Customer Reviews that Convert

Helping Satisfied Customers Share Your Story Effectively

Thanks to Amazon and online shopping in general, reviews matter - for everything. Hopefully this is self-evident if you are computer savvy enough to be reading this article. Just to drive home the point, though, the Spiegel Research Center found that displaying review can increase conversion by 270%, and that having five reviews increase purchase likelihood by almost 400%. I could go on, but feel free to Google this if you have any doubts. Reviews take away risk by giving site visitors the assurance that others have gone before them, The thought process is that if you were able to help the person giving the review, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to help them. Being the first to do anything is inherently risky; there is no precedent, so there can be no sure system to guarantee a desired result.

You want your reviews to be specific, sincere, and short. These may seem like competing elements, but let's briefly break down each:

// Specific //

Whatever your solution is – you want reviews to reflect that you delivered on that promised value. A review saying you were nice or that everything worked isn’t bad, but site visitors are looking to your review to validate what you promised in the problem and solution pitch in your website. To ensure that you receive the feedback you want, you can suggest feedback by sending a customer satisfaction survey after you create value and asking customers if they felt you achieved whatever specific value you promised to deliver. Then, if their answer is positive, ask them to write a review about how that promised value was helpful. If you know the client well, you could even send a few variations of a review you want and ask for permission to put their name on one of the variations or have them tweak what you sent, just to make things easier on them.

// Sincere //

We can all feel the sense of skepticism around reviews that seem too perfect or general. Adding specificity can help, but encouraging a client to mention some of the challenges of the project and how you overcame them is powerful. Of course, don’t post a review from a client who was not happy in the end, but no one can relate to perfection, and no one expects every project to go flawlessly from start to finish. Showing honesty in the challenges and how you overcame them gives reviews sincerity to validate their positive remarks. In fact, G2 Crowd and Heinz Marketing found that 67% of B2B buyers want to see a mix of positive and negative reviews.

Timing also counts in sincerity. Research has shown that 28% of site visitors feel a review needs to be written within the past week to be considered relevant. Of course, the nature of your industry influences whether or not you should include the time a review was written, but if you have at least 3 positive reviews written a week, timing can add an element of relevance and sincerity.

// Short //

How do you include enough content for a review to be both sincere and specific, while still maintaining brevity? A great method is to include a full review and then put in bold the most important text that you want site visitors to read. If they want the context, they can then read the non-bolded text. You could also put periods of ellipses (AKA "...") in between less critical parts of a review, with a link to read the full review if site visitors are interested.

// Addendum //

// How to Get Reviews //

You can incentivize reviews by giving satisfied customers discounts on future services/products, an added service/product, or the chance to win a big prize. However, if you’re providing an extraordinary product/service to go with your extraordinary website, your customers should be more than willing to leave you a review if you simply ask.

// How Many Reviews? //

As you accumulate reviews, the question will become how many to post, and how long to keep them posted. While some may disagree, I would say that the more the merrier – on a page designated for reviews. No one will likely read 100 reviews, but they may scroll through them and pick out one in ten to read. If you are considering working with two different businesses, and both have a few reviews displayed on the home page, but one has a whole database available to peruse, which will feel safer? Putting all your reviews on your home page will slow it down, and I don’t need to remind you how important site page speed is, so put 5-10 on your home page in a scrolling format, and then as you collect more reviews feature the most recent on the home page and move the older reviews to the review page.

// Video Reviews //

Video reviews are also becoming increasingly popular, where satisfied clients share their experiences in a more long-form manner. If you can afford a quality video production team (as in budget at least $1,500 to do this well), then a video of clients making eye contact with the camera and sincerely expressing their gratitude is digital gold. While specific statistics differ, the consensus is clear that people remember video more than text because there is so much more context to grasp with intonations of the voice, expressions of the face, music, etc. And while studies show that the majority of both B2B and B2C site visitors would prefer watching a video to reading text, not all your site visitors will be in a place to listen to a video when they look at your site. Hence, providing reviews side-by-side with a video makes a powerful combination.

// Association with Recognized Brands //

If you have worked with recognizable brands, such as Fortune 500’s or a celebrity or leader in your industry, including the company’s logo or individual’s name should supplement and can even replace reviews. Just like how you could be guilty by association in elementary school if your friends were suspected of misbehavior, you can be credible by association: if you’re a marketing agency that is good enough for Coca-Cola to work with, you’re probably good enough for any other company. If you have only worked with one or two recognizable brands, still go for the written review approach, and be sure to put the company name with the individual who gave the review. Three or more is perceived as a list and can warrant its own section of your website. When uploading logos or names, ask the organizations you have worked with for a matching solid color logo that goes with the color scheme of your site, normally a white or grey works well. Associations are powerful. That’s why if you’ve been around business pitch competitions founders always explain themselves as “the uber of” their industry, or “like AirBNB but for __________.” Connecting your reputation to that of someone else allows you to borrow their experience and credibility in the mind of your site visitor. Just be sure to get permission first!

Reviews are increasingly becoming an essential part of your business. Even if you have to do work for free at first to build up some great reviews, the peace of mind that customer feedback gives potential customers is worth more than any marketing campaign where you're telling your market how great you are.

To learn more about how to curate great customer reviews and build an extraordinary web presence, we would love to start a conversation.