Social proof is one of the most powerful tools you can use to market your business. Seeing the happiness and success of previous customers is a proven way to increase confidence, which ultimately leads to more people buying.
According to eMarketer research, online reviews are by far the most trusted source of business information. In fact, 8 percent more people 18+ trust online reviews compared to their own friends, family and colleagues.
But most businesses don’t have a proactive strategy for incorporating customer reviews in their marketing plan. If you’re one of them, we want to encourage you to change that!
Your business can add credibility and complexity to its content when you regularly incorporate the positive feedback your customers leave. This practice has an added bonus of rewarding customers for their praise, strengthening your relationship with them and encouraging others to follow in their footsteps.
Your content becomes richer, and your brand name becomes more credible. That’s a win for you and your customers!
Here are a handful of proven strategies you can put into action to incorporate customer reviews into your marketing strategy:
When incorporating testimonials and feedback on your web pages, it’s important to follow best practices that respect both the person leaving the review and the prospect that will ultimately see it in your marketing. Be sure to use the following best practices to share like a pro:
● Take a second to re-read the third-party reviews site’s policy on sharing reviews. They may have limitations on how you use them.
● Always ask the reviewer for permission. Nothing hurts worse than having someone who praised your business turn around and complain that their own words were used unethically.
● Don’t take things out of context. Using an excerpt of a review is fine, but don’t cherry-pick statements that are actually out of color for the nature of the review as a whole. For instance, don’t take just the positive things someone conceded out a scathingly negative review.
● Quote the person verbatim. Changing words around or using tricks like mashing two unrelated things together to make a sentence is absolutely deceptive and unethical. You may even be subject to FTC penalties.
● Favor embedded reviews over text quotes. Most third-party sites actually demand that you use embedded features since these are more transparent. When you receive direct feedback, such as on a blog comment, try to embed the message itself when possible.
Businesses have a huge trust gap they must clear when a potential customer or client first arrives at their website. Peppering your site – and any sales pages or landing pages where you expect a conversion to happen, in particular – it’s one of the best ways to bridge that gap.
No matter how comforting or flashy the site is, customers are always on the lookout for signs that they could get burned. They may scrutinize your claims or look for fine print that reveals how your offers aren’t what they seem.
Oftentimes, they will look to outside resources before they can let down their guard. A study by Nielsen and the Better Business Bureau unveiled that over half (55 percent) of all U.S. adults online “always” or “often” used ratings and reviews to inform their purchase decisions. The trend deepens among those under 55, where only 7.5 percent of people say they “rarely” or “never” look at reviews.
Incorporating reviews right there on your web page immediately begins to chip away at their defenses.
You also potentially negate their need to go hunting for outside information on your brand. If they already see positive reviews or a live meter documenting your score aggregate for a site like Yelp, then they don’t need to go wading into all of the other reviews online. By extension, they are much less likely to encounter negative reviews that color your business in an unfavorable light.
Getting people to leave reviews is hard work! Unless, of course, they had a bad experience. According to one study of 2,000 U.S. consumers, over half of people say they’re likely to publicly complain about a bad experience with a business—often resulting in a bad review.
A second study found that most people only leave a positive review if they were overwhelmed with how great their experience was. “If instead you had a moderate view, you’re likely to have left no review at all, finding it not worth the time and effort,” say the researchers in the Harvard Business Review.
So how do you encourage people to leave a review if they aren’t angry with you and they weren’t absolutely blown away?
Simple: reward them with a public mention!
By sharing someone’s positive review online, you reinforce the behavior. You also encourage others who want public recognition and attention to leave reviews of their own.
You can take this to the next level by promoting the favorable reviews you posted as social media posts with paid ads in your retargeting campaigns, ensuring maximum exposure when you need it the most.
Set up ad campaigns that retarget visitors at the key conversion points in your sales process and choose carefully selected customer reviews to increase their confidence and encourage them to take action.
Content should solve audience needs and conclude with a gentle promotional nudge towards your company. Treading this narrow path between information and promotion is admittedly difficult for most businesses.
So how can you incorporate a ‘pitch’ for your products and services without making your content feel like one big sales letter?
Strategically incorporate happy customer reviews, of course!
Take a look at this review below to see what we mean.
Here, you can see that the person cites six different positive reasons they love coming to the resort; it was clean, pet-friendly, had great cabins, lots of site availability, a swimming beach and also a swimming pool.
Taking that list, you can simply write an article about the “6 Most Important Things to Look for in a Camping Resort.” Since you know people enjoy these things about your business, you can mention them honestly.
But you don’t have to create content around the content found in the review…simply adding happy customer reviews once or twice in any blog post is a great way to introduce that you have something to sell and that people are happy with it!
One way to make your customer reviews have even more impact is to capture them on video. Unfortunately, shooting a video for you was not on your customer’s list of priorities when they woke up this morning, so you need to make it as easy on them as possible.
Use one of the really slick tools available specifically for this purpose, like boast.io.
Boast, and a number of their competitors, have made it as easy as possible to request, collect, manage and display video testimonials from your customers.
They even have integrations with your other marketing tools and social media platforms, which makes it easy to share them.
All of the strategies listed above depend on a constant, fresh stream of customer feedback. If your most recent review was from 2014, you may have a problem!
To counteract this issue, make leaving a review as easy as possible.
If you’re doing business online, create an automated process to ask customers for their review so that it happens consistently.
If you are in a retail business, train your team to ask for reviews as they finish serving your customers.
With just a small amount of effort, your content quality and credibility can be dramatically improved by using customer reviews in clever ways. Customers’ trust absolutely thrives on documented proof, and they like to see that their words matter when they have something to say.
Commit to using reviews strategically in your marketing and watch your sales soar!
Meta: How to improve your content quality and your brand credibility by incorporating customer reviews in your marketing.
KWs: content marketing