5 Reasons Customer Ratings and Reviews Boost Your Sales

B2B and B2C companies at both national and local levels can enjoy the sales-boosting power of customer ratings and reviews. Thanks to popular review sites like Google, Facebook, BBB.org and Angie’s List—not to mention corporate and e-commerce websites featuring customer reviews—people can consider others’ feedback before they buy products and services. And yes, they’re indeed buying.

Consumers are talking about their purchases, from handbags to computer software, from health insurance to golf clubs, from HVAC services to online educational programs. And potential buyers want know what to expect and how to make the most of their investment. Ratings and reviews help facilitate this process—they essentially formalize and digitize traditional (and highly effective) word of mouth marketing.

But as we’ll see, ratings and reviews do more than support the online shopper’s journey. They can add up to more revenue for you. Let’s take a closer look at what makes customer feedback so valuable to your digital marketing and sales strategy:

1. They’re Part of Today’s Online Sales Process
At the most basic level, customer ratings and reviews help shoppers make buying decisions. Providing “social proof,” they’re influential because they reflect other people’s real-life experiences—straight from other buyers, in their own words.

Plus, they flat-out convert people from shopper to buyer—and results can be significant. As demonstrated in the Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center report, How Online Reviews Influence Sales, displaying reviews can increase conversion by an average of 270%–with higher-priced products that require more consideration seeing increases as high as 380%.

2. They Engage Customers Around Your Brand
Driving customer engagement is the modus operandi for building customer relationships (and revenue) today. Companies want their customers to interact with their content—and with each other. And customer-generated content in the form of product and service reviews? Yes! They’re informative, educational, and even have a social component.

Many people are reading and writing reviews—probably both. In doing so, they’re engaging with and around your brand, particularly at the local level:

  • Deloitte’s report, The Growing Power of Consumers, indicates that 81% of people read reviews and check ratings, and customer reviews are the most trusted source of information on products and services, tied with family/friends.
  • In their 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey, BrightLocal discovered that 97% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses and 85% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

3. They Show the Bad and the Ugly—Not Just the Good
Positive reviews strengthen your reputation and directly encourage customers to make a purchase. This is the kind of feedback we’re all aiming for, right? Not necessarily.

While you may think that your potential customers would be turned away by a negative review, take comfort in the fact that they’re not looking for perfection. In fact, the Spiegel Research Center study found that 82% of shoppers specifically seek out negative reviews—and products with an average star rating in the 4.7 – 5.0 range are less likely to be purchased than those in the 4.2 – 4.7 range. Perfect scores can be viewed as “overly positive” and, therefore, not as credible.

Having said this, keep in mind that there tends to be a bias toward negative reviews. People are more likely to speak up when they’re disappointed than when they’re thrilled. Yet you can take these negative reviews opportunities to address concerns and “make things right” with individual customers or through product or service improvements. And that can lead to more positive reviews in the future!

4. They Can Impact SEO
Search engine algorithms contain a mysterious conglomerate of factors that add up to page ranks for your content; the higher your rank, the higher your chance of a searcher visiting your webpage and converting to a customer. Customer reviews are a piece of the puzzle and can help your content rise to the top. According to Search Engine Watch, review signals account for 9.8% of the total ranking factors.

So, reviews can ultimately drive traffic to your website or third-party review sites. That means new customers and new sales. For starters, keywords used by customers in reviews are the same keywords potential customers are using to search for your product or service. Plus, reviews are fresh content: more web pages for the search engines to index and serve up to web searchers.

For more, read How to Improve your Google Rankings.

5. They Help You Understand Your Customers Better
Finally, ratings and reviews are a great tool to help you gauge your success—depending on your goals. It’s ideal marketing intelligence to complement your existing market research work. In general, evaluating this form of customer feedback will help you understand:

  • What’s important to your customers before, during, and after they purchase your product or service
  • Exactly how your offerings perform in the real world
  • What words your customers use when talking about your offerings

Ready to start listening to your customers? Stay tuned for our next post, where we’ll show you how to ask for a customer review and share our best practices for managing the process.

In the meantime, contact us with any questions about incorporating customer ratings and reviews into your marketing and sales strategy.