Electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) has become an important factor in shaping consumer decision-making behaviour. Even so, it is still not fully understood why consumers spread eWOM and what influences their participation.
How important are online reviews?
With the rise of the internet, consumers started taking part in the brand imaging process by creating user generated content that can influence a brand’s online reputation, both positively and negatively. With this shift in power, marketers need to know under what conditions consumers write online reviews, if they can influence their intent to do so and how to best reach them.
Last year Bright Local released the findings of their annual Local Consumer Review Survey, revealing that 92% of consumers now read online reviews before a purchase. The same study shows that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
These high numbers are a good indicator on how powerful eWOM has become and the degree of damage it can bring to a brand. According to Greg Gifford, 4 out of 5 people won’t buy from you if you have bad online reviews.
Why do people write online reviews?
The growing importance of online reviews in the purchase decision drove researchers and marketers to investigate the factors that influence this relationship and why consumers go back to online platforms to leave a review after interacting with a product.
Mike Blumenthal asked 600 active online reviewers in a survey when and why do they typically leave a review. The most common answer given was “when the experience is really good or really bad”. 33% of the consumers report writing reviews when they are very satisfied with the product or very dissatisfied with the product. If the experience with the product is average, they don’t leave a review.
Ok, so for those who leave reviews regularly the level of satisfaction is an important factor. What about the rest of the consumers? Can we persuade them to give feedback after trying out a product/service?
How and where to get online reviews?
Last year, at BrightonSEO, David Mihm said that 9/10 consumers who had a positive experience would leave a review if they were asked and only 7% who’ve had a positive experience are actually being asked.
That’s why it’s important to know how and where to ask for a review.
Tips and Tricks
First thing you have to do is populate your search results. If you search for “brand name + reviews” are the results about you or some random restaurant in Atlantic City? You can help replace the irrelevant results by setting up profiles on multiple review sites.
Depending on your product/service, you could take into consideration Yelp, TrustPilot, TripAdvisor, Google My Business, TrustLink and others. Besides these well known websites, for some industries there are review websites where you can submit your business to be reviewed by the webmaster. A good way to find relevant review sites is by looking at your competitors, where they are reviewed and by whom.
Next step is to decide on one review site to focus your efforts on. It’s better to have many reviews on one site, than a few reviews scattered over multiple sites. It was proven that a high number of online reviews influences the purchasing intention of online shoppers. (1) When deciding on the site look at the domain’s authority and take into consideration its chances to rank in the first search result pages.
Then you need to ask your customers to leave a review on the chosen site. You could do that in different ways: add a “please review us” line in your monthly newsletter, include a banner on your website that links to the review site, send direct emails to loyal customers, put in your email signature a review button etc. As long as your product/service is of good quality and you make it easy to leave reviews, it shouldn’t be so difficult to get feedback from your customers.
Remember to constantly monitor all the review websites and to thank your reviewers for their positive reviews. And of course to respond to negative ones.
Bright Local found in their research that 80% of consumers will trust reviews as much as personal recommendations, stressing the fact that traditional WOM loses ground to eWOM, as the latter possess unprecedented scalability and speed of diffusion. Understanding why consumers leave online reviews could give marketers information about the consumer’s internal psychological processes, when satisfaction or dissatisfaction for a product occurs, and what their consequences on the purchase behaviour are. Moreover, knowing how and where to get online reviews could give your business a competitive edge.
(1) Lin, C.L., Lee, S.H., & Horng, D.J. (2011) The effects of online reviews on purchasing intention: the moderating role of need for cognition. Social Behaviour and Personality, 2011, 39(1), 71-82. Society for Personality Research (Inc.)