How You Can Use Genuine Product Reviews to Market Your Business

If there’s one thing that consistently leads to higher sales figures, it’s social proof. And customer reviews and testimonials are among the most effective social proof techniques available.

If there’s one thing that consistently leads to higher sales figures, it’s social proof. And customer reviews and testimonials are among the most effective social proof techniques available.

Thus, it follows that if you use product reviews in your marketing strategy, you’ll enjoy higher sales.

Why, then, are only some companies marketing their reviews in an effective manner?

The value of product reviews

Online reviews are great, but so what? Have you ever had this thought? If so, you aren’t alone. We all know that attaining positive product reviews is a good thing, but what is the practical value? Consider the following benefits:

  • Drives traffic: If someone reads a positive review on a third-party page, they’re much more likely to visit your website to learn more. As a result, product reviews are major lead generators.
  • Increases conversion rate: Product reviews are forms of social proof. When a customer sees a product review on a landing page or product page, it increases the likelihood that they’ll convert.
  • Serves as word of mouth: Think about how valuable word of mouth is. You can see an advertisement for a product on TV, but it’s not nearly as compelling as hearing a personal testimony from a friend. Well, in the online world, product reviews act as word-of-mouth “hooks.”

As you can see, positive product reviews aren’t just something you can brag about or look at on a day when you’re feeling down. They humanize your brand and generate traffic–both of which play key roles in driving conversions.

Five tips for leveraging product reviews

According to this infographic from Reputation Advocate, 73 percent of customers say positive reviews make them more likely to trust a business, 87 percent say they reinforce the decision to purchase a product that’s previously been recommended to them and 85 percent say they frequently read online reviews for local businesses.

Want to know how you can circulate and publicize your product reviews to drive traffic, increase conversions, and enhance your word of mouth marketing efforts? Here are some timely tips.

  1. Partner with industry influencers and bloggers: There’s nothing wrong with on-site reviews, but the real value is found in reviews that are posted on third-party websites. Aside from basic industry review sites–or big ecommerce platforms like Amazon–you should be targeting industry influencers. This includes bloggers and social media personalities. Take Mattress Clarity as an example. Companies in the mattress industry know that the site owner, Joe Auer, is an influential figure in the industry. So they send him mattresses to review, and he provides honest ratings and analyses for customers. Is there a similar website, blogger or social media figure in your niche that you can connect with? A free product is a small price to pay for a positive review on a recognizable site.
  2. Incentivize your customers to provide reviews: The majority of customers aren’t going to leave a review. In fact, frustrated customers are more likely to leave reviews out of anger than satisfied customers are to do so out of satisfaction. This means you have to work hard to get your best customers to provide feedback. Try actively incentivizing them with coupon codes, discounts and other simple rewards.
  3. Encourage social media reviews: Social media reviews are among the most powerful reviews you can receive. This includes both formal reviews, such as a rating on your Facebook business page, as well as casual and organic mentions, such as a tweet about how wonderful your product is. Try your best to highlight these reviews whenever possible.
  4. Never create fictional reviews: Because reviews are so effective, it can be tempting to take matters into your own hands when you aren’t getting enough of them. However, the last thing you should ever do is create a fictional review. Fake reviews are easy to spot and totally ruin your brand’s image. If you’re ever caught penning your own reviews, your customers will have a hard time ever believing that your genuine reviews are, in fact, real.
  5. Paste into landing pages: Finally, maximize the visibility of your customer reviews by pasting little quotes and excerpts into your landing pages. When a customer is nearing a purchase decision, a quick element of social proof can push them over the top. You can check out an example of this by reading Lindsay Kolowich’s article on the topic of social proof and landing pages.

Don’t miss this opportunity

No matter what, don’t miss out on this opportunity to maximize the value of product reviews. They afford businesses an array of benefits and can accelerate the conversion process across all stages.

But the key is to look beyond the collection phase. While collecting reviews matters, what you do with those reviews matters even more. Have a plan in place for how you’re going to use them as a marketing tool and you’ll extract maximum value from each and every review.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.