Many businesses spend lots of cash to promote their products and services. They invest in a website, PPC advertising, SEO campaigns, social media outreach, email marketing and anything they think will drive customers to their websites. But many businesses miss the mark when it comes to closing the sale—they don’t have customers selling the products and services for them.
In other words, they don’t have customer reviews. It may not seem like a big deal, but online reviews give consumers that final piece of information that they need before they can say, “Yes, I want to be your customer.” According to a recent survey,
92% of consumers hesitate to make a purchase if there are no customer reviews
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More Details, Please!
Consumers make buying decisions based on the information they find on a website. It’s becoming a common practice to post lots of photos and write a highly detailed description of the product or service.
Certainly, photos are important, especially for fashion retailers. According to www.pixelz.com, “Many apparel photographers overlook the importance of communicating shape and fit to customers…photographing a garment on a mannequin or a live model is perhaps the best way to showcase that garment’s shape and encourage customers to visualize it being worn by themselves.” Small retailers may not have the time or expertise to do a great job with photographs. And even the best photos are not like seeing, touching and trying on.
Photos and descriptions cannot replace the experience of handling a product in real-life—that’s where customer reviews can really help.
All Is Well Until…
So you’ve got a great website with expressive photos, detailed descriptions and a really smart online marketing campaign.
Your marketing campaigns have done the job and brought new potential consumers to your website.
By now, most online shoppers realize that photos can be deceiving and product/service descriptions are always missing some critical detail. Shoppers look to customer reviews, particularly written reviews, to fill in the gaps. According to the survey, when consumers read written reviews,
37% say they’re primarily looking for details on reviewers’ experiences because those details help them decide if the product/service is going to suit their needs.
31% scan the reviews to look for descriptions of problems with the product/service
If that information is not available, you’re less likely to make the sale. Now you might be thinking, “What if I get a bunch of bad reviews? How does that help me?”
Every business should expect somenegative reviews. Who hasn’t dealt with a customer who is never satisfied? The unhappy customer is the one that will write a review without any prompting from the business. You can and should do something to counter negative reviews. Daniel Lemin, author of “ManipuRated: How Business Owners Can Fight Fraudulent Online Ratings and Reviews,” says, “Small businesses have nothing to lose by engaging their critics. The recipe is simply apologizing and asking for another chance. The criticism may hurt, but the way a business responds matters.”
And Barbara Findlay Schenck, author of ”Small Business Marketing Kit for Dummies,” recommends finding out which three sites customers use most and then setting up online alerts to monitor them. “The minute you see a bad review, look for a shard of truth. Is this something you can improve? Look for what you can fix. But don’t fight fire with fireby getting into an argument with a reviewer.”
The Upside of a Bad Review
When you publicly engage with unhappy customers and do your best to make things right, you’re sending a very strong message that you are not a business that will take the money and run. You stand behind your products and services and always do the right thing. When you reply to a negative review and apologize for a customer’s bad experience (or perceived bad experience) others will feel confident that you’ll take good care of them too.
Besides giving a business the opportunity to demonstrate how they fix things when something goes wrong, customers actually want to see a few negative reviews. According to the survey, 34% say that a mix of positive and negative reviews makes them believe that the reviews are relevant and useful.
Get the Party Started
As previously mentioned, unhappy customers are more inclined to write reviews than are happy customers.
Your devoted and repeat customers might think you’re great and maybe they recommend you to their friends—all good of course—but your job is to prompt those happy customers to write reviews. Send them an email with a link to the review site where you would like them to leave their review. You might want to offer a small discount on a future purchase as an incentive. For more tips on getting customer reviews, read “How to Ask Customers for Reviews (and Actually Get Them).”
Matt Harding is the founder and creative director at Fan & Fuel in Carlsbad, CA. The design and digital strategy group creates branding, eCommerce, social media, and digital marketing solutions to connect audiences in the manufacturing, service, retail, and lifestyle trend markets.
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