Consumer reviews – the powerful weapon driving customer acquisition

Consumer reviews – the powerful weapon driving customer acquisition
Jon Buss is head of EMEA at Yext. His extensive experience in acquiring and leading a range of large international businesses and setting-up smaller, ambitious start-ups is enabling him to grow Yext’s international footprint and customer base throughout EMEA.

For consumers, trust matters.

There have been countless surveys that support the notion that online reviews are the number one most trusted source for accurate product information. Whether consumers are looking for bike or a restaurant to eat in, the opinions of other consumers are often the first port of call.  

Love them or hate them, consumer reviews are here to stay and how you manage your reviews strategy can have a significant impact on your brand reputation, customer advocacy and revenue.

In an eMarketer survey, 60% of consumers said that star ratings are one of the most important factors in making a purchase decision and 87% of consumers won’t consider a purchase with a low number of reviews.

Our own Yext study also highlighted that listings with a similar rating, but with more reviews than a competitor, capture over 50% more clicks on average for a given search.

The importance of local

And here lies the problem.

Most companies have a robust social media strategy and a dedicated team that engage, monitor, respond, and react to social media across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, yet most appear to have no handle on location specific reviews.

reviews have organically become part of the customer’s buying process

Location reviews appear most commonly on mapping apps like Google, TripAdvisor, and Yelp.

Today, consumers seek out 10 pieces of information, on average, before making a purchase and the consequence is that they have come to rely on reviews to battle decision fatigue.

Reviews have organically become part of the customer’s buying process. The more stars, the more clicks.

Search outperforms any other information source so search platforms especially Google have not overlooked the opportunity to deliver a more relevant and useful experience to their users. They’ve fully embraced ratings and reviews. Most local searches on Google today serve up at least three permutations of online star ratings:

Reviews from a business’ own website

reflected as a star rating on the search rich snippet or the Google knowledge card, called first party reviews.

Reviews from third-party websites

Like Yelp, displayed as rich search snippets often among the top three search positions and the knowledge card.

Google My Business ratings

displayed in the knowledge card, which are derived from your Google reviews.

These little stars are taking centre stage.

To address this, Marketers’ need to have an ‘active’ consumer review strategy down to the location level baked into their digital strategy. They need to make sure their evangelists are prolific and their detractors dealt with. 

No brand is immune to a one star review but how you handle it can have a significant impact on your brand. If someone is looking for a gym in Colchester, the fantastic reviews below for David Lloyd, will certainly influence consumer choice.  

4 key elements to creating an ‘active’ online review strategy:

Take control of your brand

The digital ecosystem is a complex web of information and often businesses find there’s information about them in places they didn’t know exist.  

take control of the public facts and information about your business

Take control of the public facts and information about your business. Search yourself and see what happens, make sure you understand where and what consumers see about your business across every device and platform.

Understand the digital review ecosystem

Make sure that you understand where online reviews appear, for example, search and map results on mobile and desktop include star ratings of your locations.   

Take the time to get to grips with the review policies of each platform, for example, Google will only pull reviews from your own website if they are first-party and Google loves sites like Yelp and Facebook and gives them prominence due to their highly relevant fresh content.

Response strategy

No matter how well you run your business, you will inevitably receive negative reviews. How you handle these reviews is crucial to your reputation.

Responding to negative reviews allows you to resolve issues as they arise with the goal of winning those customers over. Businesses who respond to online reviews are 68% more likely to raise their rating by half a star in 6 months.

It’s a clear signal to potential customers that you care about the customer experience.

Firing up your fans

Not actively fostering feedback online means you’re gambling with your reputation every time a customer reviews your business.

you need to fire up your fans

Think about the last time you reviewed a business. Was it a spontaneous decision?  Were you angry about a bad experience or jubilant about an amazing display of service? We know that most people tend to review a business when they’ve had a bad experience rather than a good one.  

So, you need to fire up your fans.  

Make it easy for your customers to give you feedback in the right places and ask regularly. 70% of people will leave a review for a business when they’re asked.  Make it part of the marketing effort.

Doing so will help you sustain a presence on third-party review sites, protect your position and reputation in Google search results, and build goodwill with your customers.

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