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With people increasingly heading to the internet to research products and services before they commit to purchasing online or in store, reviews are fundamental in turning prospective buyers into paying customers. Reviews are like word of mouth recommendations but have the added benefit of taking on a viral form of feedback that can virtually reach an audience that extends beyond a friend of a friend. Peer reviews help others make and solidify their purchasing decisions acting as a kind of marketing currency that is provided by your loyal fans.

Here are 3 reasons why online reviews are so important:

Online reviews increase conversions

When conducting research into a product, potential buyers are further in the buying process given that they’re trying to seek out the finer details beyond a manufacturer’s description or your sales pitch. Instead, they’re looking to see what other people have to say about a service or product because they are seriously considering making a purchase.

According to Econsultancy, site visitors who interact with reviews and customer questions and answers are 105% more likely to actually make a purchase during their visit. When you have great reviews, it helps eliminate any doubts your potential buyers may have because there is social proof of your previous successes. This in turn aids them along in the buying process because they can see that others have also benefited from what it is you offer. 

Good online reviews establish trust

In this saturated digital world, we have the ability to plug into a search engine a product or service we are looking for and multiple results will come back to us. What helps to sway consumers in a targeted direction is nods in favor of your business from other real life consumers. In a survey conducted by Search Engine Land, they found that 88% of consumers say that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, 72% say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more. As we depend on the internet to help us navigate through this life, it is no wonder that we take at face value the recommendations of others even if they’re given to us in an online format. 

Online reviews help your SEO

Whether you display your online reviews via a client testimonial section in your website or use a third party review site like Yelp or Google+, having client reviews helps your SEO efforts. The user-generated content that comes from reviews is viewed as fresh content by the search engine bots that they index and file accordingly. Thus, when someone types in the product or service that you offer, your business is more likely to come up especially if they’re typing in “product/service” + “review” in the search box. If you have this information on your website, you are more likely to pick up this traffic! Also, because people leaving reviews tend to use similar language to those searching for the same item/service, you have the added benefit of ranking for long tail search phrases that you may not have thought of yourself.

For these reasons, let your consumers do the marketing for you!

Give your customers their voice and put a review acquisition strategy in place. If you don’t already have one, here are some tips to get you started:

Choose your platform

Whether you want to solicit reviews to feature on your website or use a third party service, find a platform that works for you and your industry. For doctors, there’s RateMDs. For homebuilders, there’s houzz. For restaurants, there’s Urbanspoon/Zomato. Travel Advisor, Yelp, Google+ - there’s a plethora of review sites available. If you’re unsure as to what review website best suits your industry, then simply type into Google “your industry” + “reviews” to find a site that is most relevant for your business and then create a listing.

Now ask your customers for reviews

Ask for what you want. Ask customers for reviews. If they are pleased with the service that you’ve provided ask them to leave a review and make the process as simple as possible for them. Provide a direct link to the review platform you are using and offer an incentive if you’d like.

Email customers post purchase

Follow up with your customers to say thank you for their business after they have made a purchase. Not only with they think you lovely, but again you have the opportunity to ask for a review. Include the direct link to your review site and ask them kindly to say something about you and your business. 

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