The complete guide to reviews
Consumer reviews can provide much more than just feedback on products and services — they also improve traffic to your website and improve conversions once visitors get there.
The complete guide to reviews for any business
Having reviews is an essential part of stronger marketing and sales, but it’s only the first step.
Today, the winners in business are not always the ones with the lowest prices or the biggest range of products. In fact, the winners are not even always the biggest brands. The winners are trusted companies who offer an exceptional customer experience again and again.
Simply, the winners are those who are listening to their customers.
But that’s just the beginning.
Reviews are a powerful marketing asset
Reviews are one of the best types of social proof you can get for your business. Used in the right way, your reviews can improve every area of your marketing performance and increase your overall conversions:
- Reviews build brand awareness faster by making your business more memorable.
- Reviews improve the response from all your marketing activity, be it a better conversion rate from an abandoned basket email or improved click-through rate from your Google Ads.
- Reviews are great for increasing repeat purchases too. They build trust with your customers faster and the more a customer trusts you, the more they’ll buy from you.
Plus, they offer a never-ending supply of user-generated content — content search engines love.
In this guide we’ll take a deep dive into the many ways you can make reviews work for your business. But first, let’s cover the basics.
Why does social proof work so well in marketing and sales?
Customers need to trust us before they will buy from us. Social proof is a way of tapping into psychology to foster trust with your future customers in a way that consistently works.
The principle of social proof, as introduced by Robert Cialdini in his groundbreaking 1984 book Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion, is that if you see someone else doing something,you are more likely to be persuaded to do that thing yourself.
That includes buying.
In almost every A/B test, the landing page, advertisement, homepage or email that includes a form of social proof will be the winner. In 2015 Tu and Fishbach took this concept to another level when they discovered that — when social proof is framed in terms of preference (‘X many people gave this product 5/5’) it is significantly more influential than when it is framed in terms of action (‘X many people purchased this product’).
That’s why your reviews are marketing gold. They provide you with a huge range of preference-based social proof.
Now let’s unpack the many ways customer reviews can improve your marketing and sales performance.
1. Reviews enhance PPC performance on every platform
Earn Google Seller Ratings to improve Google Ads performance
Once you’ve got 100 reviews and a score of 3.5/5 or higher, performance-enhancing stars that will make your business stand out ahead of the competition can appear in your Google Ads.
Once you’re eligible, these stars appear on your ads in Google search and on Google search partners’ listings. They also appear in the merchant reviews on both Google Shopping and Google Ads.
It lends a healthy dose of social proof right into your ads, making your business stand out from the competition in the search results, and increasing your click-through rate. That’s great news for getting new customers (and returning customers) to your website.
A higher click-through rate should increase your sales and will usually improve your Quality Score, meaning you’ll get traffic at a lower cost per click. This in turn gives you a lower cost per acquisition and frees up more budget for the rest of your business.
Make sure your remarketing strategy is ready for action
Remarketing straddles many channels and software platforms. You can run remarketing advertising using Google, Facebook, Twitter and more.
No matter which you’re using, all of them can experience a performance improvement if you include your reviews in the ad creative. This can look like:
- Quoting an individual customer review.
- Use your overall rating in the images.
- Show how many customers have rated you highly.
- The best part? Highlighting your reviews in ad creative can be done without design skills (or an in-house designer) with some help from Trustpilot’s social media image generator.
With remarketing, you’re putting ads in front of people who have some existing relationship with your business. The extra social proof might be the deciding factor that nudges customers to purchase from you.
Having reviews on your key landing pages will improve how often you appear in the search engine results. The more often you appear, the more traffic you’ll get.
User-generated content is SEO Gold
The reason that reviews help is that they provide the type of content that Google loves:
- Reviews increase the amount of text on each pages. More text makes for a more valuable page in the eyes of Google, because it helps search engines understand what the page is about.
- Review text is unique. Unique text fuels SEO. Review text, written by your customers, is unique content that increases the value of the page for Google. This makes it easier to fill out pages that would normally be bare, like product or landing pages.
Both of these elements help Google to better understand your page and your site. This enables them to show your page in the results for more relevant search terms, more often, resulting in a higher volume of better quality traffic to your site.
The icing on the cake is that all this happens automatically — no extra copywriting for you.
Show off star ratings in organic search results with Product Reviews
Wish you could feature your ratings and reviews in organic search, too? As it turns out, you can use product reviews to show off star ratings and attract more attention in organic search.
The best part? it’s easy to implement but has high impact: Adding some simple code (aka schema code) to your product pages helps give Google more data and context in its understanding of the product page. If your code meets Google’s current guidelines, it can be awarded with the powerful Rich Snippet stars in the organic SERPs.
On top of that, empowering customers to leave reviews on each of your products — and making sure Google can index those review — can improve your site’s visibility for long tail search queries.
Try as you might, thinking of every possible descriptor, use case, or problem your product solves can be quite difficult. Thankfully, product reviews let your customers become the copywriters and enable them to share their own unique experiences with your product. In turn, this can help your visibility for an unprecedented number of long tail search queries organically.
Fortunately, Trustpilot’s Product Review Trustboxes allow you to place reviews on site with structured data that can enable Rich Snippet stars. And they’re easy to implement. All you have to do is copy+paste some code!
Choose a trusted third-party review platform to improve your online reputation in search
When people search for reviews of your brand, what do they find? Trustpilot profile pages tend to appear as a top search result, often with Rich Snippet stars, and are backed by the credibility of a review platform built for people and businesses.
But why do Trustpilot profile pages tend to rank at the top of search engine results pages?
We don’t mean to brag, but Trustpilot’s domain authority is strong. In fact, as of 2019, Trustpilot is among the top 1% of most visited sites in the world and 0.35% of all Google searches include a Trustpilot company profile page.
The more reviews you get and enrich the content on your Trustpilot profile page (think: company contact information, mission statement, social media profiles), the more content you provide for search engines to associate your brand with ours, and show your profile page at the top of search results.
How can you grow your presence on Trustpilot? Claim your profile page to make sure the information stays accurate. Make sure to enrich your profile with details like social media links, a description of your company or excerpt from your mission statement, and business contact info.
3. Email marketing performs better with reviews
Email marketing is one of the most powerful ways to drive sales to your website, encouraging enquirers to buy for the first time and getting those essential repeat purchases.
You have more control over the traffic from email marketing than SEO and the costs are typically much lower than PPC. According to a study from Hubspot, more than 59% of marketers report that email is the biggest driver of marketing ROI.
Every improvement in email click-through rate is going to help you increase your conversions, and it turns out that reviews can improve click-through rate in emails.
With email, you can also be creative with your reviews, using them as the basis for different types of email content. For example, one email may focus on post-purchase service whilst another can focus on feedback about a key product benefit.
Highlight your reputation in every single email campaign
Every single email you send should include some proof of your trustworthiness. Just add your rating to your email header or a customer quote to the footer.
You can also craft emails completely focused on social proof as these often have a great response rate — TaxSlayer Pro has had great success with this approach.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Our top reviewed products this month.
- Thank you for making us a 5 star company.
- 5 ways we’ve used your reviews to improve our customer service.
- Meet Sue, our top customer service rep.
- We thought our teapots were great, your feedback has made them even better!
- The products you love.
Control the conversation in welcome campaigns
Welcome campaigns are your first opportunity to build a direct relationship with a future customer.
The majority of your email signups will have not made a purchase yet and will be brand new to your business.
This is your opportunity to convince them you are a business they want to buy from. Here are some easy things you could include in your welcome email campaigns to increase responses:
- A different customer review in each email.
- Include your rating in the header or footer.
- Feature your top-rated products.
Reviews make abandoned cart reminders even more compelling
You’ll always get some abandoned baskets so a campaign to encourage customers to come back and checkout is really important.
Many businesses rely on special offers and promotions to get a good response from their abandoned basket emails, but adding reviews could generate a big enough response that you don’t need to compromise your precious margin.
Adding a couple of customer reviews to your abandoned basket emails reminds customers of how great your service and products are, encouraging them to come back and complete their purchase.
4. Using reviews in the rest of your marketing
It’s easy to purely focus your effort on the three major traffic channels – SEO, PPC, and email. But never forget the social proof your reviews convey can improve all your marketing – both offline and online.
Whether it is marketing designed to drive a direct response or marketing that makes new people aware of your business, what better way to do that than to show them the great experiences others have had with your brand?
Add reviews to your product packaging
Include reviews and your rating on the product packaging itself. Whether someone buys from you directly or via another shop you wholesale to, they’re going to hear about your fantastic products and customer service.
Highlight your reviews through direct mail
From simple postcards to full catalogs, make sure your rating and reviews are clearly visible from the start. If the marketing piece features products, then add individual quotes from reviews about those products, too.
Show off your reviews with social media and blogging
These days, 54% of online shoppers look to social media to help research their purchases. That means your social media content needs to be as optimized as your other marketing channels.
Make sure you add your rating and reviews to your profile page descriptions and posts. The content ideas in the email section are equally relevant to your social media and blog.
5. Improve the conversion performance of your website
All the methods we’ve covered demonstrate to your customers and future customers your highly trustworthy reputation. It also shows them how great you are at customer service and how amazing your products and services are.
But that positive impression has to be reinforced when they get to your website. By keeping the message consistent, you’ll increase your conversion rates.
Here's how to turn your website into a finely tuned conversion machine.
The homepage: first impressions count on your number one landing page
When it comes to website optimization, the homepage is frequently overlooked in favor of the pages closer to the end of the purchase funnel, such as the basket, checkout and product pages. That is a missed opportunity.
The homepage is the most visited page on almost all websites and it’s usually the number one landing page. It’s a page where customers get their first impression of your business, as well as a page they’ll keep coming back to.
On this page, you need to showcase your great customer service and how well you look after your customers. That means your reviews need to be front and center.
Here’s some great ways to use reviews to create a great first impression on your homepage:
- Highlight the quality and quantity of your reviews. For example “We’ve had 2,365 reviews this year, 95% of which are 5/5”.
- Feature 3-5 recent customer reviews. This highlights your best features and products.
- Highlight your best reviewed products. “Here are some products our customers rate 5 stars”.
These approaches work on any other key landing page. That said, it’s a good idea to prioritize pages that have high traffic volumes and worse than average bounce rates.
Optimizing your product pages for conversions
As mentioned above, product reviews are an SEO secret weapon — but they can also make your conversions skyrocket, helping you turn more browsers into buyers.
According to the experts at Shopify, 79% of online shoppers trust product reviews as much as a personal recommendation. And other studies have revealed that product reviews are 12x more trusted than manufacturer or product descriptions. In short, product reviews make the buying decision easier for your customers.
Product reviews on their own are great, but here are a few key reasons you should choose a product review provider that enables photo sharing and user-generated content.
- Millennials trust user-generated content 50% more than traditional media and think it is 20% more influential for purchase decisions and 35% more memorable than other media types
- Consumers are 3x more likely to perceive content created by a consumer as authentic compared to content created by a brand.
- 67% of consumers say images are very important when making a purchasing decision.
- 53% of consumers found user-generated images even more important than ratings or reviews.
So if your business sells physical products, don’t miss the opportunity to make the most of user-generated content on your product pages.
The header and footer: the oft-forgotten way to improve every single page on your website
Depending on what they searched to find your business, customers can arrive via almost any page on your site. With this in mind, every page is an opportunity to convince them to make the critical decision to purchase.
The easiest way to make sure your trust-building social proof message gets across no matter where visitors land on your site is to add your star rating to your header or footer.
It’s a small change that can make a big difference.
Exit pages: plug the holes and keep people on your website
Every journey has its start point and its end point — and if that end point isn’t the “Thank you for your order” page, then you need to increase your conversion rates.
First, identify any pages with high exit rates. To find these, go to the “Exit Pages” report in Google Analytics and look for those that have a high volume of traffic and a high exit % score.
Once you’ve found your problem pages, you can add your reviews to reduce your exit rate.
With exit pages, it’s worth taking the time to look at the actual page and see if you can spot a problem:
- Are there enough calls to action on those pages to keep people on the website?
- Is the page a dead end on the website?
- And of course, are there any individual reviews that would really help on this page?
Trustpilot’s Review Tagging feature makes it easy to surface the right reviews on key pages.
For example, a common exit point can be the Delivery and Returns page — so if you have reviews where customers praise your delivery and returns service, they’d be a great addition to this page.
Final thoughts: Think marketing, think reviews
Hopefully it’s clear by now that there are infinite creative ways that you can integrate reviews into your marketing and sales funnel to take your business performance to new heights.
And If you really want to make the most of your reviews, focus on growing your review collection until your social proof reaches critical mass. This makes it even easier to highlight your reviews throughout your marketing, and even tailor them to campaigns and product promotions.
So bookmark this page — and the next time you’re thinking through a campaign or a business challenge, ask yourself: how could reviews increase the response?
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