Online reviews are a powerful tool you can leverage to prove the quality of your small business to potential customers who are thinking about buying a product or service that you offer.
Bright Local’s Local Consumer Review Survey 2022 found that 77% of consumers either always or regularly read reviews when browsing for local businesses, with 57% saying they’re unlikely to use a business that doesn’t respond to reviews.
Online reviews are beneficial for different stages of a sales journey to help customers:
- Find a business
- Trust that business enough to visit the website
- Have confidence that business will deliver
- Provide transparent customer service
It’s also valuable for your business too, as they can help you to:
- Understand how to make your business better
- Help you build relationships and keep more existing customers
Happy customers buy more, are advocates for that business, and importantly cost seven times less to sell to than acquiring a new prospect. Customer testimonials can therefore deliver more sales by increasing reach, improving conversion and helping your small business to gather insights.
1. Reach more people online with eye-catching search results
To make a sale, potential customers need to know that your business exists in the first place. Many people will use search engines to find and compare products from new businesses, so it’s important to increase your online visibility.
As part of your search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy, online reviews can make your search listings more eye-catching and can prove the quality of your offering to the search engines.
When presented with a list of information, like a search result page, potential customers immediately scan and look for something that can help them make a quick decision. The normal behaviour in this instance is to click the first link, however, in a sea of blue links, a ‘different’ listing catches the eye. The most obvious eye-catching feature of search listings is added yellow star ratings beneath the listing.
When Google sees a website in any given position of the search results getting more than its fair share of clicks and users don’t immediately leave after clicking, those websites tend to rise in the search rankings.
What this indicates to the search engines is that the website appears better able to satisfy the searcher's question than others, and if the searcher stays on that website, it’s also providing an answer to their question. Search engines want to answer people’s questions. In turn, they reward websites that do this with higher search rankings.
2. Improve conversions with testimonials
The primary objective of any customer review website is to help build trust between a potential customer and a business. Maintaining independence and authority is fundamental to their success.
Because of this necessity for the review sites to be objective and trustworthy, the search engines are using the credibility of those review sites to apply credibility to businesses websites.
Getting more people to a website is just the first step. If a search listing stands out and your small business offers the product or services that a potential customer wants, they will then want to find out more details about you, how it operates, and what it might be like to be a customer.
Online customer reviews allow potential customers to consider how other people with a similar need or problem have experienced the business, product, or service that they are considering buying. You can incorporate glowing reviews into your social media posts or marketing materials to build trust.
By identifying these key moments of indecision, for example, when reviewing product details, or, at the checkout stage, and by supporting those moments of indecision with strong social proof, it's possible to start turning the dial on sales conversion rates and get more prospects converting to customers.
3. Improve your business
Inevitably, when embarking on a customer feedback journey, negative feedback is likely. Negative online reviews are not to be feared.
Any negative reviews will likely be the minority and provide incredibly valuable insight for you, as they highlight opportunities for you to improve. Many complainants often find a lack of response to be more irritating and a greater motivator to do harm than the initial issue they complained about.
Unhappy customers are influential, on average they tell twice as many people about their experience as a happy customer, and the different ways they can distribute that experience via social media can have significant repercussions.
The benefit of facing these reviews when resolving customer issues is not just limited to that particular transaction at that time. Customers that have an issue resolved tell 4-6 people about their positive experience.
It’s possible to start using this extra data to identify the most potentially profitable customers based on their satisfaction levels. 'Totally satisfied' customers contribute 14 times more revenue than 'somewhat dissatisfied' customers. Knowing who these people are is critical to focusing potential targeting and maximising the conversion opportunity for relevant up and cross-sell offers.