With more and more people shopping online, especially after last year, there is an increased demand for trust and authenticity in the marketplace. Buyers want to know who and where their purchases are coming from, and they want to know that the items or services they are purchasing are of high quality.
When you’re shopping online, what do you look for to establish trust in the seller? If you’re deciding between two similarly priced products, what is usually the determining factor in which one you choose?
For most people, the answer is reviews.
Whether they know it or not, while looking at reviews, customers are looking for social proof.
So, what is social proof?
Social proof is the concept that people will follow the lead of others. If all your friends buy and enjoy a product, chances are you will want to buy it as well.
Think of two similar products, listed back to back on Amazon. If one product has an overwhelming majority of the reviews, you’d be more likely to choose that product, even if it cost slightly more. Seeing so many people purchase that product and review it well triggers your brain to think it’s the “correct” decision or behavior.
In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini states that,
we view behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it.
When we see our friends, family, celebrities, or trusted experts endorsing or using a product, it’s more likely that we will want to as well.
And when consumers can’t find that endorsement, they will look for other means of trust. Today, nearly 93 percent of consumers say that online reviews informed their purchase decisions. A highly regarded product or service is even worth more to consumers, as people will spend, on average, 31 percent more at a business with excellent reviews.
Google likes social proof, too!
It makes sense when you think about it. In order for Google to deliver their best product, their algorithm needs to reward and recommend the businesses that are generating the most reviews. In order for people to trust their recommendations, and for them to keep relying on Google for search, these recommendations need to be the best businesses, filtered to the top by their reviews.
These recommendations will appear when you’re in Google Maps or searching on Google for a local business. The best part about it is that the process feeds into itself. If you rank highly because of your positive reviews, your business is more likely to be shown in search, which will lead to more customers and reviews.
According to Moz, online customer reviews gain more weight in organic local searches. In localized organic ranking factors (aka local business search), review signals as a category make up 6.47 percent of the overall rank. This includes such metrics as review quantity, review velocity, and review diversity.
By the same token, negative reviews will generate a negative effect on search. “Negative sentiment in Google Reviews” is one of their negative rank factors.
How to generate social proof through your reviews
The hardest part of building up your social proof is getting the customers and reviews in the first place. As long as you are delivering a quality product, outstanding customer experiences and reviews should follow.
How do I get reviews?
Well, first off: are you asking for them?
If you are having trouble generating reviews from your transactions, the simplest fix might be the perfect answer: just ask for them!
As with all things, there are some people who won’t be inclined to give reviews, but there are countless more who want to share their experience and support small and large businesses however they can, but just need a little nudge. You still may not get the reviews in quite the numbers you are looking for, but by asking for them, you will, assuredly, start getting more of them.
Engaging with your reviews
Once you know how to generate positive customer reviews, they should continue to flow in without too much effort on your end.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done! Those reviews cannot go ignored, as that’s a bad look for the business. People want to know that someone is listening to them. They may try to dramatize their reviews to stand out, but even if some details are a little exaggerated, it’s still important to respond.
First of all, when a customer is happy with your service and leaves a positive review, you should thank them, both for coming in and for leaving their review. Be thoughtful in your responses, and be sure not to send the same boilerplate response back to everyone. You can have templates, but alter the message and be sure to personalize it for every customer.
Dealing with negative reviews
Of course, if the whole job entailed receiving and responding to only positive reviews, it wouldn’t be so bad. But you will get negative reviews, and yes, you do have to respond to them, too. If we’re being honest, how you respond to them is even more important than how you respond to the positive reviews.
There are plenty of guides online that will go into greater detail about how you might respond, and that can provide templates for you to get started. Above all, you want to come off as genuine and apologetic. Be sure to address the complaints of the customer, and give them avenues to contact you for further discussion.
By responding, even when it’s hard, you are showing a level of care and service for one individual customer that is then re-broadcast to the network of potential customers that may see that review. As we discussed in our article about using social media as a means to start a conversation, it’s important to show the human side of the business. To own your misses, and to reconcile and come to an agreement with customers that may have complaints is a great way to do this. And if you go to great lengths to truly help those individuals, you might be rewarded.
How do I manage all of these reviews?
There are a lot of places online where reviews can be submitted. BBB.org is one such place, but there are many more, including Google, Yelp, and Facebook. It can be very difficult to stay on top of all of your reviews, and there may even be some existing ones that you’ve never seen!
It’s easy to feel a little bit overwhelmed by that. But THRIVe is here to help!
THRIVe is an easy-to-use marketing tool that helps your business grow. Whether you are looking for ways to manage your online presence and reputation through reviews, automate your social media, or simply track your website’s analytics, THRIVe is an all-in-one marketing solution that can help you get there.
To get more information on THRIVe, simply head over to our website HERE. Be sure to use the chat feature to get all of the answers you need to make this year your best yet.