Acquiring new customers is hard.
Each year 1 in 12 small business owners relinquishes their hope of success and closes the doors of their business for good. The root cause? Over 25% of business owners cite low sales/cash flow as the primary reason for shutting down. It is nearly impossible for new startups and small businesses to survive in a competitive sector where the customer acquisition cost is steadily outpacing the lifetime value of each acquired customer.
In 2019, digital advertising increased by 17.6% and equated to roughly 50% of the global ad market (accounting for approximately $333.25 billion).
While the temptation is to spend more and more money on getting prospective customers in the door, this is usually a recipe for disaster. With rising ad costs, smart businesses are challenging themselves to find organic ways to acquire and retain new customers. With 90% of customers stating that their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews and 72% of those respondents saying that they trust a business more if they read positive reviews, investing time in managing your business's brand authority is more critical today than it has ever been.
Yet, are businesses really focusing on this vital area of their marketing? Considering that a recent survey found that only 36% of small businesses invested in review marketing, it is safe to assume there is a lot of opportunity to focus in on this discipline.
Why do online reviews carry so much authority? Reviews deliver an element of social proof and remove most psychological barriers related to trust of a product or service. When prospective buyers can verify that unbiased shoppers have had a positive experience in the past, they can reasonably conclude that this is indicative of future experiences that they might share with the brand.
There are various online platforms which serve as proof of the benefits of having strong brand authority and great reviews.
Amazon customer reviews
Amazon was one of the pioneering digital storefronts to enable customers to post surveys on purchased items in 1995. Today, it remains as one of the most significant assets for buyers looking to make informed buying choices.
Items are assessed on a five-star rating scale, which is separated by level of surveys per star, trailed by most accommodating customer reviews and latest customer surveys.
Trustpilot is a place where you can proactively increase the authority of your business and gives customers unbiased reviews of previous shopper experiences. While other review platforms focus on specific products, Trustpilot allows users to rank a wide variety of products offered by companies, (both digital and physical) including services.
If you’re planning a vacation, a visit to the TripAdvisor website gives you insider tips on the best places to visit, eat and explore. As the biggest travel site on the planet, TripAdvisor has more than 225 million completed surveys, assessments and photographs contributed by explorers. These raw and unedited reviews make TripAdvisor the perfect trip assistant.
Facebook ratings and reviews
Who doesn’t know about Facebook reviews? In June 2019, Facebook reported a MAU (monthly active users) figure of 2.41 billion. It feels like everyone is using Facebook these days, and the opportunity to engage with businesses and provide reviews while sharing pictures of experiences is greater now than ever before. While primarily a site dedicated to social engagement, Facebook has become a hub for brands to demonstrate their social proof.
Choice has considered itself the leader in academic reviews for over 50 years and offers a completely searchable archive housing nearly 200,000 reviews. This robust index gives librarians and literary enthusiasts the ability to deliver better resources.
These are just a few of the platforms that allow users to provide product and service reviews. Looking into the future, with the proliferation of social media and engagement, the number of options that consumers have when comparing commercial selection is bound to increase.
The advantages of customer reviews
With increased competition amongst companies that are bidding for media placement, the coming years will prove why product and service reviews should play a most crucial role in any business marketing strategy. First, whether good or bad, reviews give your organization a chance to learn and create. Using customer feedback, you can see exactly where your business is falling short in addressing customer issues and remove typical obstacles on the customer journey.
Even negative reviews are not the ultimate kill shot as most would assume. Buyers anticipate that brands should react to surveys and are frequently frustrated when they don’t. Considering this, 63% of customers claim that they have never received a response to their review. Reviews serve a greater purpose than simply allowing consumers to rate a product, service or experience; this form of feedback creates a community where companies and consumers can interact.
While praise is inherently easy to respond to, 53% of customers expect organizations to react to negative reviews within seven days, which demonstrates a level of ownership for a mishap that has taken place and reflects a commitment to better service in the future.
Obtaining ethical reviews
While all business owners may see the benefit of obtaining more customer reviews, the journey to securing an authentic and significant review is difficult. A study conducted by Fakespot, which analyzes customers reviews for unreliability found that 52% of reviews on Walmart.com were "inauthentic" while 30% of Amazon reviews were found to be fake.
Since then both companies have taken appropriate actions to remove all reviews that appear to be fraudulent.
When creating your strategy to obtain authentic and significant reviews, do not fall into the temptation to produce fake reviews for volume; this can have an irreversible, damaging effect on your business and brand image
To acquire consumer reviews ethically ask customers to provide you with an honest review when they purchase your products or after you complete services for a client. While this process may seem tedious and slow-building, there are tools that make this process simple. EnvisionStars is a software app that helps businesses generate authentic consumer reviews with a click of a button. This removes the multiple-step barrier that deters some customers from providing feedback even when they have a great experience with your company.
There are plenty of other tools you can explore to streamline this process, but whatever you do, ensure that asking for reviews and feedback is a part of your daily interaction with your customers. You may also want to assess your company's reputation and analyze what you want to be known for.
What do your customers care about and what are you doing to make noise within your industry? Give people something to talk about and generate a creative edge around your company so that your brand has the creative opportunity to become an unforgettable experience or cause that people rave about and become the voices that accelerate and drive the growth of your brand into the future.