User-generated reviews such as those in Yelp are highly influential when it comes to persuading or dissuading consumers in using a product or service.
Many business owners don’t like it, simply because disgruntled customers are more likely to express their negative experiences online.
Whether they like it or not, however, it is important for business owners to realize the power of these customer reviews.
A 2014 Local Consumer Review Survey conducted by BrightLocal revealed that 88 percent or almost nine out of 10 consumers read online reviews to see if a business is trustworthy based on what others have experienced.
Positive reviews make 72 percent of the respondents trust a business more.
Millennials, according to a report on Mashable, are 50 percent more likely to trust user-generated content than other media.
Half of those surveyed trust product information they get from social networking sites and 68 percent trust peer product reviews.
This is a tad higher than the 64 percent who trust professional reviews.
The thing is, less than a quarter of consumers write reviews, according to a study conducted by ReachLocal.
This vocal minority, representing the extremes in consumers’ brand experience, are the influential ones.
It is important, therefore, to have a better understanding on how these reviews affect a business’s reputation and sales, and to get reviews that would have a positive impact on your endeavor.
Gains from Reviews on Third-Party Websites
Your business or your websites have an impact in the sales of the retailer sites, as they influence customer reviews as well as help in spreading information through word of mouth.
Third-party websites grant consumers transparency, as it allows them to give and get relatively fair reviews for products and services – good ones based on good customer experience and negative ones for those not-so-good experiences.
Good businesses that earn positive feedback earn more trust, which equates to more transactions.
Advantages of Reviews on Your Own Website
It is not enough for a business to rely on other third-party review websites, however, It is always best to include product reviews in your own website, focused only on the things that your business offers.
This is to your advantage, according to several sources and studies:
· A study conducted by iPerceptions in 2011 revealed that 63 percent of potential customers are more likely to make a purchase when the website contains reviews from other customers.
· Consumer reviews, according to eMarketer, are almost 12 times more trusted than product descriptions provided by the company.
· There is 105 percent chance that a purchase will be made by a customer who engages in both reviews and Questions & Answers, says Bazaarvoice. Moreover, this type of consumers are likely to spend 11 times more than those who don’t peruse user-generated reviews.
· Customer engagement platform Reevoo says that a product with at least 50 reviews could equate to a 4.6 percent increase in rates of conversion.
While it is difficult to determine the exact percentage of increase in sales driven by user-generated reviews, Reevoo says a business gets an average sales increase of 18 percent when they add product reviews to their own websites
This includes a higher rate in return visits, more conversions, as well as a higher average.
But even if your business doesn’t gain this much boost, a 10 or 12 percent increase is still better than none.
Product Reviews and Search Rankings
Search engine optimization has been used by many businesses in order to improve sales.
They focus on keywords and key phrases that are likely to be used by consumers when they use a search engine, and they create content rich with these keywords.
This effort is likely to place the business higher in Search Engine Result Pages, otherwise called SERPs, which in turn results in more clicks.
This now begs the question of whether or not user-generated content can boost rankings.
The answer is, it might. Reviews from consumers provide additional content for the website, and these are likely to contain keywords – even long-tail ones – that might not have come up in your research or might have not been suited for your own content.
Moreover, many potential customers often search for reviews on a particular product, and the ones on your website could come up on the search engine results.
Google has been focusing on providing results for questions or queries that use natural language so, perhaps in the future, customer reviews could be included in the results since it fits rather nicely into that scope.
Also, snippets of positive reviews has the potential to increase a business’s click-through rates – that is, if the search engine company can find a way to verify reviews as trustworthy and include them in their search results.
Currently, user-generated content is still likely to be abused.
The Edge in Being a Google Certified Shop
Online search giant Google has a brand recognition service called Google Certified Shops, which recognizes merchants as a business that provides good service. This allows customers to feel more at ease in making purchases online.
Being accredited by Google generally equates to an increase in sales. There is a possibility that it has an effect on rankings on SERPs. This, however, is likely to apply only for the business itself and not on individual products or services.
The User-Generated Review That Works
Not every review posted by consumers is helpful to other potential customers.
Those that are effective are able to give information about your product or service, attest to your brand’s authenticity, as well as express their trust in what you offer.
Generally, these reviews describe how the customers use the product; they give a balanced opinion, pinpointing both positive and negative points; and they provide a comparison with similar products or services from competitors.
Consumers, in general, prefer to read positive reviews.
If a product receives a mixture of both positive and negative feedback, customers are less likely to make a purchase.
They will have second thoughts because of the conflicting reviews from those who like and don’t like the product and, more often than not, they will move on to the next brand that has more solid customer support.
Furthermore, it is believed that there is a correlation between the number of reviews and rates of conversion.
As mentioned earlier, Reevo says that products with more than 50 reviews see a higher conversion rate than those with less or no reviews.
How to Maximize Reviews
While a bigger quantity and better quality of reviews matter, these are not enough. The way you present these also influence sales.
· In the star-rating method, it is not exactly the stars that sway consumers to make a purchase; rather, it’s the accompanying review. Therefore, sort reviews based on their helpfulness.
· Often, reviews that are deemed most useful are the ones that use good language.
· Contrary to what many believe, a wider range of star ratings can help in increasing sales; thus, in the preview with, say, 10 reviews, present five with 5-star ratings and use the other five to represent the other ratings.
· In representing lower-number stars, select the reviews that put the product or business in a positive light despite the not-so-perfect score.
You can also try experimenting to see how different styles of language can influence sales.
If resources are available to you, then you can present the reviews at random while studying which ones have the most influence on your sales.
After this, you can sort the reviews that are able to influence conversion rates.
How Engaging in Conversation Can Help
With the Internet, consumers are able to freely express what they think and feel about a product or service.
Business owners will do well by listening to what they are saying as these can help in improving business. But you can take this a bit further by responding to feedback, be it positive or negative.
Responding to the comments made by customers shows you value them and their opinions. Giving them the sense of importance can encourage trust and loyalty.
Angry customers tend to calm down when the business acknowledges their anger, and happy ones are likely to spread the word about you.
Optimize to Increase Visitors
There are different ways of optimizing your website in order to increase the number of visits that could potentially convert to sales.
Primarily, you need to make your business more visible so it’s easier to find.
· Website Design.
A well-crafted website can increase conversation rates. For instance, clear meta descriptions not only help in search visibility but they also give users an idea of what they can expect when they visit the site.
Search engines, Google specifically, prefers clean, clutter-free web pages that are not filled with too may ads.
Moreover, simple websites load much faster, something that visitors appreciate and that Google considers.
A report by TagMan says that if loading is delayed by 1 second, the results could lead to a 7 percent decline in the rate of conversion.
Having a mobile-friendly website contributes greatly in terms of conversion. It not only boosts Google rankings, it is also the best way to reach a wide audience.
In an official statement last year, Google announced that there would be more mobile-friendly websites appearing in search results.
Likewise, search results would be churning out more relevant app content.
Therefore, a website optimized for mobile devices such as tablets and cellphones are likely to get prioritized by the search engine’s algorithm.
The experience of O’Neill Clothing says as much. They compared the conversion rate, the transactions made, and the revenues earned three weeks before and three weeks after the launch of the responsive version of their website.
On Apple devices, they saw a 65.71 percent increase in conversion; and on Android devices, the increase was at 407.21 percent.
· Images and Video Content
Tests have shown that websites with images can help boost conversion. Not only do they make your pages more interesting, alt tags also help in search results.
Moreover, the images that you use could possibly appear on Google’s Image Search.
While images that appear in the Image Search might not necessarily result to clicks, still, people sharing your images in social media along with citations are likely to have a good impact on your website’s rankings.
Along with images, videos also help in search engine optimization and conversation rate optimization as they help in attaining targeted organic traffic.
By correctly utilizing a video schema that provides bots a lot of information, you can more easily get indexed in search engines.
While videos have been reported to increase conversation rates, the challenge here is to rank in video search results alongside the popular video sharing sites Vimeo and YouTube.
In terms of traffic, organic search seems to be better for conversion rate optimization than other types, namely: pay-per-click, which can change along with marketing budgets or campaigns; direct traffic, which needs support from other methods for people to go directly to your site; and referral system, which can be affected by removal of links from referring sites.
Organic search traffic is less likely to affected by issues stemming from other sources.
Usability can have an impact on your website’s visibility on search results.
For instance, the way search engines rank your site can be affected positively if your bounce rate improves or if your visitors stay longer.