Online reviews are an effective word-of-mouth marketing strategy in the digital age, providing outside perspectives on products and services. Consumers also rely on reviews to make virtually every purchase: Shopee for a new coffee maker, booking.com for an upcoming vacation to Boracay, and Airbnb to rent accommodation.
Getting people to leave reviews is hard, but it’s essential to giving customers the information they need exactly when they need it and improving your marketing strategy.
Berns San Juan: Let’s talk about a behavior that has been drastically going to waste. We’re going to talk about online reviews today, why they matter, how they matter, and how to get more of them in 2023. So I think it’s common sense online reviews, they’re effective, they’re digital word-of-mouth. I think they should be part of any type of strategy that you have. It’s a great host sale testimonial to your brand, to your product. And if anything, if you recall 2020 to 2022, probably early 2023, when we were all hunkering down and we were all locked down, there was this amazing behavior that brands had instilled in people or that people complied with and adapted to during the quarantines, right? Do you guys remember walking into an establishment, walking into a mall and scanning a QR code, and filling that out before your transaction?
That activity is not much different from getting a review from your customers. And yet, as soon as the lockdowns lifted, all of those digital behaviors had just disappeared. We seem to have stopped soliciting our customers for information, but why? I think brands find it hard to get their customers to leave reviews, but I’m here to argue that it’s easier than you think. It’s absolutely essential inside a customer’s journey or let’s say a sales funnel, right? Customers go through awareness, education, preference, consideration, a close, and then the post-sale, which is loyalty. And one of the things that every marketing school will teach you is that word-of-mouth is about turning your existing customers into your walking, talking billboards. If it’s that essential, why isn’t it part of our normal activities?
Three Scenarios Where Online Reviews Work
Let me paint you a couple of scenarios, where online reviews matter. So imagine it’s a Friday night and you and your family decide that you want to eat out, right? And the place that you wanted to go to has a long queue outside ‘cause somebody forgot to make the reservation for, I don’t know, 8 heads, 14 heads. So you’re curious, most of you have your heart set on that kind of cuisine. So you’re curious about what your other options are, right? And this has probably happened to many of you. And so you search, let’s say you wanted to go to a Japanese restaurant and the Japanese restaurant’s queue is immensely long. And so you’re looking for Japanese restaurants Trinoma, Japanese restaurants UP Town, and Japanese restaurants BGC. And then you look for which ones are the top-rated. But you also take a look at what audiences have to say about it. You probably won’t rely on the reviews only on the Google business profile. You probably won’t rely only on the reviews that you see about it on Zomato and so on, right? You’re probably going to compare notes and then just like that, one of those establishments that is the alternative gets 8, 12, 14 customers, additional new customers just because they were more available than their other competitors online, right? So that’s one scenario.
Here’s another scenario. You are in the market for a new car. You know the kind of car you want, right? You either want a family car or a van, you want an SUV, or you want a Sedan, but you’re not sure about which dealer to get it from. And, you know, a car is still a relatively serious purchase and some people treat it like an investment. It’s not, but you know, it’s such a huge purchase. So we wanna make sure that we don’t just buy the brand we want. The car color we want. The car model we want. We also wanna make sure that we buy it from a dealer whom we are confident will take care of us, right? Like, take, for example, me, for the past 10 years that’s been Chevy Greenhills. So you take a look at the reviews of a man dealer trade a dealer, in Congressional, a dealer. Let’s say in Quezon Avenue, and you try to figure out who’s got raving reviews from their existing customers. Who are the dealers that their customers feel take care of them? Like. where the customers feel like they are the only customer of that dealership. Because that’s the one we wanna go to. We want to go with the dealer that will treat us like we’re not Customer 1057. We always wanna get treated like customer number one.
I’ve got something that’s, you know, a little more personal. So if you are a dog lover, if you are a pawrent then you probably know other people that are dog parents, right? So that’s one. But two is, you probably also know that pet owners can be very particular. They can be very particular, sometimes more ridiculously particular than an actual parent of a human child. But they can be very particular. They’re very particular about the vet that they go to. They’re particular about the groomer that their dogs will go to. And so, they want to go to a groomer, they want to go to a provider, they want to go to a service provider, a brand. They wanna work with a brand that they feel will take care of their dogs with the same care that they will, that will give their dogs the same kind of affection that they will, right?
So and this is a deeply personal decision, at least you know, for dog owners. And you know, for the dog owners that are listening, you know what I’m talking about. So you do a quick online search and you look for the groomers that are in your area. Let’s pretend that you don’t like it. Think for example, I live along Katipunan, my dogs get their grooming in Greenhills. That’s like a whopping 6, 7 kilometers from my house. And this is probably the fourth groomer I had tried before picking them out. But I had one, the decision-making criteria for me were A, the online reviews, and the wait time because I’d gone to other groomers before and what I realized was when my appointment for my dog was two o’clock, my dog sat in a kennel in a cage for 30 minutes, an hour before it becomes their turn. And you know, for doggy dad, that’s a no-go. So I wanted to find a groomer that was infamous for starting the appointment on time and for giving you back your dog on time, on the dot. And you know, I found it. This is Pet Express in Greenhills. I love those guys. Shoutout to Ron.
So take away, in all of these scenarios, you’re going to choose businesses that are A, available, right? Like they’re in your area. B, they’ve got genuine reviews coming from their customers, and their customers genuinely rave about them. C, there might be a rant somewhere there, right? You know, just for distribution and naturalness and, you know, reviews that highlight their reliability, the expertise, the care, and the professionalism that you’re likely going to receive ‘cause ultimately we don’t look for just commodities. We are looking for an experience. When you buy a car, you’re gonna have a five-year experience with that vehicle. And so you want somebody that will help you take care of your vehicle, especially with your dogs. Although I don’t think that I need to explain that further.
So think back on those scenarios and then think back to the way I introed this, right? Like, let’s go back to the lockdowns. One of the things that baffle me is I love the fact, by the way, I didn’t love getting locked down, but I love the fact that when we were all locked down people quickly adapted to digital behaviors super quickly, just like that almost overnight. And if people can adopt that quickly, that means that the only reason people are not leaving reviews for brands is that brands are not good at encouraging that behavior. But I will argue you absolutely must.
Why Are Online Reviews Important To Your Business?
Online reviews are super important to your business. First of all, think of it as digital word-of-mouth, right? I think the best kinds of customers you can get, definitely the best kinds of employees you can get are referrals. Like for us, the best source of new candidates are candidates that are employees referred to the business. The best kinds of clients we acquire are the ones that are referred to us by word of mouth. Word-of-mouth just creates the most valuable kinds of customers. And this is what reviews are. They are sort of evergreen, word-of-mouth feedback about your business. They are always available, always online forms of feedback, and word-of-mouth about your business.
Consumers refer to online reviews before making any purchasing decisions
Spiegel’s research came from a study that found that 95% of consumers read online reviews. I think I even read Google stats for Google my business profiles roughly around the same figures, around 95, 96%. And 9 out of 10 of these people will say that it influenced purchasing decisions. There was a survey that was conducted by Power Reviews that said that 30% of respondents from a survey said that it was the reviews that influenced their purchasing decision with a brand or for a product or whatnot, right? So A, customers know to be reliant on online reviews. Practical application, everybody goes to Lazada. Everybody goes to Shopee. What is the one thing that your friends will tell you? Aside from, you know, what’s the one thing that your friends will tell you aside from, you know, buying it from a LazMall? They’ll say, only go with vendors that have reviews, right? So reviews matter, they are great credibility virtue signals.
Customers especially rely on reviews before making big purchases
Up next, customers will rely on the higher the purchase, the more people will rely on reviews. So I’ll repeat that. The higher the purchase value, the more customers will rely on a review. I’ll give you guys an example. The vendors at 168 in Divisoria. Do you guys think those guys care about their online reviews? Probably not, right? But if you are investing let’s say a Burberry bag, a Lacoste bag, or a Longchamp bag, I’m not gonna talk about the more ridiculously expensive ones like a Hermes. Those guys don’t need reviews. But the point is when we’re making a purchase. Gaming laptops! Great example, right? A significant investment today, and yes gaming laptops are investments, not like cars. This is my podcast. I can say what I wanna. But the larger the purchase price, the more we will look for reviews.
Like, one of the things that I usually check out reviews for, for example, is running shoes. And especially if somebody comes up with new running shoes that are 9k, right? I wanna know that that’s worth 9k because sometimes the running shoe is worth 9k and then lasts you all of 4 months, which sort of, doesn’t feel very worth it. But you know, if you wanna take a look at the reviews, the larger the purchase value is.
Reviews increase confidence in your brand for prospective customers
Customers can lose trust in a big way. And when products or services or brands have like two, or three-star ratings, you’re probably not going to get a lot of online customers. You probably still will, like, for those niche customers like the, like, I don’t know, maybe 1% of the market year after or whatnot.
But people will not necessarily shun people that are like 3.8 stars or whatnot. Like as long as there’s a good distribution, as long as there’s a couple of fives there. But customer trust decreases by roughly two-thirds. So that’s about 66.6, 67%, right? For every one fewer star that you have, right? So, 4’s are likely to generate as many customers as 5’s because we think that that’s relatively good. But 3’s are, you know, getting from a 3 to a 4 is a significantly better jump than getting from a 4 to a 5. And then of course products with like 1 or 2 stars, you might as well have no stars. ‘Cause that’s how we think.
Negative reviews can be a good thing
Not all negative reviews are bad because one of the factors that your customers will look for is your resilience, and your ability to respond to negative feedback. And then they’ll want to know, if I have a negative experience, are these people going to just walk away from me or are they going to help me? Is this brand going to help me? Is it worth being loyal to this brand? And so in the presence of a negative review, people will usually replace the sentimentality metric with the response time metric. And so you want to make sure that you respond quickly, especially to negative reviews.
Higher review quantity affects the credibility
Next, one of the other things that influence our perception of a brand is review volume. The number of reviews we get affects the perception of our brand, right? And so, a product or a service that’s got 3 reviews, 4 reviews will not do as much as a brand that’s got 70 reviews. I’ll give you guys a great example. Like, and I think that to-go when it comes to this is always Amazon, right? Amazon’s got great user-generated content on every product page and it is in. It sits in three sections, the user can rate it, other customers can ask questions that other customers can respond to, and then people can leave testimonials about a product. Terrific. Like in, in my opinion, these are all terrific. So you’ll see that not only does Amazon generate a lot of reviews and just not just all-star ratings, right? Not only does Amazon generate many types of feedback for a product, or a huge volume of feedback, they generate multiple types of feedback for a specific product. So, the quantity of your reviews affects your credibility. The other thing is reviews can begin experiences. They are great ways to begin customer engagement, right? And then of course they can help you grow a customer base because, like the way I started this, reviews are sort of like evergreen always available online word-of-mouth testimonials for your brand. So those matter.
Review Factors Affecting Credibility and Brand Perception
Now, let’s say you listen to this podcast and you had an epiphany. Review management has to be part of your marketing complement. What do you measure to find out whether or not your reviews are working in your favor or not?
Where do you rate on a five-point scale? Do you have more supporters than you do detractors? Remember having detractors is okay, there will be a metric I will mention later why that matters. But you, the general sentimentality of the general population have to be positive when it comes to your brand or your product.
If you are not in the habit, in the behavior, and you do not have a process for acquiring customer reviews, you need to develop one now. So review volume matters. How many people say good things about you matters. And the fact that these people sound and look like you.
Got a negative review, no problem, respond quickly.
It does matter when the last review of you was from 3 years ago versus 3 days ago. So there’s a difference. There’s a difference when some, when some, the last thing somebody, the last good thing somebody had to say about you was from 3 years ago. And, and it makes a world of a difference when the last good thing somebody had to say about you was three days ago.
We’re likely going to be like, I think everybody is aware or we’d be naive if we didn’t, but there are fake reviews there, right? Like there are fake reviews, there are brands that review themselves. Some brands will buy 10 sim cards, sim reg or no sim reg. They will buy 10 sim cards, create 10 G-mail accounts and review themselves online, right? So there, it’s rarely as sophisticated. So most of the time you’ll see the rating as 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, rave, rave, rave, rave. These matter to us because when we don’t see a natural distribution and our minds are built to look for natural variations, we automatically think that it’s fake. It doesn’t matter if the sentimentality is good if the recency is there, and if the volume is high, when there is a large uniformity to sentiment and a large uniformity to volume. And when there’s just a large level of uniformity, it tends to elicit distrust, not trust. So you sort of do the opposite.
Take this off of Amazon’s playbook. If you go to any Amazon page, what you’ll notice is that people that provide feedback or whatnot can post images of the products that they purchase. This is visual evidence and it just, you know, it’s just more visually compelling. It creates more trust and then, you know, to a smaller degree, but still to a degree, review or reputation.
When the review looks like it’s coming from dog mom 12, and then the next review comes from dog mom 14, right? There’s a problem with that. And then of course you might get the incidental, like you guys, have you guys ever been to a restaurant? Oh, I love going to Maginhawaa, right? Because when you go to these hole-in-the-wall stores, one of the things that you’ll notice these restaurants is if anybody famous had walked in, they would’ve taken a photo and posted it on a corkboard somewhere, right? Like, I love that. And this is, this is what this is like reviewer reputation.
Now and then you will lock out on somebody with a lot of social capital, that might provide you with a review or somebody who walks in, don’t let them walk out without leaving you a review.
Tips to Get More Online Reviews
Make it automatic and logical
One, take a lesson from the pandemic, right? People adapt to new behaviors quickly. If you could have offered somebody a tablet, or an iPad on their way in before you could service them, why not offer them an iPad that they could work on and give you and leave you a review for one, or two minutes, right? So A, make it common sense, make it automatic. Make it logical. So that’s the first way to get a review.
Make it easy and shorten the process.
I think there are, there are people that will say, oh sir, can you give me a review by scanning this QR code? The person then has to whip out their phone and then they have to scan the QR code and then they might not have mobile data. They might be on an Android that doesn’t have a camera that automatically scans the QR code, right? Like, save the hassle. Have a device in your office, or in your establishment that the user can use to leave you a review, right?
Make it a habit to ask your loyal customers to leave reviews if they haven’t yet.
I’ll give you guys a great example. So again, pet Express Greenhills, I love these guys to bits. I’ve not written them a review. That’s sad. That’s on me. As a good customer, I will probably write them a review after this podcast, but I’ve not written them a podcast and they’ve never asked me to write them a review, right? So I’ve never written them a review. Chevy Greenhills have never written them a review, yet I bought multiple cars from them, but I’ve never written, I’ll buy a car from you, but I won’t write you a review. Of course, I’ll write you a review. Anytime Fitness, I have gone to Anytime Fitness across five countries. I love this brand. I’ve not reviewed them, right? So why haven’t I reviewed them? A, I got other things to do, but B, they never asked. Ask your loyal customers, right? I’ve been a, I’ve been a member of Anytime Fitness since 2017, 2018 I think, right? So we’re, we’re, our relationship is going 5 years. They’ve never asked me for a review. Ask your customers, you’re not gonna die, right?
Now, when I say ask customers, I don’t just mean, create a newsletter, or sequence soliciting reviews, although you can do that too. Ask them why they’re there or while they’re there, right? Like putting up an iPad every, do a review. Like if I’m Anytime Fitness, do a review Friday, meaning every Friday you have somebody sitting at the front desk intercepting everybody that’s just left the shower to check out at the gym, right? And ask them for a review, right? Like, that’s easy, but directly engage with them. You don’t have to do electronic solicitation. ‘Cause again, people have the stuff to do. If you gave me a, if my dog was bothering me and I saw your newsletter asking me for review, guess if I’m gonna pay attention to your, so to your newsletter or my dog. My dog wins 100% of the time, right?
Share your reviews on social media
Next, if your customers do provide you with reviews, share them on social media. Tag your customers, right? Amplify their voice. Don’t just use your social media to amplify your ideas and how great your brand is. People don’t care about you as a brand until you care about their problem first, right? But we also care about people that we think are like us. So amplify the voice of your customers if they leave you positive, and solicit their reviews on social media for all the world to see. Amplify their reviews on social media for all of the worlds to see.
Incentivise customers to leave a review
Everybody likes getting something for free. And in a survey, 73% of customers said they’d be inclined to leave a review if they were offered reward points, a freebie, or whatnot. It doesn’t have to be expensive.
So I hope you gathered some valuable lessons, about reviews and, you know, for if, if 1, 2, 3 businesses, companies, business owners, or brands that were listening to this podcast immediately implemented a review program, after listening to this mission accomplished,
For those of you listening, I hope you found a couple of actionable items to do. Thank you for listening to another episode of the Truelogic DX podcast. My thanks again to Ron and the team at Podmachine for powering this.
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