You know that customer reviews matter in some capacity, but how much do they matter and why? For content marketers, search performance is king, but do customer reviews really have much influence? The fact is that yes, they certainly do. Google itself confirms that positive, credible customer reviews lead to both enhanced visibility and higher conversion rates. To better understand what customer reviews mean to your business, it’s important to distinguish between the objective and subjective responses your potential customers encounter during their search queries.
When a potential customer goes online to inquire about a business, they encounter objective information that you generally control. You are the master of your own marketing content, and no one is better qualified for the position. Objective information generally includes information about:
- The products and/or services that you offer
- Your company’s history
- Your team
- Contact information
While this represents the nuts and bolts of your business, there’s so much more to it than that.
You get to tell your own story with your unique voice, tone, style, and storytelling skills. Online marketing is, in many ways, more immediate than any other kind, and you have plenty of objective information to impart. When potential customers seek out this information, they exhibit an intent to transact, which is naturally critical to growing your business.
Controlling your message is essential to branding, and branding is essential to harnessing your market share. Effective digital marketing means honing inviting and compelling content that accurately reflects your business. When it comes to the objective responses your potential customers encounter, you hold the reins.
Not every response to every inquiry, however, leads to objective information. Sometimes, Google searchers seek the opinions of others, and sometimes, they simply stumble upon them. Either way, these subjective responses play an important role. Subjective responses to your potential customers’ searches can come in the form of online reviews, recommendations, and mentions.
The fact is that more people are looking for subjective guidance when it comes to pulling the trigger on any given transaction. This is reflected in the significant increase in searches that include “should I.” When a user types in should I do x, y, or z, they’re far more likely to land on customer reviews.
Managing Your Reputation
When it comes to online reviews, the control is out of your hands – somewhat. Many review sites have restrictions in place to help keep the content as objective as possible. Your customers are going to post the reviews that they are going to post – for anyone online to read. You do, nevertheless, have the power to incorporate effective reputation management in all that you do. This obviously includes running the tightest ship that you can, which naturally includes stellar customer service and relations.
Those online reviews are more than just guideposts for potential customers, as they also have something important to teach you. Monitoring, evaluating, and trying to understand the reviewer’s perspective can all help you tap into what you should be offering. Yes, sometimes, a customer simply has a bone to pick or an irrational grudge, but listening to any and all feedback is in your best interest.
When it comes to online reviews, staying proactive is the name of the game. This includes:
- Mining everything that’s out there – across all social media platforms and beyond
- Listening to what your customers are telling you – they are letting you know how to optimize customer experience, and it’s coming straight from the most valuable source
- Interacting with your reviewers in an authentic way – they have gone to the trouble of leaving a review, so take the time to respond sincerely
- Putting the information you gather to work for you – allow this feedback to inform your decisions moving forward
- Encouraging further reviews – because not only do they keep the dialogue open but they also provide you with valuable instruction that is difficult to duplicate
Your business’s online reviews and ratings are brand-building and play a pivotal role in whether business is being guided your way. These reviews, however, also help determine whether or not you rank in searches in the first place. Google and other search engines often pre-filter search results for entries that contain superlatives like best and most – or with minimum ratings of so-many stars from reviewers. Working with a seasoned and focused digital marketing team can help ensure that you stay competitive in your market.
Keeping Up with the Algorithm
Google’s September 2019 algorithm update was much anticipated, and the search giant did not fail to deliver. One outcome is that a new algorithm has been implemented as part of the indexing process for review snippets that affects how these snippets are showcased. The update’s major focus is curbing reviews that are self-generated and self-serving. Moving forward, when a review includes markup code and third-party widgets that obscure the sender, it will no longer be supported by Google.
This makes gaming the system less doable, but it also means that customer reviews are much more likely to provide feedback that is useful to you. In other words, keep your focus where it should be – on building the best customer experience you can with an eye toward solid reputation management that’s guided by a thoughtful review response strategy.
Let’s Review Your Customer Reviews Together
You no doubt understand that customer reviews matter, but you might not have any idea what – if any – actions you should be taking. The best way to think about customer reviews is to consider them an opportunity – an opportunity to mine valuable information that can better inform your business decisions and enhance the customer experience you offer. The fearless digital team at The Web Guys has been helping clients like you optimize online presence via dynamic strategizing since 2005, and we’d be proud to use our digital expertise for the benefit of your business. To learn more about us and our services, contact us at 317-805-4933 today!