Consumer Reviews = One of the Fastest Paths to Digital Discovery
Here’s a hypothetical situation (and one where consumer reviews can make all the difference IRL): you just got a new dog. An adorable little pup you adopted from an animal shelter. But after all your social media posts and dog selfies, you realize you may be in over your head. He’s not housebroken. He barks at everything. This dog needs a trainer, stat.
What do you do? You pull out your phone, of course, and do a quick search for dog trainers near you. Within seconds you’ve got the names of 30 trainers within a ten-mile radius of your house. But how do you decide which one to call? If you’re like most Americans, you check the consumer reviews.
Consumer reviews on sites like Home Advisor, Angie’s List, or Yelp are incredibly helpful, offering real reviews from real people with real experience using your product or service. On Amazon, we search for products but we decide based on a combination of price and – you guessed it – consumer reviews. And when looking at a brand’s website, if consumer reviews are there, we’re checking them out.
Why do we care so much about consumer reviews? Because CGC, or “Consumer Generated Content,” feels real. This type of content is submitted by someone like us, so we rely upon CGC to prove (or disprove) claims made by brands. And for businesses today who depend on digital discovery to grow, good reviews are the coin of the realm.
Unsurprisingly, CGC has become one of the most critical digital marketing trends for businesses of all sizes. Just take a look at these stats about the role consumer reviews play in consumer purchasing decisions:
- 97% say consumer reviews factor into their buying decisions
- 92% of consumers hesitate to make a purchase if there are no customer reviews
- 73% say written reviews make more of an impression on them than star/number ratings
- 94% typically read written reviews
There’s no doubt about it: a rave review on a popular review site is worth its weight in gold. CGC could be the single most cost-effective way to boost your digital discoverability, get prospects into your sales funnel, and win new customers. As digital marketing trends go, it’s a total no-brainer.
How can you be proactive about getting your brand reviewed? This is where incentivized reviews can play a role.
Incentivized Consumer Reviews: What Are They and What Can They Do?
An incentivized review is when you offer something to your customers in exchange for them reviewing your product. Examples include sweepstakes entries; coupons or discount offers; loyalty points; or free product samples.
Incentivizing your customers to give you a review can be an extraordinarily effective way to get your name out to potential customers about your business and/or service. But you need to be careful, because there are legal restrictions about how you can approach customers about incentivized reviews.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, reviews may be incentivized as long as they are:
- Disclosed: If you pay a consumer to post a review, you should tell the consumer to disclose that fact—and then the burden is on YOU to make sure they do make a proper disclosure.
- Honest: No cheating allowed with consumer reviews. The review must generally reflect the consumer’s honest opinions, findings, beliefs, and experiences.
- Permitted on the platform: Many of the most popular review sites such as Google, Amazon, and Yelp do not allow incentivized reviews
Now that you’re aware of what you’re not allowed to do, let’s talk about some of what you can and should do.
What Are the Best Ways to Incentivize Reviews?
One of the best ways to get consumer reviews is to email your existing client list! Keep them excited about the experience from the moment they order, with an engaging sequence of emails: 1) let them know their order was received and is being worked on, 2) alert them when it ships, 3) make sure they received it, and 4) after they’ve had enough time to experience your product, send a customer satisfaction survey. (Customer satisfaction surveys are one of the most helpful digital marketing trends—make sure you send them to as many customers as you can.)
Maybe you’re already doing this. (If not, you know what’s on your to-do list today.) Even if you are already firing on all of these customer journey cylinders, are you then moving to the most important step for getting positive consumer reviews?
Step 5: Look for the happiest and most compelling writeups – and ask those customers if they would be willing to share their experience with a review so others know what to expect from your brand. This is an opportunity to connect on a personal level, so explain how important their review is, since customer reviews are the most effective way to get the word out about your business.
You’d be surprised how effective this often-overlooked step can be to getting more consumer reviews. In fact, 76% of consumers who are asked to leave a review will go on to do so. But before you get started, be aware of these digital marketing best practices.
Best Practices for Incentivized Reviews
Whether you’re a major consumer brand or an individual selling homemade jewelry on etsy, CGC is one of the most important digital marketing trends you’ll find online. If consumer reviews are not working hard for you, this is the first thing you need to fix. (After all, if your digital marketing efforts are focused on getting people to your site, you want them to have the best experience possible there…and by that we mean one that tees them up to purchase, now or in the near future.)
According to a recent study, 58% of U.S. online shoppers say that incentivized reviews inform their purchase decisions just as much as organic reviews. Which proves incentivization works, when done right.
Here are some practices to ensure you’re getting the most from your consumer reviews.
- Make sure your reviews sound credible:
You don’t want your review to sound like it was written by your Mom. Avoid anything that seems over-the-top. Reviews that have many superlatives or feel overly emotional reviews seem inauthentic. And that can instantly destroy your credibility.
- Stay current
Thinking back to the dog trainer. If the last review you read was written in 2015, would that give you pause? 54% of U.S. online shoppers believe a consumer review’s recency significantly factors into the brand’s credibility. Which means you need to stay current with your reviews.
- Don’t overpromise
Make sure your incentivized reviews set realistic expectations for your brand or service. Don’t overpromise. That will only lead to disappointed customers. And disappointed customers can quickly turn into angry, negative reviewers.
- One review is better than none
A product without any reviews is—to use an industry term—very, very bad. A zero-review causes 67% of customers surveyed to be less likely to buy or to hold off to do more research. Two-thirds of your potential customers may never use your brand because there are no reviews. Which is all the proof you need that consumer reviews work and they need to be a big part of your digital marketing strategy.
How to Boost Your Brand’s Digital Discovery
Interested in boosting your brand’s digital discovery? We can help. We’ve been trusted to help boost the online presence of brands in industries such as automotive, beauty, CPG, health & wellness, higher education, insurance, and more. Whether it’s a new website, more impactful social media, or a whole new digital discovery strategy, The S3 Agency’s Brand Elevation process will differentiate your brand (so more people want it) and amplify your digital marketing (so more people find it). Send an email to hear more!