The Importance of Reviews


How important are reviews?

Spoiler alert!  Extremely important!

You already know that, with your customer hat on! You would agree that reviews are truly useful when you’re a shopper. But have you put your entrepreneur’s hat on, and thought through all the pluses, the outright benefits, for your ecommerce business?

As a customer, when you go to make an online purchase, what’s the first thing you do? In the “since COVID” world, with zooming and booming ecommerce where customers can’t physically experience products or services before purchasing, many if not most consumers turn to online product reviews. People like to know what real people are saying about a product or service, rather than just trust the description or the advertising.  In fact, many consumers do this same research even if they’re going to go into bricks and mortar stores to shop around.

Specific review sites such as Yelp! Trustpilot, and Google reviews have been around for a fair while now, and the various social media platforms have become the go-to places for many browsers seeking information, a rating or review about anything. Answers are always only a few taps or clicks away.

An abundance of reviews is really quite powerful now in terms of shaping how businesses are perceived online. For any business that exists in the digital space, online reviews are a critically important word of mouth marketing strategy, which can

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Increase conversion rates, drive sales
  • Build trust
  • Assist SEO endeavours
  • Enhance reputation

Merchant reputation

In previous Webyroo posts, we’ve spoken about the things that increase the chances of sales conversion on your e-commerce site. This includes customer convenience, incorporating more than one shipping option at your store’s checkout, and having a clear “effortless returns” policy. Soon we’ll be posting a blog article about the huge value of offering secure and recognisable payment gateways. All strategies which help build trust for consumers.

Customer reviews fit into the same category in terms of enhancing trust and increasing your sales conversions – they’re a very important aspect of your e-commerce business! Bad reviews can hurt your business. No matter if the review is about one of your products, your business overall, or an aspect of your business (eg after-sales service), reputation is everything.

And the bottom line seems to be – buyers trust the reviews they read online, within certain parameters.

Who or what influences consumers?

Consumer reviews started out on Google Local, Yelp, Yahoo, Tripadvisor, and some other sites. Now there is a much wider choice, and you can integrate reviews onto your own business website or social media profiles. They are available everywhere you go on the web.

No matter where your customers choose to leave their reviews, they will work in your favour. It’s worth your while to incorporate reviews into your product pages and encourage buyers to leave reviews. Make it easy for them. Reviews create unique content for your online store and the best part – it’s free! It will pay dividends!

Consider including a star-rating system. Shopify refers to some US consumer research from December 2020 by Brightlocal, revealing many key statistics, including this interesting one:

Customers rated the most important review factors as: 1) Star rating, 2) Legitimacy, 3) Recency, 4) Sentiment, 5) Quantity

Customers also see information being shared or products being used or mentioned online by Influencers who spruik products simply because they want to, or because they’re being paid to. Business Insider Australia, in a post last year wrote that (paid) Influencers are more effective than people realise. They say that while influencer marketing is still used by only a small number of Australian small and medium businesses, the majority of those who do, are satisfied. On the consumer side, nearly two-thirds of Australians surveyed said they were less likely to buy from a brand if they noticed influencers or celebrities promoting the products. However – apparently – only about a quarter of these respondents notice when influencers do sponsored posts.

Are negative reviews bad?

Not necessarily! Whilst a lot of negative reviews, or “un-addressed” negative reviews can be bad for your reputation, seemingly more than two-thirds of consumers trust reviews more when there are a mix of negatives and positives. An overwhelming 95% suspect censorship or faked reviews if there aren’t any negative ones.

Negative reviews from the merchant perspective can be viewed as an opportunity to receive genuine feedback from customers that could feed into the continuous improvement of your business. Much research shows that it’s important to respond to negative reviews quickly and try to resolve the matter to the satisfaction of the customer – you might even end up with a life-long customer rather than a disgruntled one spreading a negative review.

Fake reviews

Unfortunately, fake reviews are a real thing, and estimates of the percentage that are fake, vary. Businesses and review platforms that do not remove reviews that they know to be fake, risk breaching the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.  Visit Australia’s ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) web page Managing online reviews  for more helpful information.

Stricter rules were introduced to the Australian Association of National Advertisers’ code of ethics in February this year, reinforcing the need for  social media figures who promote products or services to be upfront about any commercial arrangements.  Paid/sponsored social media posts must disclose an advertisement by adding a hashtag like #Ad or the words “paid partnership”.

Finally – reviews are essential tools of business. It makes good commercial sense to welcome all types of reviews, respond to them, and make good use of some of the unique content you’ll get.

Please feel free to contact us about any aspect of managing your digital presence.  Webyroo will help you. Click here to book a call now, or check out how we help small to medium businesses in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7pd7UvANJs.

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