Rotem is a Tel Aviv-based writer, analyst, marketer & Investor.
Before buying a product, we need to make sure it meets our expectations. Prior to the internet, we ask friends, family, and any store employees for advice before purchase. However, with an enormous amount of information and opinions about products in an eCommerce marketplace, who can we trust? The only option is to turn to online reviews from people who are just like us, who have already experienced the product.
Research shows that 82% of consumers say that positive reviews make them more likely to engage with a business. This statistic means that these product reviews from impartial, everyday people are a modern way of boosting a business’s credibility and encouraging further word-of-mouth marketing.
Businesses can continue improving customer conversations by conducting sentiment analysis using product review data. Analyzing customer insights from product review data can help companies make better strategic decisions, can improve their understanding of their customers, and create a better experience for all.
People want to buy from individuals that they trust. If a company's product or service has good reviews, it reassures a customer that a business is genuine and has a good reputation. After all, a company that other customers trust and purchase from is less likely to sell faulty goods that would hurt its reputation. A survey demonstrates that 78% of its audience trust online product reviews.
Following this, this study also highlighted that 39% of these individuals felt that reviews helped them make an informed purchase decision quicker. This shows that social proof influences our behavior and drives us to buy what other people have purchased. This behavior occurs, especially when we buy a product for the first time or face various similar options. Indirectly copying the behavior of a person we don’t know saves us the trouble of going through all the options ourselves. It also reduces our anxiety about purchasing a new product as we can rely on those who have already made that choice.
Booking.com effectively uses this type of social proof from customer reviews to boost its hotels' credibility for a destination.
Apart from the number of reviews and the star rating available for a hotel, it also encourages people to click on an option with its 'last booked' pop-up. The header at the top of the page also allows people to choose a hotel by its star rating or popular choice.
When clicking on a particular hotel option, we can see that the star rating is based on the scores of features like facilities, comfort, cleanliness, value for money, and location. We can also browse a selection of the reviews on this page before viewing all of the guest reviews.
Most importantly, Booking.com encourages customers to trust its reviews with its 100% real guest experiences disclaimer, its ability to filter the reviews by good and bad scores, and by encouraging hotels to respond to all reviews, whether positive or negative. Responding to negative reviews improves customer conversations as it can turn an unhappy customer into a brand advocate.
While no business likes lower ratings for its products, a negative review demonstrates trust and authenticity as most people know that a business's product or service isn't perfect. Research shows that 82% of people seek out negative reviews to determine whether a product is the right fit.
Further research from the Harvard Business Review also indicates that businesses who responded to negative reviews with a personalized response instigated an increased empathy among third-party customers. This strategy encourages further word-of-mouth marketing as these personalized responses displayed the human element of a business.
Lidl embraced its critics and took this strategy one step further; a digital campaign to alter its brand's negative perception of its products. It embarked on a 'Lidl Surprises' TV ad campaign where the public complimented Lidl's products' quality without knowing they were from the supermarket. After revealing that these products are from Lidl, the ad focuses on the public's surprised faces.
When this campaign aired in Scotland, it caused an overnight national shortage of its chocolate cake in Lidl's Scotland stores! Furthermore, it increased its total number of customers by 20%. This ad was influential in encouraging further conversations as it showed what a product was like in real-life conditions with everyday people.
Research also showed that when it comes to trusting a business, 79% of people trust online product reviews as much as friends and family recommendations. In addition to this statistic, this study also showed that 72% of people had written a local business review this year, which increased from 66% in 2019.
These figures mean that more people want reviews and are also willing to improve customer conversations by adding further reviews for businesses themselves. So, what does an abundance of reviews for companies mean? The more reviews a product has, the higher the revenue. Its research demonstrated that adding just one review to a product page results in a 10% lift in order.
Even more, businesses can expect a 37.5% lift in orders when they go from 0 to 100 reviews. Further findings also indicate that displaying product reviews for higher-priced products increases the conversion rate by 380%.
Customer-written product reviews keep a business page fresh and full of product-driven content that boosts search traffic. Research shows that adding reviews to a product page typically results in a 15% -25% increase in search traffic. Regular reviews also mean that there is fresher content for search engines to rank higher. Additionally, most reviews will include keywords, like the name of the products. This means that a business's reviews are more likely to be seen when people search for these keywords on the internet.
Companies can also improve their Google reviews through a Google My Business listing. A business can get more clicks, leads, and revenue by actively enhancing the number of positive reviews posted, and thereby the average star rating on this platform. Research has also demonstrated that Google reviews matter as 63% of people used Google in 2020 to find information about a local business. After using Google, these individuals also used other directories like Facebook, Yelp, Better Business Bureau (BBB), and Trip Advisor to also find local businesses' information.
NH Strategic Marketing LLC, a digital marketing agency, built up their positive reviews on their Google Business page to get more website traffic and leads. Their page resulted in 106 visits to their website and eight phone calls within three months. These leads were from new prospective clients who reached out due to their high ratings and positive reviews. Furthermore, NH Strategic Marketing LLC also actively responds to reviews which will also boost SERP ranking.
Analysis of review data can also help you build an in-depth understanding of your consumers, including their motivations, priorities, and daily challenges. Once a business has gathered around 50-100 reviews, it can use thematic or sentiment analysis to better understand what customers say about their products.
Studies show that reviews with 1-3 stars can reveal the shortcomings of a product useful for future business development. Even more, 3-4-star reviews can offer suggestions for new features or products.
As Chubbies worked with Yotpo and Shopifyplus to source more reviews for its products, it gathered various data to discover which prints and fits its real customers wanted. It also used Yotpo to make it easier for customers to search for existing reviews and used their loyalty and rewards program to encourage further word-of-mouth marketing.
After receipt of numerous reviews, Chubbies used Yotpo's analytics service to make sense of the data. In this way, it uses its 11,300 customer reviews to encourage further customer conversations and make product improvements that resonate with their customers. For instance, it received feedback from men who were 6’5'' who said although they loved the brand, the 5.5 inch was too short for them to wear. With this in mind, Chubbies developed the 7-inch short.
Similarly, when analyzing its consumer insights, Pret A Manger noticed a sales increase for healthy vegetarian options. This data suggested that its customers wanted more nutritious foods. With this in mind, Pret A Manger launched its first vegetarian-only pop-up shop in 2016 to give its target audience exactly what it needs. This campaign led to the set-up of a further eleven vegetarian stores by summer 2020. In July 2020, these initial consumer insights also led Pret A Manger to introduce the first vegan-only bakery counter.
After discovering that it was experiencing a high churn rate due to roaming data charges abroad, Three developed a 'Feel at Home' offer to change this. This service let people use their phone abroad at no extra cost. When Three continued monitoring this offer's uptake in 2015, it noticed that people used their phones' data abroad to publish photos of their holidays on social media. Three capitalized on this insight by developing a campaign with the hashtag #holidaybraggie where customers could win a free holiday by sharing their pictures. As a result of the campaign, Three doubled its acquisition and churn saving rates, and got more customers talking about its offer.
By providing an outsider’s perspective on products and services, online product reviews can be a useful word-of-mouth marketing strategy in today's digital world. Reviews can build a trustworthy reputation for a business, boost search engine rankings, drive revenue, and deliver customer-centric product insights. This is because we are social creatures whose purchasing behavior is influenced by the actions of others. Brands who take time to understand the power of social influence from reviews and how this behavior shapes their business will gain an advantage over their competition.
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