72% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a business more.
Real-world reviews along with corresponding stories, ideally with names and faces, provide social proof to help grow trust in your brand. Negative reviews, conversely, can quickly kill a sale. While reviews will never make someone buy (that’s up to your offer, headline, price, etc.), it can reassure someone thinking of buying, and that’s where the money comes in – “Conversion Rate Optimization” (“CRO” in the industry). If you have just 1,000 visitors a month of whom only 2% buy from you, but you add reviews and lift that to just 4% per month – you’ve just doubled your sales / leads / revenue. How much will reviews help your website? That’s impossible to broadly say, because what you’re really asking is how much is trust a factor in the conversion of your website – for low-end, impulse-buy items trust will be less of a factor from, say, being a real estate agent signing a listing, where the seller / listing is considering you vs. 2 other agents where it will be higher. B2B services like accounting or staffing require a higher degree of trust than selling commodities.
2. Unhappy customers are 800% – 8x – more likely to share online than happy customers.
This is partially due to “normalcy bias” – we buy something and expect it’ll turn out just fine, and most of the time indeed it is. We smile, say thanks, go about our lives and forget about it.
This of course creates a potentially massive problem, in that one’s online reputation may reflect only the tiny percentage of people who are not happy.
In every business, if you work with enough people, you will eventually find some people who just cannot be pleased – maybe the cat bit them, maybe they’re mad about something totally unrelated to you, maybe they’re not even real customers, but are competitors trying to sink your rankings. It happens. The best medicine is to “firewall” your brand with hundreds of good reviews, so that if someone does come through, they’re lost in an overwhelming sea.
Speaking of aquatic metaphors, one key way of controlling your reputation is “flooding” page one of google (or Bing), so if they search for your brand, they see a whole page of online properties (i.e. your website, then your map listing, then your facebook page, your twitter page, reviews about you, off-site blogs, other people talking about you in a good light… etc.) – so that any complaints that do come up ideally don’t crack the first page.
3. 88% of shoppers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Think about your own shopping habits: you read between the lines, read bad reviews and see if you think they’re just cranky or if you see a pattern, and the variety of stories and writing style give you an overall picture. Subconsciously, you notice details like posting dates, whether the photos look like stock photos vs. real people (imperfect and not staged looking). All of these together form a semblance of trust, that you’ll get the benefits you seek from this provider.
Can you just write these reviews yourself? First, you’ll probably run afoul of the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), second, it’s pretty unethical, third, it’s likely to not resonate as true. Real-world reviews are a bit all over the map in terms of writing style, posting dates, photos, etc. – and a lot of reviews from real customers is far superior to a curated handful you drummed up yourself.
Furthermore, you want the real-world feedback from your customers!