see “calling out a company for bad service” as a primary motivation in leaving reviews. This should give you some measure of confidence that consumers are not just out to ruin your reputation.

Now that you have an idea about the motivations of consumers, you can take certain steps to help encourage them leave more reviews!

How and Where to Get Online Reviews? 

David Mihm, VP of Product Strategy at ThriveHive, shared at BrightonSEO that 9/10 consumers who had a positive experience would leave a review if they were asked. He also added that only 7% are actually being asked.

So, how do you get customers to write good reviews that help close deals? How do you ensure that a customer is satisfied enough to ask for the positive reviews your business need?

The first thing to do is populate your search results. Try searching for “brand name + reviews” on Google. Does the results page show some random establishment in Florida? You can replace this by setting up profiles on multiple review sites.

Depending on your product/service, submit your business to sites like Yelp, TrustPilot, TripAdvisor, Google My Business, TrustLink and others. You can also look at your competitors and use the same sites they are using.

Pick one review site to focus your efforts on and ask customers to leave feedback on the chosen site. You can do it in several ways:

  • Send direct emails to customers
  • Add a “please review us” line in your newsletter
  • Include a banner on your website linked to the review site
  • Put a review button in your email signature

As long as you have a great product or service and you make it easy to leave reviews, it shouldn’t be so difficult to collect reviews from customers. Make sure to thank your reviewers for their positive reviews and respond to negative ones. 

In Conclusion

Understanding why consumers leave online reviews, and knowing how and where to get online reviews can give any business a competitive edge.

It doesn’t matter how good you think you are. What matters is how good your customers think you are. Learn to accept criticisms and suggestions, and make concrete improvements. When customers see that you really care, they’ll be more willing to share, and help you serve them better.