Last updated: Why do you really need customer reviews?

Why do you really need customer reviews?


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When you want to find a new restaurant for dinner, you probably check Yelp. For a hotel, you might look at reviews on TripAdvisor. In businesses, yelpification, the process of establishing review communities, fills a need for trustworthy peer information. This information serves to validate buyers’ decisions and demonstrates how a product works in real-life situations.

In fact, 40 percent of consumers just plain expect to see reviews when looking for products and businesses according to Yodle Insights. Businesses recognize that consumers want this information; however, the full scope of benefits provided by reviews is much more expansive than many marketers think.

According to Influitive, leads referred by happy customers convert at five times the rate of those B2B marketers add to their databases. In one study by Bazaarvoice, apparel retailer experienced a 35 percent higher conversion rate when products had reviews. They found that a product with 20 or more reviews experienced an 84 percent higher conversion rate than products without reviews. This stunning increase shows the extent of consumer reliance on social approval in the buying process.

As social media expands, buyers are looking increasingly to their professional networks to understand what products are reliable. When peer opinions are such an important part of the purchasing process, more reviews means more buyers.

The feedback from reviews also provides businesses an important leg up in demonstrating both what consumers are happy with and what can be improved to attract more users. Engaging with a reviewer additionally shows an interest in the customer’s opinions, which promotes brand loyalty and helps you get involved in discussions about your company.

These discussions can help to identify possible customer advocates and provide an opportunity for professionals to bond around your product, while helping users gain a better understanding of the features.

Similarly, as businesses put a greater focus on content marketing, reviews act as an independent channel for conversation that can promote your brand at no cost. These exchanges of views support search engine optimization efforts and can expose you to a broader audience. For example, one software company in the business intelligence market reported a 24 percent increase in organic traffic once its reviews started appearing on IT Central Station.

Reviews additionally promote trust. According to CMO Council research, 40 percent of B2B content seekers cite product reviews as the most valuable and trusted type of content. IDC also showed in 2014 that peer networks provide greater confidence in a vendor’s expertise.

With so much material on the web, reviews can cut through marketing hype in order to demonstrate the benefits that real users have experienced. When a peer says a product is great, professionals tend to trust the opinion; however, if a vendor says their product is great, users are going to take this view with a grain of salt. In this way, reviews boost purchasing confidence by allowing potential buyers insight into how the product acts similar situations and by confirming marketing content.

Businesses are sometimes unsure of the advantages of reviews and review communities; however, they are important in order for a brand to promote trust, establish real conversations, learn from feedback, and experience the benefits of social buying.

Reviews help keep buyers informed in order to make the best purchasing decisions possible, but also provide unexpected rewards to the companies themselves.

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Editor’s Note: Russell Rothstein is the founder and CEO of IT Central Station, a crowdsourced review platform for technology professionals to research and compare products and services. IT Central Station is a 100% trusted, validated site, in which all reviewers are verified through a triple authentication process including LinkedIn profile validation, and QA checks.

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