Online customer reviews may be impacting the outcome of online marketing campaigns more than anyone ever imagined. According to a recent survey of American consumers online customer reviews, or the lack thereof, can disrupt a customer’s path to the checkout page, or in-store purchase.
A well-designed online marketing campaign leads consumers to an inviting website that has expressive photos, plenty of detail about products and services, and competitive pricing. If you have that, you’re doing almost everything right. But, no customer reviews on your website? No reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, or any review sites? For a large percentage of consumers, that means No Sale! According to the customer review survey, 92% of online shoppers are reluctant to complete a purchase if there are no product or service reviews.
Online shoppers are becoming more and more Internet savvy and they’re not easily fooled by fake reviews. Some review sites, like Yelp, filter out reviews that seem questionable. Amazon has also cracked down on false, misleading, and inauthentic customer reviews.
According to the survey, 31% say that a mix of positive and negative reviews makes them believe that the reviews are relevant and useful. In other words, if consumers have even an inkling that the reviews were written by the business owner, employees, family, friends, or are just “made up,” they will ignore them.
Reviews that appear to be fake are as good as no reviews at all. And no reviews — that’s also a problem.
What Happens If There Are No Reviews?
Studies have found that reviews are important in helping people with buying decisions. The customer review survey specifically asked consumers, “How do you feel when there are no customer reviews available?”
- 35% of online shoppers say they’re less likely to buy if there are no reviews available.
- 32% say they’ll hold off on making a buying decision and do more research somewhere other than on your website. Maybe they’ll come back. Probably not.
- 23% will have difficulty making a buying decision.
- 2% say they won’t buy from you. Flat out won’t buy.
- 8% say they don’t care about reviews.
Businesses need reviews. The more the better! Good reviews don’t just happen—you have to ask for them.
What About Negative Reviews?
Negative reviews hurt. 35% of survey respondents say that one negative review is enough to make them decide not to do business with a company. Of course, the content of the review matters. 94% say they do read written reviews and it’s probably fair to presume that they discount those that are vague or hyperbolic. The plausible ones with details about the reviewer’s bad experience with your business need your immediate attention.
When you have legitimately bad reviews, there is a way to turn things around. According to Blake Morgan, an industry expert on customer experience, negative reviews can be used as an opportunity to grow. “If you try and publicly fix the customer’s problem,” said Morgan, “others are watching and applauding you for your attitude.”
Authentic reviews are an extremely important aspect of digital marketing; they’re often the only way for online shoppers to get unbiased opinions about whether a product or service is worth the investment. Make it easy for your prospective customers to buy from you! Prompt your happy customers to write detailed reviews, address the negative ones, and always keep a close eye on your online reputation. For some recommendations on how to ask for feedback from customers via email, there are some great resources and helpful templates available to encourage customers to respond meaningfully with actionable feedback and positive online customer reviews.