How to Use Customer Reviews to Grow Your Business Online

Hand placing 5 stars in row for customer review

Fact: nobody goes online to get ‘sold to’ by a brand. 

After an initial Google search, you can bet potential customers are going straight to your reviews to see what real people have to say about your product or service.

The first year of the pandemic led to a 60% increase in online searches, and over 95% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase.

Yet, so many businesses still aren’t taking control of one of the most critical touch points in a buyer’s journey, and 75% of businesses don’t even respond to their online reviews. 

Let’s fix that. In this blog, we’ll share:

  1. The difference between first and third-party reviews
  2. Why customer reviews impact revenue more than you think
  3. Why you should generate more reviews
  4. Why you should monitor your reviews
  5. Why you should market your reviews
  6. When you should consider a Review or Reputation Management Solution

Here we go!

*Heads up! Loomly & Reviews Management Solutions Grade.us and GatherUp are part of the Traject family of MarTech brands. Discounts are available for Loomly customers – shoot us an email at contact@loomly.com to learn more!

The Difference Between First and Third-Party Reviews

Before we get started, it’s important to note that there are two types of customer reviews that you can collect: first-party and third-party.

First-party reviews are reviews that you own. They are collected with a system like GatherUp, or through internal feedback sources like your Customer Success team.

Third-party reviews are reviews from sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp. You don’t own this data and have very little control over it. 

A blend of both types of reviews across multiple sites is best, much like a diversified investment portfolio will provide you the most protection for your brand and long-term benefits.

How Customer Reviews Impact Your Revenue

The data is clear. 

According to a Search Engine Land report, businesses with an above average number of reviews bring in 82% more in annual revenue than businesses with below-average review quantity.

Chart of annual revenue increasing as businesses collect more reviews

Customer reviews impact the most critical decision-making touchpoint of your customer journey in all sorts of ways:

Also, a huge component to top-funnel decision-making is due to customer reviews’ impact on how you show up in search. 

First of all, review management sites like G2, and Capterra often have strong SEO rankings, so having a strong presence on those sites is a great way to get exposure even if you don’t get much web traffic yet.

Take, for example, a general jewelry search with city and state. Notice how significant the presence of reviews is. Everything circled is impacted by reviews and images. All the review sites show up with rich snippets in the organic listing.

Images can be generated from your website, directory listing, or social media, and the same goes for the knowledge panel on the right hand side:Jewelry google searchIf you aren’t managing your customer reviews and taking control of your online reputation, it’s safe to say you’re likely missing out on meaningful revenue. 

Why You Should Generate More Customer Reviews

The sheer volume of reviews impacts whether or not a potential customer will trust your brand. In fact, review counts matter more to local business revenue than star ratings, according to a recent study featured in Search Engine Land

As you can see, review counts are right next to star ratings in search results. Savvy consumers will trust a brand with a 4.3 star rating and 1,000 reviews over a brand with a 5-star rating, but only 10 reviews.

Jewelry Google Search Star Ratings

You can collect your customers’ opinion, feedback, reviews and ratings through any number of ways:

  • Email requests
  • SMS requests
  • Landing Pages
  • In-App Widgets
  • Customer Support/Staff buy-in
  • Review Monitoring

Here are four points to consider when building your number of customer reviews:

  1. More reviews = more visibility. Your review volume should be at least 50% of your top competitor’s review volume. That means, if your competitor has 100 reviews and you only have 10, you are probably not going to be in consideration. 
  2. Setting expectations. Let customers know you’ll be emailing or texting them a link, and that you’d love their feedback as frequently as possible. This should be included in sales and customer support communications across the board.
  3. Timing matters. In most cases, you’ll want to send the request or ask for the review immediately upon delivering an excellent customer experience, service or product. However, certain instances may require more time to determine customer satisfaction. For example, if you’re a lawn service providing fertilizer, you may delay a week or two when the effects of your service are fully realized.
  4. Be genuine. This seems obvious, but you have to actually be interested in hearing what customers have to say. Document both positive and negative trends so you understand what you’re doing great and what you need to work on to improve your customer experience. 

If you’re simply asking for reviews because the competitors have more, you’re doing it wrong. 

Why You Should Monitor Your Customer Reviews

How often have you searched for a business or service, and scanned the reviews primarily to see how the business responded to the negative reviews? If you’re like most people, it’s quite a bit. 

This also has a huge impact on your bottom line: businesses that respond to reviews average 35% more revenue. It’s simple: responding to reviews builds trust.

Here are four points to consider when responding to customer reviews:

  1. Get alerted. Software can send you notifications when new reviews, specifically negative reviews, are created. 
  2. Be professional. Treat the review response as if you were talking directly to a customer face-to-face. 
  3. Show you’re listening. Take the time to create a personalized response. Address the customer by name, identify their issue or what delighted them, and thank them for their feedback. After all, we can’t fix what we don’t know is a problem. 
  4. Be authentic. Customers want to know someone is behind the curtain. And if something goes wrong, how do you respond? That’s important, not only to consumers but also to Google.

Google Review 5 Star Rating Example

Lastly, let’s make this clear: you should definitely respond to negative reviews. You can avoid irrelevant comments, spam, promotions, hate speech and profanity, but your customers want to see that you listen and respond to all reviews, even negative ones.

45% of customers are more likely to visit a business that responds to negative reviews.

Chart showing Customers are more likely to visit a business that responds to negative reviews

Why You Should Market Your Customer Reviews 

Once you’ve collected reviews, it’s time to showcase them online to build your reputation. 

Customer reviews are a powerful form of User-Generated Content (UGC) that can increase conversion rates, improve SEO, and boost your social media strategy. 

Increase conversion rates

In one study, adding just three lines of testimonials to a landing page increased conversion rates by 34%. In another study, adding testimonials to sales pages for relatively low-priced items increased conversion rates by 190%, while conversion rates for more expensive items increased by 380%.

Improve SEO 

Reviews are the 2nd most important local ranking factor, behind Google Business Profile according to Whitespark’s annual survey. Reviews are a validation of the customer experience through user-generated content, and Google loves that.

Chart showing reviews are #2 most important local SEO ranking factor

Boost your social media strategy

Using customer reviews in your social media strategy helps you fill in content gaps, supplement current topics or announcements, and highlight the customer experience your business is delivering. 

You can bet that potential customers are checking out your social platforms to see if you’re maintaining a presence, interacting with customers, and to catch a glimpse of what it’s like to use your product or service. 

Sharing reviews on social media channels is also a great way to encourage more reviews. Customers will see that you’re celebrating their achievements using your product or service, and will be more likely to share one of their own.

The best part (especially for business owners and small marketing teams)? The content’s already been created. All you have to do is share it, and Loomly can help!

When to Consider a Reviews Management Solution

If you’re not sure where to start, that’s ok! It can be difficult for small teams to gather, monitor, and market reviews across multiple sites. 

There are tools that can help, such as end-to-end reviews management platforms like Loomly partners Grade.us or GatherUp. They help with each of the key components of reviews management that we’ve discussed so far:

Automating Review Collection

Tools like Grade.us or GatherUp allow you to send email or SMS requests to your customers asking for feedback in a timely manner. They also offer additional ways to collect that feedback such as unique URLs, landing pages, email snippets and more.

Responding to Reviews

Get notified when you receive a review and make it easy to respond quickly via a single platform so you don’t miss out.

Marketing Reviews

Review management solutions provide social media templates, website widgets, and custom landing pages to deliver a positive brand experience when your customers receive a review request. 

Get Started with Customer Reviews Management

If you’re just getting started, claim your free profiles on reviews collection sites like G2 and Capterra.

Once you start collecting reviews, explore solutions like Grade.us or GatherUp to maximize your value and truly leverage reviews to grow your business online. 

Discounts on reviews products are available to Loomly customers! Just reach out via our site’s chat or contact@loomly.com.