In recent years, reviews have become one of the most important references for customers when it comes to choosing a place to shop. But this recommendation system hasn’t stopped gaining popularity. As an example, with the COVID-19 crisis, we have experienced tremendous innovation and experimentation on the part of just about every retailer, which has led to an increasing amount of customers relying on other clients’ opinions before either shopping online or visiting an establishment.
In fact, a PowerReviews analysis of consumer activity across 1.5MM product pages revealed both online review engagement and e-commerce conversions doubled during March 2020: “Reviews have become even more important in the COVID-19 era. Consumers are interacting with review content before converting at as much as double the rate they were at the backend of February. This is clear evidence that shoppers are now seeking significantly greater validation for their purchases, most likely because low inventory levels are forcing them to buy products they hadn’t previously before”.
According to the Google My Business support page, businesses should “interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business.” This statement is then followed by “high-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.”
Google Reviews and COVID-19
Even though Google reviews, reviews replies and Q&A were temporarily disabled, on April 8th they were turned back on. Are you wondering why this happened? There are two main reasons:
- To prioritise critical services.
- To avoid businesses from getting poor reviews because of their establishment being closed.
According to Chatmeter, there were significant businesses whose reputation was tarnished due to 1-star reviews for issues that escaped their control (changes in hours, closures, limited stock, etc.) On the opposite side, a study done by Spiegel revealed that about 95% of customers read reviews before making a purchase. Another survey by Invesp showed that 90% of consumers read reviews before visiting a business.
Just by seeing these two sides of the coin, it becomes clear that reviews, nowadays, aren’t just a trend but a must for businesses.
The Perks of Online Reviews
As mentioned before, reviews provide essential information for businesses. These have the potential to:
- Make you appear higher in search engines: The volume of reviews published directly influences your SEO. Online customer reviews can be a strong signal to search engines that communicates trustworthiness and authority. Actually, according to Birdeye, online reviews account for 9.8% of Google’s search ranking factors.
- Increases your coverage, making you appear for special keywords: Your reviews are a rich source of keywords and fresh content. Google indexes online reviews and these rank for the keywords your customers are searching for. Thanks to this, you can obtain qualified traffic straight to your store pages and lead potential customers straight to your products.
- Provide you with relevant feedback: Knowing how your customers’ experience will give you relevant insights on what parts of your business you can leverage and which ones to improve.
- Establish direct communication with your customers: In almost every review site the “reply” button is enabled, which means you can immediately thank your customer for a positive review or address any issues brought up. Also, you have to keep in mind that the responses you write to reviewers aren’t just for a single customer to read – they’re for all future potential customers to read. What you say to one customer signals to all others how they can expect to be treated by your business.
- Increase consumers’ trust: Did you know that 91% of 18-34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations? That’s right! Reviews have the power of showing the world how reliable your brand is. When a product gets five reviews, the likelihood of it being purchased increases by 270%.
- Strengthen your local marketing strategy: There’s also evidence to suggest that online reviews are the primary way to choose where to shop locally. Nearly all consumers (97%) now use online media when researching products or services in their local area.
- Increase your sales: If you still aren’t fully convinced about the power of reviews, take a look at these statistics:
- Customers are likely to spend 31% more on a business with “excellent” reviews.
- 72% of customers won’t take any buying actions until they’ve read reviews.
- 86% of people will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews
Now that we have addressed any doubts regarding the effectiveness of online reviews, let’s check out some of the best practices!
The Do’s and Don’ts
- Do respond actively to your reviews. By doing so, you will generate a “pull effect”, encouraging other customers to leave their opinions. The volume of reviews directly influences your SEO, no matter whether they are good, bad or in between. The more answers you publish, the more Google will reward you. The frequency of your responses directly influences Google’s decision on how often and how high to show you in searches.
- Do align your content creation. Your content should include the words, topics, products and services your target audience is looking for. This increases your chances of showing up in the search results.
- Do choose your words wisely. Reviews are also considered content, and the terms chosen to reply will make a massive difference in your positioning. Make sure you use both local and business categories keywords.
- Don’t leave reviews unsolved. This will stop the exponential “pull effect” from happening. Think of reviews as a content machine that if well managed, will keep your brand favoured by algorithms.
- Don’t take long to answer. In some ways, you have to think of reviews as a social media channel. The sooner you respond to your customer, the better the experience will be.
How can we help?
At Localistico, we are committed to helping retailers manage their reputation across all the major platforms, drive traffic to their locations and obtain actionable insights. With us, you’ll be able to:
- Manage and reply from a centralised inbox: Collect, filter, export and reply to customer reviews from a single inbox, no matter the platform they used to interact with you.
2. Save operation time while keeping a consistent tone of voice by using Templated Answers: You will be able to configure reply templates and highlighted keywords and publish optimised responses in just a few seconds.
3. Automate your answers: Setting up automated responses depending on the review type is a great way to keep your audience engaged while also saving you some much-needed time.
4. Organise your reviews better using filters: Once you have your keywords configured you can filter reviews by some of those keywords. You will also be able to filter through date, characteristics, rating, etc.
5. Gather actionable insights on your data: Our reports and dashboards make it easy to review progress and analyse trends.
6. Increase your internal operation efficiency by sharing your Review data and analytics to internal systems in your organisation. Remember we already have exporters and Data Feeds that allow you to plug your review data in Data Studio, Tableau, Salesforce or others.
And much more!