Technology has transformed the way we search, find, and buy products and services. When someone searches for anything online, they expect to see the best results to help them solve their pain or need.

Reviews play a crucial role in the online shopping world, but they also help us save time, energy and gas, facilitating information about practically any type of business, both on and offline. Google, Facebook, UpCity, TripAdvisor, Yelp, all search engines, as well as most social media platforms have reviews platforms.   

Reviews have become a fundamental part of the online shopping experience and one of the main reasons why someone will choose one product or service over another. Just as you read reviews to decide whether you’ll pull the trigger on any online purchase, everyone else is doing it too! A happy customer speaking about their real experience could be the critical factor for any other potential customer to give you a shot.

Explore the top 5 reasons why you need online reviews for your business, and get that social proof started!

How Online Reviews Saved My Trip

During the summer of 2015, I was excited to visit my friend in London for 7 days.

Two weeks before my trip, she told me she had randomly decided to move to Denmark.

I had to act quick. Paying for a hotel wasn’t an option, I was a student and London happens to be one of the most expensive cities in Europe.

So, my other friend and I decided to try Couchsurfing and based our decision entirely on reviews. The person that ended up hosting us was exactly as described by the previous 10 people that had stayed with him. We had a blast and became good friends (he is now even married to one of my best friends!).

Through other travelers recommendations, I became confident that I was going to have a safe, pleasant experience with the host, and, of course, I also left a positive review!

How Online Reviews Can Help Your Business

Online reviews are useful in every industry, no matter if you work on tourism, manufacturing, or retail. There are various reasons why someone will look for a product or service online.

Some people are just browsing for fun, curiosity, or boredom, with no intention of buying (for now), others are looking for specific products, or to hire a professional, to plan a vacation or to discover a new restaurant.

Some people need to solve a critical problem; their home water pump broke, their factory overhead crane stopped working…they need to fix this ASAP.

All of these reasons are an opportunity for you to show up and convince them that your product or service will satisfy their need or solve their problem.

Customer experiences are far more crucial for your overall business than you may realize, because in today’s world, losing a sale due to a bad experience may have further implications.

With the rapid increase of online peer review opportunities, everyone has access to your past customer experiences.

Don’t believe me? Take these statistics into account:

With reviews playing such a large role in the modern buyer journey, how can you stay on top of your game? Below we discuss the main reasons why stepping up your recommendations game will help you increase brand awareness and conversions online.

1. Reviews Help with Online Visibility

Google’s primary goal is to help its users find the best options for their needs.

If someone searches for what you offer, Google will consider different factors to show your listing, and it will reward you for having relevant content.

User-generated content is one of the critical elements that help Google understand that your page is useful for users looking for that specific product or service. When someone leaves a review, they are naturally using the words that others will search for. In SEO, this combination of words is called long tail keywords. Those three to four words phrases are precise to what you are offering, like “industrial gearbox repair in Cleveland” or “best vegan restaurants downtown.”

Having some reviews naturally helps you rank higher, plus, when a person sees that someone else left a positive review, there are better chances that they will want to tell their story too.

2. Reviews Make You Trustworthy

Buying something that you’ve never seen from a company you’ve never heard of can be scary.

Social proof is key to building confidence and lower purchase anxiety. People are influenced by other people’s opinions, particularly if they can relate to them on any level. Consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local company, and 57% of those consumers will only use a business if it has 4 or more stars. 

Asking your customers to talk about their experience with your business will generate peace of mind on potential customers that are still trying to make a decision. Did you know that for a business if they are asked? Don’t be scared to ask for an online recommendation, not everyone realizes or remembers, and most people would gladly take the time to do so if they’re satisfied with your business.

Remember, consumers prefer written reviews and not just star/number ratings.

3. Reviews Are Essential to Decision Making

Consumer habits have dramatically changed in the past decade. $517.36 billion were spent online with U.S. merchants in 2018, and  say that customer reviews affect their buying decision.

It is simple: consumers want to make better decisions more quickly. And to help with that, they want to know what other people experienced before. A thorough review is the next best thing to seeing a product or using a service in person.

Both positive and negative reviews can help you better understand the product and be confident about your decision. Why would I risk my time and money in a company that has no record of customer success?

People are also more likely to want to do business with you if there are indicators that other people are already doing so.

4. Reviews Empower Customers & Build Brand Fans

When you ask a customer to leave a review, you are giving them the mic; it’s their stellar moment to talk about their experience and feel like their voice matters.

More and more, people today build their identity around the products they buy, companies they shop, and media they consume. If someone loves your business or product, reviews give them a place to be loud and proud about it!

On a collective level, it makes customers feel helpful towards others, as they can explain why they recommend other people to use, or not use, that product or service.

5. Reviews Can Save You Money

Credible, unique reviews inspire trust in customers, and that trust encourages consumers to try a product that they are not familiar with.

People feel confident buying from a brand or utilizing a service that family or friends recommended.

The online world works similarly, and consumers will always feel more comfortable buying from a brand that’s supported by others. Discovery and acquisition happen naturally through recommendations and reviews, and it costs you less than leveraging other elements of the marketing funnel.

Where Do I Start?

Think of the platforms in which you’ve read reviews on, and compare those businesses to yours. Where would your ideal customers look for recommendations for the products or services that you offer? Is it Facebook, Yelp, Google, Better Business Bureau? Have you considered integrating those reviews into your website or landing pages?

As the digital marketing landscape adjusts and expands, incorporating reviews is a must for staying relevant and trustworthy. Start small and safely asking for reviews from customers that you already have a relationship with, and slowly expand to everyone you generate successful business connections with.