Today’s consumers are laser-focused on finding the best possible deal. One of the first things people do when they start shopping for products or services is to hit the internet and check out the reviews on Amazon, Yelp, Google or Facebook. This so-called “social proof” is the digital era’s method of asking a neighbor for a recommendation. Unfortunately, these recommendations can be either positive or negative — and it can be tough to control which way your customers lean when they’re leaving a review for your business. If there are only a few reviews on a popular ratings site and several of them are negative, your sales will almost certainly be impacted, and not in a good way! Don’t let a few sour grapes ruin your positive reputation online.
Let’s face it, people are sheep. When you see a group of people crowding to a new venue, you immediately think “Oooh, this [whatever] is cool — all my friends are checking it out! I must go/do it /be seen there, too!” This need to follow the crowd manifests as social proof and it can be a marketer’s best friend. Think of social proof as a way to create word-of-mouth buzz that can be massive in scale, and add a great deal of oomph to your street cred. Whether your brand invests in celebrity bloggers, professional Instagrammers or credible experts, these tactics can get you massive engagement and speed sales volume significantly.
Personal Recommendations to Online Reviews
In the good ol’ days, a personal recommendation from friends and family was gold, and you would be crazy to try something that your close circle didn’t endorse. With the growth of local communities into big cities, it’s no longer possible to find out about a business before you use their services — or is it? The online community is great at sharing their thoughts and ideas about a variety of different topics, goods and services. These verified reviews on the web are a way of “trying before you buy” and reducing the risk of the unknown. This is especially important for large purchases that have a long-term impact, such as home builders, vehicles and banks. Even consumers goods are open to endorsements on the majority of shopping sites, including mega-retailers Amazon.com, Walmart and Target. This helps potential buyers see whether items are received well-packaged, in good working order and of a good quality.
Verified is Better
While older Americans may be more likely to head to a Consumer Reports magazine or try to speak with someone in their circle who can offer their recommendation, Millennials in particular are focused on verified web-based reviews. The important word here is “verified”, as this demographic realizes how easy it is to fake a review on a retailer’s website. While reviews on third-party websites can also be spoofed, it’s more difficult as some buyers are verified by the retailer before they’re allowed to make comments on a particular product or service.
Managing Your Reputation
It doesn’t take rocket scientists or even marketing ninjas to help improve your online reputation. Simply bury the few customers who weren’t thrilled with your service or offering (there’s always a few — no matter how amazing you are) in a deluge of fabulous reviews from satisfied customers. Sounds simple, right?!? It does take rigor on the part of yourself and your team to ask for review every single time, and possibly even some incentives to customers to leave you a great review in a public place. Use this marketing gold in various places on your website. When others see how much your product is being enjoyed by others, prospects are much more likely to hand you some cash. Or crypto. Or whatever.