Product reviews are key factors that influence brand perception. Your customers’ shared opinions and experiences can either derail your business or accelerate its success. Thus, consumer-focused brands looking to cultivate a positive brand perception should acquire tools and tactics to maximize online reputation.
This six-part guide will explore the concept of ratings and reviews in 2022 and reveal effective methods to collect and implement them in building brand reputation.
Ratings & Reviews in 2022
How Do Ratings & Reviews Affect the Buyer’s Journey?
Ratings are a star score from 1-5 that evaluates a product or service’s quality, while reviews are testimonials written by customers who have purchased and used a product or service.
A market survey revealed that 90 percent of buyers rely on this feedback to make more informed purchase decisions. And they attach more importance to such content over other incentives like loyalty programs, promo offers, or free shipping.
Why do buyers always look out for ratings & reviews? Well, they provide invaluable social proof. These feedbacks allow consumers to find out if people like them were happy with what they bought.
What Information Should the Ideal Customer Review Incorporate?
Firstly, a good review should come off in a civil and friendly tone. It should give a detailed and specific description of the overall experience to be well relatable to the reader. Longer reviews would typically make for more engagement.
Moreover, buyers love to get the feeling that real, helpful people—not just unfeeling machines—will be attending to their needs. So it would also help if a review names the attendant who took care of their needs.
Review Volume: More is More
The more reviews a brand has, the better. Shoppers are more likely to interact with businesses with plenty of reviews than fewer. It’s simple logic to patronize a business that’s more widely talked about than another with little publicity, even though both businesses are performing at the same level in terms of product quality and customer service.
It’s not just humans who notice when customers talk about your business a lot. Search engines notice them too, and this perception can help you get better exposure online.
Review Recency: Fresh Ratings & Reviews Content is Key
Business ownership and business operations can change; products and services could have evolved too. That’s why recent reviews hold more weight than old ones. Shoppers tend to look for the most recent reviews to understand the business’ current reputation. It also helps them understand whether if old issues have been resolved.
Therefore, no business can ever have enough customer feedback. Reviews need to come in frequently to help customers evaluate the present relevance of the business.
Making the Ask
The easiest way to get reviews is to ask for them. While this step can feel awkward or self-serving, the truth is that customers love to discuss their experiences. Email campaigns and text messages are the most popular communication channels businesses use to collect customer feedback.
A majority of customer reviews come from post-transactional review request emails. These emails should be simple, short, and friendly. It would be even more impactful if the message were personalized based on the specific purchase instead of a general email message. To further streamline the collection process via email, the review submission form should be embedded in the email so that it’s more convenient for recipients to submit their feedback.
Review collection via text messages tends to be faster than emails, especially when reaching out to the younger generation who are not as accustomed to email communication. However, you should carefully select the customers you ask for reviews. For example, a customer you’ve helped through a long or difficult problem is probably not your best candidate.
Maximizing Review Volume and Recency
Ask more than once
A simple practice that can increase the quantity of feedback you get from customers is to ask more than once. It’s possible that you haven’t received a review from a customer simply because they missed your first email or were not available at the time to reply.
Time your requests correctly
You typically need to send your request within 30 days of order completion. But you also have the type of product in question. For example, customer feedback for long-lasting items like furniture or shoes can be sent after two weeks. But for seasonal items like Christmas lights and Halloween costumes, you need to wait until the holiday is over before sending feedback requests.
Optimizing Review Quality
Encourage long-form reviews
Shoppers prefer more detailed reviews than concise ones. So when preparing a review collection form, include as many multiple choice checkboxes as you can.
Ask for visual content.
Photos and videos submitted by other customers drive more conversions than text-based reviews. So ensure to ask your customers for such media too.
How to Create Review Displays that Convert
After collecting reviews from customers, the next step is to ensure that it gets to the eyes of your target audience. The best place to insert your review display is on your product pages. It should include a review snapshot, search and filter buttons, demographic information, and verified buyer badge.
Displaying Reviews Throughout Your Website
You can also showcase review content throughout your website to attract visitors to your product pages. One place to do this is in a sidebar on the About Us Page. Your menu and services pages are also great positions to consider. Then, if you’ve got plenty of reviews, you can dedicate an entire page to pinning them. The WP Business Reviews widget is an invaluable tool for this purpose.
What to Do About Negative Reviews and 1-Star Ratings
Why Negative Reviews Can Help You
Everyone loves positive reviews, but negative reviews could still be valuable. Negative reviews add authenticity to your content and convince customers of your trustworthiness.
Having a bunch of five-star reviews all over your website looks suspicious. Buyers are already aware that no product or service pleases everyone all of the time. So live up to their expectations and allow the negative reviews to sit on your website.
Three Ways to Leverage Negative Reviews to Boost Your Bottom Line
Respond to negative reviews
Prospective customers may frown at a negative review, but their perception of the situation gets lighter when the review is followed up with a reply. Negative reviews present the opportunity to highlight and reinforce the things customers already love about your brand. The ideal response to such reviews typically begins with appreciating the feedback, apologizing for the bad experience, and accepting responsibility—finally, a second chance to set things right.
Analyze negative reviews to identify actionable insights
Sometimes customers’ dissatisfaction with a product or service indicates weak points on the part of the vendor or service provider. So instead of dismissing such feedback, business admins should put themselves in their customer’s shoes to see how they can make their products or service more satisfying.
Address negative reviews in a blog post
Once you’ve found a solution, create a blog post off it and let your customers and the general public know that you’re doing something about it.
Ratings & Reviews as an SEO tool
Search engine algorithms are constantly evolving, and customer reviews have quickly become a vital criterion for ranking. How does this feedback boost your online exposure? First off, Google sees these reviews as pieces of content, and they are inherently keyword-rich. So if the search algorithm scans your website and finds more keywords on it, you can consider it a plus to your SEO.
Additionally, relevance is at the forefront of ranking criteria. Thus, having many people talk about your business is the perfect indication that Google needs to promote your pages. Engagement is another criterion for improving SEO, and that’s exactly what happens on your website when people comment, or you reply.
Another way ratings and reviews help boost your SEO is by reducing your bounce rate. Shoppers tend to spend more time (and money) on businesses with reviews than businesses without. And once search engines establish that people interact well with your content, it means an automatic improvement in your rankings.
Image & Video
How User-Generated Imagery Fuels Smart Purchase Decisions
Nowadays, buying and selling online hardly occurs without visual media. While site-provided product images give sufficient description to potential customers, there can be an element of distrust toward them. The idea is usually that the seller must have polished these images to make them appear as enticing as possible. However, shoppers’ skepticism wanes when they see user-submitted photos without filters or any form of enhancement. It helps them get more realistic expectations from the product or service.
Maximize the Impact of User-Generated Imagery
Request visual content via email
While this step might seem self-serving, you might be surprised at how many of your customers are willing to send you a photo or video of them using your product. If they don’t reply after the first email, send a follow-up.
Request visual content on your home page
If sending individual emails to your customers is too stressful, you can easily ask them for submissions through a section of your website.
Curate visual content from social media
Social media is an invaluable resource for getting user-generated imagery. All you need to do is choose a keyword or hashtag related to your product, then crawl the platform for visual content. When you find any useful material, you then have to get the user’s permission before using their photos or videos.
Bottom Line: Quick Tips for Improving Your Ratings & Reviews Strategy in 2022
This guide has discussed the key practices that will help you run a successful and productive review strategy in 2022. To summarize, here are some quick tips to keep in mind.
Ask the right questions.
Getting high-quality data from customers’ feedback begins with asking the right questions. The questions to ask will depend on the type of answers you’re looking to get. Generally, these questions should hover around the shopper’s interests and concerns during the buying journey. They should be straightforward, unbiased, and optional.
Follow up with buyers.
We’ve mentioned earlier in this guide that the perfect timing to ask for customer feedback is within 30 days of order completion. This is because you’re likely to get a review when the experience is still fresh in their minds.
Consistently collect more, better quality reviews.
Your brand can never have enough reviews. As long as you’re still in business, you’ll always need new, updated reviews as shoppers value recency when evaluating customer feedback. To ensure that new reviews keep coming in, create a review collection schedule and abide by it.
Engage With All Reviews
Did you know that besides the customer feedback in the review section, visitors to your website also note how you respond to reviews? This is especially true with negative reviews, as a warm and confident response can reassure potential customers of your trustworthiness.
Give your customers a reason to review you.
Not every customer would accept submitting their reviews, but you can increase their likelihood of participating with small gestures that make big impressions. It may be something as simple as writing a personalized thank you note. Or a happy birthday message. Try going the extra mile and see the tremendous results that come with it.