How online reviews affect your customer journey

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The customer journey, which is the process users go through between realizing they need a product and making a purchase, has changed dramatically in recent years. Product reviews have become more accessible than ever before. As a result, they’ve also become a driving force in sales and marketing.

For context, research shows that 97% of all online shoppers say reviews directly impact their shopping habits.

One of the main reasons reviews are so helpful is they build social proof. Simply put, social proof is evidence that other customers and businesses trust and respect your business. When people see social proof, there’s a good chance they will engage with your brand.

For example, are you more likely to try a new restaurant on your own or after a friend tells you they have the best burgers in town? Most of us would try the restaurant after the recommendation because we have evidence that someone we know and trust enjoyed their food.

The big difference between this example and the internet is people get a chance to hear what strangers think of a product or service, which, as it turns out, can be just as effective as a recommendation from a friend!

How Do User Reviews Impact the Average User Journey?

As we will soon see, user reviews can have a massive impact on every aspect of your brand awareness and sales strategies. If you’d like an eye-opening example illustrating this point, consider how different the eCommerce giant Amazon would be if customers couldn’t see product reviews.

Users wouldn’t know who to trust, and there’s a good chance it wouldn’t be as successful as it is today.

Reviews are essential for building trust with first-time visitors. When someone makes it to your website for the first time, they often wonder what others think about your company. You can take out the guesswork by showing testimonials written by high-profile clients and normal customers.

Here’s an example from the CrowdFire website:

If you had just discovered CrowdFire, these reviews may cause you to lean in and learn more.

Highlighting reviews at the right time can make it easier for new people to find you through Google while simultaneously increasing sales and trust.

Today, we will explore several key points where online reviews affect your customer journey. We aim to show you how showing a few reviews or testimonials from real users can help you boost conversions and engagement.

1. Boost Discoverability

First, let’s talk about how including user reviews on your website can improve your search position. It’s interesting to think about, but consistently adding testimonials and reviews can help drive your website through the search engine results pages (SERPS).

There are a few ways this can happen. For one thing, reviews are considered fresh content in the eyes of Google’s crawlers. When you add new user-generated content to a page, the bot will notice the addition the next time it crawls your site.

If you choose reviews that feature relevant long-tail keywords and context that will matter to your target audience, you can easily see more organic traffic.

When adding reviews to your site, it’s a good idea to add them to a product review schema. Schemas are frameworks in the background of a website that give Google additional information. Using a review schema will allow Google to show product reviews alongside your website in the search results.

Here’s how a website using product review schema looks in the search results:

If you’re on the fence about buying a product and using Google for research (53% of people do!), then this one small addition could result in you clicking through and becoming a customer. The same principle applies to your customers.

Growing organic traffic is one of the hardest parts of running a new business. Adding reviews to your website can mitigate some of this struggle and boost your discoverability while creating a better experience for your audience.

2. Set Expectations and Manage Concerns

The problem with buying something from a company with zero reviews is you don’t know what to expect. Some of us may feel daring and place an order regardless of visible reviews. But the reality is most people will not bother purchasing a product from a website if they can’t see customer opinions.

One reason for this trend is that people want to understand the typical experience with your product so they can set expectations and manage concerns.

For example, if you’re considering buying a new pair of shoes, you might check the reviews to see if people say the sizes run big or small. You can use this information to make a more informed decision when placing an order.

We’ve found that a whopping 96% of people look for negative reviews. This trend is likely tied to the idea that shoppers want to manage concerns and understand the worst-case scenario before they pull out their debit cards.

Your product page reviews will ideally have many different opinions and case-use scenarios, so users can easily anticipate what will happen when their purchase arrives.

3. Directly Impact Purchasing Decisions

We’ve alluded to this next tip a few times, but it’s worth mentioning; showing reviews on your website and social media accounts can directly impact purchasing decisions.

When people shop for anything from tech products to plant seeds, they look at reviews. If you’re anything like us, you’ve left a site without reviews so that you can find feedback elsewhere.

This practice isn’t uncommon, but it does come with two serious downsides. First, you’re losing control of the situation and hoping they find someone else who said something nice about your brand. The second problem is that they could get distracted while browsing and forget to return to your website.

Neither of these situations is ideal, so it’s important to have reviews in place so visitors can get to know your products without leaving your site.

I recommend including reviews in frequently-visited places like your homepage, product landing pages, social media accounts, and on your sidebar. Showing one of two real user reviews in these places can dramatically boost trust and engagement.

4. Improve Social Media Engagement

User reviews are a great way to get more social media interactions and boost brand awareness. Over 4.74 billion people use sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to engage with friends and, yes, businesses.

You can safely assume your target audience is on these and waiting to find your brand. It’s easier to get the word out if other people are out there and saying positive things about your company.

I recommend using a social listening tool so you can track brand mentions. When you see that someone has said something positive about your company or products, you can thank them and share their post.

Here’s what this practice looks like via Starbucks:

Another way to get more positive reviews on social media is to work with affiliates and influencers. We’ve found that 65% of all affiliate marketers use social media to connect with their customers.

If you don’t have an affiliate marketing program, it may be time to connect with people who are passionate about your product and would gladly promote you to their audience.

People tend to trust influencers and other content creators across different industries. If a well-known, respected creator posts a positive review of your brand, you can expect a surge in organic traffic and engagement.

5. Fine-Tune Products Through Feedback

You can use reviews to fine-tune your products or services. Customers are usually more than happy to share their opinions, whether good or bad. Instead of only looking for the best feedback, take time to consider the mediocre and flat-out negative reviews.

If you’re willing to keep an open mind, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to streamline the journey for future customers.

For example, if a software company sees that over half of its audience needs a specific feature, the team can get to work and plan to implement the change in a future update.

You should keep an eye on your reviews for growth opportunities fairly often. I recommend looking through recent feedback at the end of each week so you can identify emerging patterns and start working on fixes.

6. How to Get More Customer Reviews

Now that you know how user feedback and social proof can help you grow across all marketing platforms, let’s look at a few effective ways to gather reviews from your audience.

  • Add review forms to your product pages
  • Send follow-up emails to new customers and encourage them to share their thoughts
  • Use social media to ask customers to share their opinions
  • Add a suggestions/comments form to your contact page
  • Create accounts on review platforms like Yelp, Google My Business, Angi, and GlassDoor

These various strategies will help you get reviews from different customer segments. More data means more opportunities to create better products, services, and marketing in the future. Once the reviews are ready, pair them with a professional logo design and branding assets, plus authentic content, and this will definitely build more trust in your brand.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, reviews are vital to your long-term success and creating a memorable customer journey. The tips and strategies outlined today will help you gather and strategically place reviews. The result is you’ll have an easier time building trust with your audience and creating the best experience possible for future visitors.

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