Online reviews aren’t just for Amazon products and restaurants anymore. No matter what industry you’re in, you may have already realized just how important it has become to increase online reviews as part of your sales and marketing strategy. Adding digital rewards to that strategy helps you ensure that prospective customers are seeing your business in the right light.
The importance of online reviews can’t be overstated. In 2021, 91% of customers said they read reviews before deciding to purchase a product or service, according to Bizrate Insights. And nearly a third said a high review score or rating is the biggest influence in their purchase decision. The impact extends even to B2B buyers, 90% of whom said they are more likely to make their decision after reading a trusted review, according to a survey from G2 and Heinz Marketing.
The problem is that bad ratings can damage your company’s reputation and hurt sales. While having a few less-than-stellar reviews has been shown to add credibility, experts say that it takes as many as 40 positive customer experiences to compensate for just one negative review.
The key is to make sure there’s a balanced representation across the satisfaction spectrum. Therein lies the challenge, since unhappy customers are more likely to write online reviews — the so-called “squeaky-wheel syndrome.” They can end up skewing your overall rating until it no longer accurately reflects your business, product, or service — or what you want prospects to see.
Using digital incentives to increase online reviews can help you collect that all-important feedback from more customers, most of whom (hopefully!) had a great experience with your brand. But you must be proactive, since most people, especially those who didn’t have any problems, won’t post reviews on their own.
Typically, only 5% to 10% of customers write online reviews. But, according to BrightLocal, 72% of consumers who had been asked to write a review actually did so. How and when you ask depends on your business and your preference. Make sure you wait long enough that the customer has received and been able to use your product or service.
As for delivery method, automated email follow-ups are one popular method and require little to no effort from your team. But if you have a business that involves direct interaction with customers, reaching out personally may allow you to better target those most likely to write reviews. Either way, make sure you highlight in the request that you’re offering a digital reward. You can even integrate a rewards delivery tool, like Rybbon, with your customer relationship management platform to automate the distribution.
Once you decide to offer a digital reward to increase online reviews, whether it be a charitable donation or a virtual gift card, you must be prepared to follow through on your offer. That means you may end up rewarding customers who wrote mediocre or even bad reviews. It’s important for your brand reputation that you give the same reward to all reviewers. You want to show customers that you are open and eager for all feedback, not just the raves.
That being said, you should still make every effort to rebuild your trust with those who leave bad reviews. BrightLocal’s survey found that more of today’s reviewers want and read responses to their posts — and fast. Nearly half (46%) expect a business to respond to a review they’ve written within two days. Show reviewers that you value their feedback by posting a publicly visible message. Make sure to address their specific concerns, since 70% would be put off by a templated review response. You may even consider offering a digital reward to them once the issue is resolved or as a consolation; it can be a very effective customer appeasement tactic.
Not only is it important to make it right because of that individual customer’s future business, but your response could prompt the writer to update their review with a better rating. It also shows other prospects reading the review that you care about the feedback and do your best to make customers happy.
There are so many review websites now, you must do your research to make sure your efforts are put to the best use. Figure out which sites shoppers go to when looking for your type of product or service. The key, though, is to make sure you’re following the rules of those sites. While incentives are used widely in exchange for B2B reviews, including on G2, Capterra, and TrustRadius, consumer sites are often more stringent. Popular options such as Google and Tripadvisor don’t allow you to offer incentives. Yelp goes so far as to prohibit you from even asking customers to review their experience. There are even certain federal regulations that may affect your strategy to increase online reviews. Read terms and conditions carefully to decide where to focus your rewards strategy. Bazaarvoice, for instance, allows incentivized reviews as long as they are labeled as such. Also be sure to check industry-specific sites — Zocdoc is an example where incentives are not only allowed, but encouraged.
By putting some effort into increasing online reviews, you can better protect yourself so a few negative opinions don’t unravel your good rating. Since so many people look at reviews before making almost any purchase decision, it’s important to give them a positive but authentic idea of your business. That not only means using digital rewards to solicit reviews from customers across the satisfaction spectrum, but also working to make it right with any who aren’t happy. By showing that you value all feedback, you can boost both your reputation and your bottom line.
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