Nothing adds authenticity to your brand like the voice of actual customers talking about all the good things (and yes, sometimes a few not-so-good things) your product or service does for them. But collecting reviews remains a key challenge for many businesses because of the resources needed and the proliferation of “fake” reviews that cast doubt on the value of testimonials.
Nevertheless, consumers and business decision makers rely on online reviews to guide their purchasing decisions, and experts and business owners who use reviews say they are valuable for both B2B and B2C companies. Recent research from LinkedIn and BrightLocal shows that most consumers still trust and value online reviews. Businesses should use reviews on their websites to:
- Offset fraudulent reviews on third-party platforms
- Nurture leads into customers
- Improve search engine optimization
A new survey of 501 businesses using inbound marketing from portfolio website Visual Objects finds that less than one third of businesses invest in collecting and promoting client reviews (32 percent) and case studies (23 percent).
Fake reviews deter some businesses from publishing client feedback
Fraudulent reviews on third-party platforms such as Amazon drive some businesses to avoid publishing reviews altogether.
Third-party websites and vendors will often offer services such as free returns in exchange for a five-star review, no matter the quality of a product.
These fake testimonials led Calloway Cook, founder of Illuminate Labs, to omit reviews from his business’s marketing strategy. “Reviews are useful in theory, but when everything has a five-star review, there’s no way for consumers to know which products are genuinely good and which just have gamed reviews,” Cook said, in a news release.
Research shows, however, that fake reviews have not made reviews less valuable in the eyes of consumers. Data from the Pew Research Center shows that 65 percent of U.S. adults who read reviews believe reviews are generally accurate.
Businesses avoid reviews because they are time-consuming to collect
Reviews can also be time-consuming for businesses to collect, format, and promote. Business owners and account managers may be reluctant to ask a client for an additional favor after they purchased a product or service.
“It’s a personal exercise,” said Fabian Geyrhalter, founder and principal of branding agency FINIEN, in the release. “You have to reach out. You have to ask for favors. That’s why a lot of people never get around to doing it.”
Case studies are also time-consuming to curate and format if businesses lack in-house web design expertise. Well-formatted case studies and client testimonials can, however, drive traffic back to a company’s website by optimizing the pages for search engines. They also show customers examples of past work and highlight positive feedback.
Reviews drive traffic and help convert leads into customers
Businesses featured in the report that use reviews say that reviews have improved website traffic and caused more leads to become customers.
Igor Kholkin, president and chief strategist of Avidon Marketing Group, saw improvements shortly after publishing reviews and case studies on his website.
“We initially made the updates for SEO reasons, but the direct effect on conversions was almost immediate,” Kholkin said, in the release. “Our conversion rate tripled just a week after the updates.”
Reviews show potential clients that a business is willing to form a relationship with people who purchase their products or services.