Reviews: A Potent, Versatile Form of User-generated Content

Reviewing shopping experiences is as old as shopping itself, but reviews have never been more important to merchants’ reputations (and profitability) than they are now, in the digital age.

“Consumer reviews continue to transform the way we shop,” writes Joe Rohrlich on the Bazaarvoice blog. “Whether online or in-store, consumers have come to expect authentic content before qualifying a purchase. Research supports Rohrlich: Just two data points to consider: 92% of consumers read online reviews and seven out of ten consumers are more likely to consider a business with positive online reviews.

Leveraging the power of reviews starts by making sure your customers know you want to hear from them – and making it easy for them to share their feedback. “Asking your customers to leave you a product or service review should be part of your sales and customer retention flow,” writes Tarel Patel at Brandwatch. “At all stages in the sales and support process, employees should be making customers aware that their feedback and suggestions are welcome. With one click, they should be able to share a comment.”

Once you have reviews you are eager to share, don’t be shy about using all your marketing channels to maximize their reach.

  • Your website
    “Proudly feature your best, unedited reviews at a prominent spot on your website – bold and upfront,” advises Jeff Bullas. “This is nothing but word of mouth publicity and will lure your visitors to buy your product or hire your services. Adding the name and photo of a customer will make the review even more authentic and credible. But make sure you obtain permission from the customers first, before publishing their name or picture on your site.”
  • Your email marketing
    “Digital marketers recognize that email is the best channel for ROI since it generates $44 for every $1 spent,” writes Flora Frichou at Instapage. “With that kind of positive return, highlighting feedback in email messages not only builds credibility off-site but is also likely to boost your click-through and conversion rates. Reviews in emails are great to showcase what others have experienced with you.”
  • On social media
    “From LinkedIn to Twitter, reviews give you a great snippet to summarize your story to social media followers,” writes Kristen McCabe at the Content Marketing Institute. “Whether you take a review and turn it into a Twitter testimonial or share on LinkedIn your ranking on a B2B review site, the brief, easy-to-create pieces of content grab attention and drive potential customers to your website.”

View negative reviews as opportunities to learn and improve
You are not going to please everyone all of the time, which means you won’t like some of the reviews you receive. But: “Even negative comments from customers have value,” Patel writes. “Use insights from negative comments as an opportunity to improve processes and the overall buying experience. This is where intuitive businesses do some of their best learning.”

It’s always worthwhile to try to engage your critics, advises Sophia Bernazzani on the HubSpot blog

“When you get a one-star review, make sure to take the time to respond thoughtfully, without being defensive, to come to a resolution,” she writes. “It’s the right thing to do and it could actually help your business in the long run.”

Bernazzani cites a Harvard Business Review report showing that businesses that respond to negative reviews wind up getting better overall ratings, and adds: “Your customers are human beings too, and the value of empathetic and compassionate customer service strikes a chord and actually leads to an uptick in total reviews, particularly positive ones.”