Every single marketer has to be aware of the fact that most shoppers these days look at online reviews before visiting businesses or making purchases. This is especially the case for those that have been taking advantage of online shopping for a long time. You can find reviews about practically anything these days, from Uber to Airbnb and most Amazon products. In the customer’s decision making process the review should be seen as a crucial element. This is why it has to be a pillar of modern online marketing.
Obviously, although relying on reviews is what customers rely on few people are willing to write a review in the first place. That is why it is hard to generate reviews. Companies have to invest in online review monitoring software because you never really know where the reviews appear.
The Fake Review Strategy
Many online marketers and sellers started to rely on incentivizing people to write fake reviews for products. This was done in an attempt to generate a fake quality image for products. It was also a really common strategy used to get the negative reviews to go down in rankings on review sites. This dishonest tactic stopped working as review websites and shoppers started to identify them.
Amazon recently announced the establishing of extra rules because of these incentivized reviews. Most websites that allow reviews announced that they are going to do the same, all in an effort to stop fake reviews from appearing.
At the same time, marketing experts are now figuring out that customer reviews have a huge impact but also have specific limitations. What is interesting is that when the reviews are too good and too many, the brand is actually hurt instead of being helped. On the whole, because of the appearance of the fake reviews, trust becomes difficult to establish even with honest reviews.
Customer Review Psychology
A psychological concept that should be of interest for all marketers is social proof. This describes the way in which people conform to actions of other people, thus leading to what is perceived as a correct behavior. When referring strictly to marketing, social proof is directly connected to social influence in the idea that what others do will affect potential customer action.
A really good example of actionable social proof is word-of-mouth marketing. In fact, all quality online review tactics are connected to this in one way or another. As someone hears great things about a business, there is an increased confidence that the experience will be great when visiting. In a similar way, as there is a really long restaurant wait time, it is seen as social proof that the restaurant in question is great.
The online review is taking social proof to an extreme. Because of sites like Trip Advisor and Amazon consumers end up being able to look at countless reviews so they make a decision. Reviews are highly practical but the real value for the marketer is at a social level. As there are thousands of people that offer a 5 star rating to a service or product, crowdsourced proof about quality becomes tangible.
Online reviews managed to drastically change so many industries, especially travel. Even B2B companies are now affected. We are at the point at which aggregated and anonymous reviews are a lot more powerful than recommendations given by family members and friends.
Legitimate Review Encouragement
Online marketing campaigns now need to take into account the voice of the customer. A brand will naturally want to encourage fans to write opinions that inform and educate other people, especially potential customers. Every single review becomes a pawn in modern content marketing strategy. Authenticity and quality are just as important as everything related to content marketing. This is far more important than a huge number of 5 star reviews that look as if they are contrived or fake.
Businesses can easily get reviews without having to use incentives. For instance, the old-fashioned strategies are still really good. We are talking about asking the customer to write a review. While this is not something that will always work, you still surely get some reviews for your business. Other businesses use gamification strategies like offering prizes when some tasks are performed, like writing a review.
With online marketing we can always utilize reminder emails. There is a pretty good possibility that you already got different emails that asked you to write a review. This is much more effective than what many think and can generate accurate, honest reviews.
Using Reviews As Data
One of the reasons why fake reviews were used in the past was that reviews were not taken into account as a good source of information for businesses. Now, in the modern digital era, the marketers can easily use the real reviews to get information that is going to help improve the product/service offered. This is where the real power of the review lies. A really well-written one can give you insights into customer needs, wishes and thoughts.
Modern businesses have to take reviews into account when developing their overall online marketing strategy. A failure to do this can hurt the image that the business has in the eyes of potential customers. At the same time, you miss out on a wonderful information source that is available to gain honest, true insights into what people actually want from the business. Offering quality should always be a priority for business owners and taking reviews into account helps increase the offered quality.