Online reviews play a key role in online shopping. A good review can increase sales and customer loyalty by influencing consumer behavior. And without positive reviews, there is a good chance your business will underperform and fall short of its potential.
And reviews are even more important than that. As the share of ecommerce on the market continues to grow, reviews can help brands reflect a positive brand identity onto both new and returning customers to stand out from competitors. But to better understand the power of online reviews, you need to know how they affect your brand image.
How customers use reviews
Buyers use reviews at the end of the sales funnel, once they have already decided what they need. Product or service reviews help them make that final decision and choose between similar offers from different brands. After reading the reviews, consumers usually make their choice: either to pursue the brand or product to checkout, or walk away and look elsewhere.
Usually, most consumers read at least three to four reviews from various sources before completing a purchase. Most of the time, consumers look for peer reviews or opinions by leading experts in the industry. This gives them greater insight into product features and functionality, and user experience and satisfaction.
UGC matters a lot
User-generated content (UGC) has a positive effect on the way your brand image is perceived among consumers. Positive peer-to-peer reviews are the most influential type of review your brand can own. They help your brand make the biggest impact on consumer decisions and behavior, and it’s what buyers want to see.
A simple one-to-five-star score system is the easiest way to motivate consumers to create UGC. In addition, you might also include a comments section so they can elaborate the reason behind their scores. For more advanced options, look to motivate users to create videos or photos using your products, or write full-blown opinionated reviews on your blog.
Brands who let consumers create UGC to “tell it like it is” are seen as more accessible and trustworthy. And because of this perception, people are more likely to engage with these brands and purchase their products
Reviews affect brand reputation (and vice versa)
Reputation is another way online reviews affect business. If you have positive reviews on your website’s product page, on Facebook, Google, Yelp or Amazon, it’s likely that customers treat your brand with respect. This can cause a ripple effect and increase demand for your products, and your brand.
But, certain outside factors can also lead to negative customer reviews, even when you offer a quality user experience on your website. For example, if your business finds itself at the center of a scandal, runs into financial troubles or gets into debt, it can lead to a bad reputation and bad online reviews. In these situations, it’s best to avoid unnecessary media exposure, consolidate debt with fast loans, and count your blessings.
Reviews help with SEO
User opinions matter in SEO, as well. The website might have a lot of blog posts and other content that glorify your products or services, but neither crawlers nor potential buyers don’t take too kindly to boasting.
Instead, focus on adding value to your consumers. Create objective and unbiased content to show off different features and applications of the product, and let users decide if it’s good or bad. Focus more energy on motivating people to leave reviews on your website, since this helps both with SEO and sales.
Higher keyword traffic volume
As customers leave reviews to your product, they use certain language to describe your product or service. Usually, they will leave comments like “best sneakers I ever bought” or “it’s exactly what you need to look for in a pair of running shoes”. Essentially, these are long-tail keyword phrases that tell search engines to rank your website for those terms.
As a result, customer reviews will improve organic keyword traffic. Every time people type in “what are the best sneakers” or “what to look for in running shoes”, your products will pop up as a search result, and increase the traffic volume to your site and the reputation of your brand.
Drive social engagement
Another online channel that benefits from positive reviews are social media networks. For example, Facebook and Yelp user reviews can boost social engagement on those channels. But, social media has even more potential.
For example, on Instagram, people like to take pictures with products once they receive them, and tag and hashtag the brand along with the photo. This is another positive review and form of UGC which boosts the brand image. The same principle can be applied to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or LinkedIn, with posts, videos, and tweets.
Ready to improve your brand image?
Online reviews can help with that. Remember to provide options to consumers where they can leave reviews, and promote expert opinions as they happen.
But most importantly, don’t censure them. Use them as consumer guides that help you improve your product and brand image, instead. As you make these changes, your offer will improve, which can lead to a better customer experience, more sales, and more positive reviews.