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14th August 2014
By Corinne

User reviews have never been more visible or more powerful. All the evidence suggests there’s simply a huge psychological shift when people can see what other consumers have said about a business, compared to what a business might say about itself.

Harnessing reviews for online marketing

While many companies welcome the newfound prominence of reviews, some are sceptical or even fearful of their effect. But instead of hiding from these influential snippets of consumer insight, we would recommend harnessing their significance for your business’s success.

If you’re proud of the service you provide, and your customers are happy, there’s really nothing better than to let those consumers fly your flag on your behalf.

So what does this mean for businesses?

According to recent research, almost 9 out of 10 consumers have looked at reviews in the last 12 months to help them make a decision on a local business, and the vast majority of those consumers consider online reviews as valuable as personal recommendations.

If you’re ahead of the curve with online reviews, you might have been suggesting your customers provide a review of your service following interactions with the business. If you’re even more review-savvy, you might be displaying a selection of your best or most recent reviews on your website for all to see.

Streamlining the consumer review process

One way of gaining an increased number of consumer reviews is to be listed on a site like Trustpilot. This provides users with a straightforward way of giving an overview of their experiences with the business.

Depending on your marketing budget, you might even choose to sign up for a service such as Trustpilot Business, which enables customers to review your company with ease, side-stepping the sign-up process. It also provides businesses with a review interface, including features such as the ability to invite users to review your company en masse, and a selection of widgets you can use to display those reviews on your website.

Gaining seller ratings for PPC

If you’re already investing on PPC advertising with Google, there’s an extra benefit to gaining consumer reviews online. If you’re able to gain thirty or more reviews within the year, along with a composite seller rating of 3.5 or over, seller star ratings will begin, as if by magic, to appear within your paid ads, increasing your ads’ standout, and therefore click through rate (CTR), by an average of 17%.

The seller rating visible in your PPC ads will be based on the reviews Google Product Search is able to collect from a range of sources, including Trustpilot, ReviewCentre, Ciao, Bizrate and Dooyoo. Even if you don’t manage to gain a coveted ‘five star’ rating, research has shown that stars appearing in your ads will still increase your CTR.

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Three ways you can harness online reviews for your business

1. Make the review process straightforward. Show your customers where they can leave a review by emailing them with a link. If budget allows, sign up for a review service such as Trustpilot Business to further streamline the process.

2. Give your customers something to rave about. In a world where consumer feedback is all-important online, make sure you’re providing the type of service that warrants a regular stream of fabulous reviews.

3. Meet the good with the bad. The downside of reviews can be negative feedback, but this can work in your favour in the long term. Show customers that you value their feedback, good or bad, by altering business practices where possible and making sure aggrieved customers are publicly compensated to show goodwill.

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