It’s not just you, everybody else is doing it too: checking out online reviews before deciding what restaurant to eat at, what technology gadget to buy, or even what dog-grooming service to use.
Just two weeks ago, I came across the arduous task of purchasing a new screen cover for my phone. Thanks to Amazon, I had a million different brands, installation kits, and screen materials to choose from. My difficult decision was made easy by star-ratings and a quick glance at a few product reviews.
Consumers depend heavily on online reviews when making purchase decisions for just about everything. In fact, approximately 90% of consumers check out reviews of a product or company before making a purchase. 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as they trust a personal recommendation.
We’ve established that reviews are crucial to bringing in new business (if you need more convincing, check out this infographic), but collecting online reviews isn’t always easy. That’s why there are companies like Shopper Approved that offer services to assist in collecting reviews for e-commerce companies.
Surprisingly, in some circles, there’s a negative stigma behind paying companies to collect reviews from its customers. In reality, soliciting reviews is one of the best actions you can possibly take to improve your business and increase your bottom line.
Here are three myths about soliciting online reviews that we would like to put to rest.
Myth #1: Solicited reviews are fake
False! While some companies that collect reviews for clients will allow anyone to leave reviews (known as passive reviews), there are a few companies, like Shopper Approved, that will only allow active reviews to be collected. This means that the software will only ask for and collect reviews from consumers that they can verify have purchased your product or service. (Read more about active and passive reviews here). It isn’t an open link available to the public for anyone to use – it’s customized specifically to your consumer, and those reviews are as real and honest as it gets.
Ironically, sometimes passive (non-solicited) reviews are seen as more trustworthy than active (solicited) reviews, but in reality, passive reviews are much more likely to be negatively skewed than active reviews due to the fact that the majority of consumers won’t go out of their way to leave a positive review. This fact alone makes solicited reviews much more credible and accurate.
Myth #2: Solicited reviews are biased to be positive
Wrong! People that think this are mistaking solicited reviews for incentivized reviews, something Amazon has recently taken a stand against.
As long as there are no incentives offered to the consumer to give a rating or provide feedback about a product or purchase experience, there’s no reason for the consumer to be biased in a positive or negative way.
Companies like Shopper Approved integrate their review technology directly into your purchase process. This ensures that every customer gets an equal opportunity to leave a rating and review, regardless of their experience. This means that the companies overall rating will be as accurate as possible.
Some people are skeptical because they see the reviews of companies that use a 3rd party review service with a higher star-rating than companies that don’t. Don’t worry, these reviews are legitimate, and are actually more accurate than companies that don’t actively collect reviews.
Think about it. If you have a negative experience, you’re more likely to go out of your way to leave a bad review. Even if the company didn’t ask for a review. When soliciting for reviews, you’re asking every customer for their opinion, so you’re getting both the good and the bad. The good experiences tend to naturally outweigh the bad for most companies. So when you’re asking for reviews from a higher volume of your customer-base, your ratings will reflect that.
Myth #3: Solicited reviews don’t show up in popular search engines like Google
Definitely false. The purpose of soliciting reviews is so your reviews show up where they can be easily seen by consumers. It’s crucial that your reviews not only show up on your website, but that they also have a presence on major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Reviews collected with a credible software company are directly syndicated to these major search engines, and show up in PPC ads. This is also helping to significantly increase your traffic and click-through rates.
There are, however, several rating and review websites that do not have syndication agreements with the major search engines, and therefore, do not syndicate your reviews. So, before you sign up for any rating or review services, make sure you find out if they have syndication agreements in place, otherwise you may as well be collecting reviews on an island.
The Truth: Solicited reviews are the #1 way to collect reviews for your business
The truth is that consumers are incredibly dependent on online reviews when making a purchase, and they are becoming more dependent all the time. Remember, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.
What does that mean? It means that if your company has more reviews than your competitor, then you are more likely to attract more buyers – especially if those reviews are from a trusted source. These reviews accurately reflect your customer’s experiences with your company and will have a significant impact on traffic and sales – much more than any passive approach will ever have.
The bottom line, is that a higher number of unbiased, solicited reviews typically correlates to a naturally higher, more accurate star-rating and a more credible online presence for your business.
Bonus Perk: Having on-site reviews can increase your organic search engine ranking because of the unique content that is added by each new reviewer. This, combined with off-site reviews on 3rd party review sites, and various syndication channels helps to increase your online reputation and presence in multiple locations. More reviews in more locations = more traffic and more sales!