The Importance of Online Reviews for Small Businesses

  • Mar 28, 2019
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  • by Alex Ali

Running a successful business is about more than just attracting lots of attention. You’ll also need to build trust with your audience. There are numerous ways to do that, but few are as effective as online reviews.

Displaying reviews on your small business website helps to build credibility, since visitors are more likely to trust the opinion of other customers. Plus, taking action and making changes based on your customers’ feedback will prove just how much you value their input.

In this post, we’ll discuss why online reviews are so important. We’ll also offer advice on how to add them to your site. Let’s get started!

What ‘Social Proof’ Is (And Why It Matters)

Anyone who’s bought a product online will have encountered customer reviews. Most people spend time reading through them before completing a purchase. However, why are the opinions of strangers so important to us?

The term ‘social proof’ refers to the psychological phenomenon in which people copy the actions of their peers, since they believe those actions are the ‘correct’ behavior. In short, people are more likely to take an action if they see others doing the same thing.

Social proof works so well is because at our core, humans have evolved to automatically trust the opinions of those around us. In fact, 70% of people will trust a recommendation from a complete stranger, and 92% will trust one that comes from a peer. You can compare this to the standard reception of brand marketing – just 36% of shoppers say they trust that large companies will always tell the truth.

This is because people know that businesses exist almost entirely to sell them things. Therefore, many are understandably skeptical about believing what companies say about their own products. That’s why customer reviews come in handy.

The Importance of Online Customer Reviews

Displaying user reviews is an ideal solution to the problems discussed above. Your customers get to hear from people they’re more likely to trust, and your conversion rates should get a boost in return (as long as most of the reviews are positive):

An example of a positive customer review.

Including real feedback on your site can also help to build brand loyalty. That’s because it will make customers feel as though they’re actually valued by your company. A trusting relationship is especially important for small business owners, since it’s one of your primary ways to stand out in a crowded market.

You’ll need something special to grab the attention of your target audience, and authentic brands attract more high-value customers. Online consumers often identify authenticity as one of the top qualities that attracts them to a brand. Polished brand statements about a product you’re selling won’t always have the same effect as honest, real-life reviews.

Why Negative Reviews Can Also Be Valuable

Although it’s tempting not to, it’s vital to display both the positive and negative reviews you receive. After all, criticism is a valuable form of feedback, and it should be treated as such. No one knows your product better than the people who buy it, so taking their opinions into account can lead to changes for the better.

Of course, you don’t want pages and pages of one-star reviews on your products. However, a few here and there can actually help to boost your credibility. A 4/5 or 9/10 average review score feels much more genuine, and suggests to your audience that the feedback is believable.

In fact, brands that only display 5/5 reviews are actually deemed less reputable by consumers. So while having a few less-than-perfect reviews decreases a product’s average rating, it’s likely to have a positive impact on the way your business grows over time. Of course, you’ll still want to encourage as many good reviews as possible, by providing excellent service.

If you do receive negative feedback, it’s important to respond promptly and professionally:

An example of a negative customer review.

If a customer has experienced an issue, ignoring that (and them) is likely to leave them feeling even more frustrated. Plus, it looks bad to other customers who see that feedback go unanswered. By taking the time to calmly assess the problem, you should be able to work out a mutually-beneficial solution to just about any complaint.

How to Add Customer Reviews to Your Website

Fortunately, adding reviews to your site is simple. There are numerous online tools available to help you out. Let’s look at a few of the most effective.

First up, Trustpilot is perhaps one of the best-known tools for collecting user reviews:

The Trustpilot website.

It can be easily integrated with any popular website builder, and will also send feedback reminder emails to existing customers. A basic account is free, and more feature-rich business plans start at around $299.

Next, ReviewBuddy will not only display existing customer reviews, but also an overall star rating for your site:

The ReviewBuddy website.

Users can submit feedback directly from your site, or via the review request email that ReviewBuddy will automatically send after a purchase is made. Best of all, this particular tool is free to use.

Last but not least, Feefo is used by numerous large companies to collect feedback, including Next, Expedia and Aviva:

The Feefo website.

Although it’s pricier than some of the alternative options, Feefo comes with numerous additional features – such as the ability to submit reviews via SMS. You’ll have to contact the company regarding pricing, since plans are established on a per-client basis.

Conclusion

Trust plays a huge role in the ongoing success of your business. Without it, people simply won’t convert. Fortunately, by displaying product reviews on your small business site, you can begin to establish a more loyal relationship with your audience.

Customer feedback will also offer more insight into how well your products or services are doing. Reviews are a valuable source of feedback, and paying close attention to them can highlight potential areas for improvement. What’s more, adding them to your site is simple with tools like Trustpilot, ReviewBuddy, and Feefo.

Do you have any further questions about the importance of online reviews? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image credit: rawpixel.

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