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Online Reviews – Even the Bad Ones Are Good for Brands

  |  July 30, 2014   |  Comments

For all its convenience, online shopping comes with one major drawback: uncertainty. The consumer’s inability to try on an item or sit on a couch can mean the difference between completing a transaction and abandoning the shopping chart.

The benefits of online reviews to a customer are obvious: learning from others' mistakes and allowing consumers to make educated buying decisions. But no less important is how businesses can benefit from online reviews.

Understandably, many businesses fear the negative review. But in truth, both negative and positive consumer feedback can help businesses. Encouraging feedback improves a brand's reputation for excellent customer support, which then results in increased return on investment (ROI), more conversions, higher click-through rates, and lowers shopping cart abandonment. Here are four ways online reviews can help businesses succeed.

1. Build Trust

Building a strong reputation online for excellent customer service can be hard compared to the personal in-store interaction, but reviews can help. Seventy-two percent of customers trust online reviews, which means companies that use them appear more credible and open to customer feedback. Additionally, reviews can humanize brands - through direct communication thus creating strong relationships. That, in turn, leads to better customer retention, conversion rates, and happier customers overall.

2. Use Criticism to Improve Operations

Despite the initial sting of a negative review, customer complaints can be more valuable than praise because they give companies true insight as to how they're doing. When a business has honest feedback, straight from the consumer, it can course correct, address the issue, appear open to suggestions, and come out stronger.

Further, research has shown that 68 percent of customers trust online reviews more when they see a mix of negative and positive sentiments. Brands even have the opportunity to turn a complainer into a repeat customer: 95 percent of customers return if an issue is resolved quickly and efficiently.

3. Prioritize Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Though they seem hard to measure, the benefits of word-of-mouth marketing are very real. A/B split testing shows that businesses that implement review systems can see sales grow by as much as 58 percent. Customers are also more likely to view a company as trustworthy if it has a large number of customer reviews - which encourages repeat purchases. Asking for feedback builds a brand's profile almost immediately.

4. Improve Click-Through Rates

Online reviews can be advantageous when using search to bring in traffic. Google estimates that companies with review-based ratings experience a 17 percent rise in click-through rates, compared to those without ratings. That applies to Google-approved third-party review websites as well as social media reviews. In fact, social media is arguably more important than review sites in this area; Sociable Labs found that 75 percent of people have clicked through to a retailer's website after seeing commentary on a social media site.

What this means is it's time for brands to stop fearing online reviews and start understanding the power of honest customer feedback. Online reviews make customers feel appreciated and heard. Businesses see tangible, noticeable differences in ROI, revenue, customer retention, and click-through rates. If your business hasn't done so yet, the time is now.

* Sponsored content in collaboration with Trustpilot.

Image via Shutterstock.

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