Some people think that online reviews don’t really affect their industry or their product. Those people are wrong. There are products that people will continue to support even if the reviews are negative. If critics don’t like a superhero movie, it’s still going to break box office records. But this doesn’t mean that reviews do not affect the product at all.
Long ago, reviews were simply intended to tell people whether or not a product or service was worth it. This is no longer the case. Today, reviews are part of the marketing process, they factor into your analytics roadmap, they affect your Google ranking. Put simply, if you’re not getting reviews on relevant websites, then not enough people are talking about. Online reviews are absolutely vital to any serious, long-term growth for your business. Positive reviews will bump you up the search results on sites like Amazon.
Online reviews are beneficial, and they’re also an indicator of a healthy buzz. This is why buying reviews only go so far. Sure, it can help you to get your foot in the door, so to speak, but ultimately you need legitimate attention being paid to your business. It’s like with Twitter followers. Maybe you can buy 5,000 bots and that will help to drive you up the algorithm a bit, but if your content isn’t solid, you can’t expect a lot of real live humans to keep following you, and if humans aren’t following you, then you’re not making conversions, because bots don’t make a lot of purchases, and neither do pay review writers.
How Online Reviews Can Help
Online reviews will benefit your company in any number of ways. As alluded to above, the first and most obvious way the reviews will help is…
This is the main thing, visibility. People will block ads, they’ll skip pre-roll commercials on Youtube, they’ll channel-surf during TV spots. But they do read reviews.
People are herd animals. The irony is that we also like being the early adopters. But we don’t like taking a chance on just anything. We like discovering something that already has a few positive reviews but we’re not likely to take a risk on being first. It’s kind of the catch-22 of being a hipster, right? People don’t want to recommend a band that nobody else is talking about because what if nobody else likes them? But hipsters want to be savvy on bands that are still building an audience, just not so early in the process that they wind up betting on the wrong horse.
So even early adopters usually don’t like being first. A dozen positive reviews will get people talking, but almost nobody wants to be the first to give something a try. This is why you’re much more likely to pitch in on a Kickstarter that already has a few backers, but if it’s at zero dollars a week after it went up, you’re not likely to open up your wallet.
Even a few online reviews can sort of grease the wheels for your product or service. With a few reviews, you’ll have early adopters wanting to give it a try. Once enough early adopters give it a try, everyone else will be soon to follow.
Just one positive review, from a verified reviewer who doesn’t seem to have been a paid ghostwriter, can lend your product some credibility. It’s not just sitting there all lonesome on its Amazon listing. Someone, somewhere, gave it a try, and liked it. Your product has been acknowledged by somebody, and that goes a long way to earning the trust of future customers.
Sometimes an online review is just a great way to provide someone with a chance to click through to your website. They can read all the relevant information right there in the review, and then click the link. SEO can be a tricky game to master. People will google the exact name of your product or business, and you’ll be in thirtieth place in the rankings. That’s a game that you want to learn, but that can wait for now. The point is that a review can be an effective funnel to bring people to your product listing.
Finally, while product reviews as simple ratings so that customers can make informed decisions may now be less their primary purpose than once upon a time, that is still something that reviews are important for. People do read reviews to find out which products to buy. Does it match the product description? Is the photo in the listing accurate? Did it ship on time? These are all questions that people want to have answered before they make a purchasing decision. The more reviews the better, and even negative reviews can help to raise visibility, but obviously, you want as many of these reviews to be positive as possible.
All Reviews Count
It is worth noting that while Yelp and Amazon reviews are among the easiest to measure and will go the farthest in pushing you up the Google search rankings, all reviews count. Youtube reviews count, Facebook reviews count, Twitter reviews count. And not specifically when people post reviews to your page on these sites, but when they post any commentary at all. Someone talking about your product on a street corner with a few friends is going to help you get more sales, and the same goes online. Your reviewer doesn’t need to post their comments to a review website and then add a five-star rating in order to help you convert more customers.
If someone with a few hundred friends on Facebook mentions that they love your new t-shirt design, then if even just a couple dozen of their friends take a look, and two or three share the link, then that’s more attention than you had before they shared your products on the site. All attention counts, and as long as it isn’t overtly negative, all attention helps.
The basic idea behind internet reviews is this: If you like it, tell a friend.
And then, of course, if their friend likes it, they can tell a friend, too. And so on.
It’s not exactly “free advertising” though. You could say that it’s advertising that you don’t pay for with money. You don’t hire an advertising firm to come up with a campaign, you don’t buy banner ad space and TV time in order to air the ads. And once the review is up, it’s up forever, for all intents and purposes. You don’t rent space as you do with “paid” advertising. But it’s not free, and here’s why: It’s harder to get your first reviews than it is to just buy advertising. Anyone can buy advertising, not everyone can earn authentic buzz through reviewers.
The first review is the hardest one to get. Nobody’s heard of your product or business, nobody seems to care, and nobody’s buying anything. We’ve mentioned buying reviews, but when the only reviewer is giving you five stars and they have no other reviews to their name, it’s easy to see through it. Not only that but a single review doesn’t hold a lot of weight if it was posted by some random reviewer on Amazon, even if it’s a legitimate, authentic user.
So how do you get that first review? Well, here are some ideas:
- Give stuff away
If you have any familiarity with your field at all, then you probably already know the names of a few vloggers, bloggers and YouTubers who could give you a big boost with a single review. Sending free products to these people can be a great way to earn some credibility right up front. Quite often you may find that you get a lot of mileage out of just a handful of high-profile reviews. By getting a few popular influencers on your side, you can have an immense impact in a relatively short period of time, where relying on reviews from sites like Yelp and Amazon is more of a slow-drop process.
Of course, it depends on the product, the industry and so on. Not all fields have these influencers, although more so than not in the modern age. People love sharing their opinions, and some people are more eloquent, more informed, or just better looking than others, and these people tend to draw more followers than typical users of these platforms.
- Reach out directly
Seek out people in need of your product and sell them on it, person to person. You can do this with targeted advertising, too, but the personal touch can go a long way. If you’re a part of an online community and you use it to pimp your product a little too frequently, people will get tired of it, but engage them in a conversation and mention your product. “Oh, you have that problem too? That’s why I came up with this new product, actually…”
- Ask for reviews
Some of your first buyers might love your product, but they won’t think to post a review anywhere. A little bit of encouragement can go a long way. You put a call to action at the end of your sales page, why not at the end of your sale? Making a follow-up with your customer can help. Ask them how they’re enjoying the product, if they have any suggestions for changes, and give them a little nudge to make their opinions known.
- Coupons, coupons, coupons!
Obviously, coupon codes will go a long way. You can use coupon codes to get fast sales at the start of a product launch, you can also use it to reward people for discussing your product online.
Our bizlitix platform can help assist you and your company to mitigate customer reviews online and protect your reputation. Track and manage online reviews, whether good or bad, to ensure your online reputation remains flawless.
The more reviews you’re getting, the better. Even if you get some negative reviews along the way, a hundred negative reviews and two hundred positive reviews is better than five positive reviews and no negative reviews at all. That is not to say that you should not put some attention into addressing negative reviews, of course. If the balance shifts, then the positive reviewers will be seen as delusional and people will listen to the negative reviewers. If someone posts a negative review, go ahead and ask them what you can do to make things right. They might post a follow-up review announcing that they had you all wrong. Or they might not, but it’s worth a shot.
But the thing is that if people are paying attention to you at all, then you’re going to get some negative reviews. Look at your favorite song on Youtube. It has a few downvotes no matter how much people love it. In fact, the more popular it is, the more downvotes it’s going to get.
The point is that the online economy runs on attention, and reviews are one of the best ways to get attention to your product.