Do your customers post reviews of your company’s product line and overall service experience? How often? Where are they publishing these reviews? Are they generally positive? What are you doing to proactively maximize the exposure that these reviews get? Do you have processes in place for asking more customers to review you and for following up on the feedback you receive?
Marketing thought leader Neil Patel has a lot of valuable advice to share about a slew of tactics that can increase your business’s ability to get found, to close dales and to retain customers. But one of the topics that Patel is most passionate about is customer reviews.
Not only does he talk the talk as a hardcore proponent of collecting and promoting reviews, he’s also walks the walk. Positive reviews of Neil Patel’s various digital presences, software companies, publications and side projects can be found all over the web – it’s one of the things that differentiates him from other marketing thought leaders.
So even if you’ve got a good number of testimonials or ratings on your website or on Google My Business, it’s probably a fraction of what you could be doing, and Patel has many pearls of wisdom to share about the value of doing more.
To help you follow in the footsteps of this well-known expert, here are the main reasons why you need more reviews from your customers.
Reviews Serve as Social Proof
Neil Patel is not shy when it comes to leveraging social proof to grow his business. There are several types of social proof you can use to encourage people to do business with you. Reviews, along with testimonials, can be considered user social proof.
“Customer reviews can be immensely powerful,” Patel wrote in one recent blog post. “When’s the last time you made a meaningful purchase on Amazon or any e-tailer without glancing at the reviews? While ratings and reviews often go hand-in-hand with testimonials, it’s the scoring systems I’m endorsing here — usually a 5-star system — as a source of social proof.”
Indeed, social proof works because people want to be like everyone else. People are more likely to buy products that have high reviews, or eat at a restaurant that everyone praises, because they believe in the wisdom of the crowd, either consciously or unconsciously.
What makes reviews even more powerful? About 91% of people read online reviews and use them as part of their buying decisions, so the more good reviews you have, the more business you can generate.
Reviews are Crucial to Managing Your Online Reputation
If you’re not paying attention to the reviews that are coming in to your business, you may find that your customers are out there repelling new buyers away from you. If someone searches for your brand name on Google and finds nothing but a ton of bad reviews, there isn’t much reason for them to do business with you. Instead, they will likely head straight to your competition.
While it’s true that you cannot make 100% of your customers happy 100% of the time, if you have a poor online reputation you won’t be able to keep the doors open long.
Proactively reading and responding to reviews, while taking action to remedy problem areas can boost your reputation so bad things won’t be the first things people see.
Reviews Boost Your SEO Efforts
Reviews help your SEO efforts, because search engines pay attention to review signals. These review signals include the number of reviews for your business across multiple platforms, review velocity, and the diversity of reviews. The more reviews and the more positive reviews you have, the better off you are. Google knows people want to see what others think of companies, products, and services, so they will provide reviews when and wherever possible. If you’ve got a lot of good reviews, Google is more likely to show your content, because it will be both helpful and useful for their audience.
The Google My Business support resources indicate that businesses should be interacting with customers by responding to the reviews they take the time to leave about your business. This shows Google that you value your customers and their feedback.
When you respond to reviews, it can be hard not to take negative ones personally. While you may want to go on the defensive, it’s best for you in on the customer if you don’t. Rather than being combative with the reviewer, Neil Patel recommends that “If the criticism is valid, and if there is something you can do to fix the problem, you should make an effort to please the customer.”
This is basically a variation of what GrooveHQ calls the HEARD technique:
One of the most important aspects of HEARD, from an SEO and reputation management perspective, is that it lets anyone who may read the review in the future know that you’re making the effort to fix your mistakes and prevent them from happening again. Refusing to address the issue could lead to more unhappy customers and negative reviews.
Always be prompt with your response, even if it’s just to say that you are investigating the issue before you will be back in touch.
Reviews Help You Gauge Customer Satisfaction
If you want to know how people are feeling about your company, products, or services, read the reviews people are leaving for you on various sites. You can set up a Google Alert that features your company’s name, and use various social listening tools to catch the reviews and conversations as they happen. If you see more positive reviews than negative ones, that’s a good thing, as it suggests that people are generally satisfied.
However, it’s important to look for patterns in both positive and negative reviews. Do the good ones mention the same employee over and over? Perhaps it’s time to give that employee some recognition. Are the good reviews happening only on the weekends, or when there’s a certain special or sale you’re running? Are the bad reviews happening with a particular staff member, or time of day, week, or month?
If you notice patterns, it is time to do some homework. Maybe the lunch staff isn’t as well equipped to handle the lunch rush, and you need to bring in more helping hands. Maybe the Kids Eat Free promo should be extended to Tuesday and Wednesday nights. This type of qualitative customer feedback is vital to helping you make informed decisions about where to take your business next.
Reviews Can Help You Grow
The bottom line is that by building a steady stream of positive reviews, you’ll make it easier to generate more. People want to be like everyone else, remember? When they see so many people have taken the time to leave those reviews for you, they’re more likely to leave you one, too. And when those new reviews drive more business, you’ll earn more revenue.