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Reviews: what can you achieve with them and what effect do they have?

Are you having dinner tonight, but are you still in doubt about choosing a restaurant? Chances are you’ll check the internet to get an idea of what’s on offer and be influenced by the ratings.

You’re not the only one: several studies show that 70 to 90 percent of people are influenced by the online opinions of others when making (purchasing) decisions. For entrepreneurs, these reviews are interesting to measure and increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

There are different platforms where people can give their opinion. Think of social media channels, blogs, and forums. On these channels, people often ‘spontaneously’ give their opinion about a product or service. Of course, you can also use social media and blogs to actively collect user experiences, for example by using influencer marketing. With influencer marketing, you bring your brand to the attention of a specific target group, and you respond to important influencing principles.

The opinions of others, especially influencers, are based on the principle of social affirmation. People want to be confirmed that they have made the right choice: “If so many people are enthusiastic about this restaurant, then it has to be good”. Showing a quality mark on your website (the recognitions of an expert) can also persuade people to make a purchase. This principle, authority, responds to the trust of a customer.

Collecting internally versus externally

If you consciously start collecting customer reviews, you can choose to have them hosted by an external party or on your own website. Some external parties are Feedback Company, WebwinkelKeur, Kiyoh, and Trustpilot. Collecting reviews on external sites creates trust. These organizations are independent so that consumers are more likely to take the reviews for granted.

Through social media channels, you can ask your customers to leave a review, by writing a message or giving a star rating. Following or licking an organization on social media shows that a customer is a ‘fan’. The customer has sympathy for the organization, which can also be seen as a positive review. However, research shows that an explicit recommendation (written review) has more persuasiveness than alike. Consumers expect that a customer who leaves a positive review is more positive about the organization or the product than if they would like it. Also, a customer who leaves a positive review has more expertise according to consumers, than when they give alike.

The advantage of collecting reviews internally is that you create ‘user-generated content’ on your own website. Because content is added regularly, this has a positive effect on your organic findability in search engines. However, placing reviews yourself may seem less reliable, especially if there are only a few of them, because you can influence them. The more reviews are placed on your website, the more convincing they are.

Product level versus organization level

If you have a webshop, you can collect reviews on two levels. First, focus on collecting reviews about your organization: customer service, ordering process, delivery, accessibility, etc. If you receive a lot of reviews about your organization, you can also ask for reviews at the product level. Besides asking for product reviews, you can also test products yourself. Coolblue does this smartly. They highlight certain products and give them the label ‘Coolblue’s choice’. As you can see in the picture, Coolblue explains who the camera is suitable for and even lets a product specialist talk about it in a video. This is where Cialdini’s principle of ‘authority’ comes into play again.

Positive versus negative

No matter how hard you are willing to run for your customers, negative reviews are almost inevitable. And this is not a problem at all! In fact, negative reviews can even have a positive effect. Consumers who feel very connected and identify with a brand, called ‘Self Brand Connection’, feel personally attacked when ‘their’ brand is rated negatively. They will try to defend the brand by, for example, repeating positive characteristics of the brand, negating negative points and showing the evaluator a negative image.

Having both positive and negative ratings increases the credibility of the ratings. There is little chance that all your customers will be 100 percent satisfied. In addition, consumers sometimes take negative reviews with a pinch of salt; the point of criticism can be relevant for one and not for the other.

If you get a negative rating, respond to it. Actively use the feedback. Try to mitigate the negative experience; a customer wants to be heard and taken seriously. In this way, you may be able to turn this customer into a returning visitor.

The effect of star ratings

On many platforms, a star is used to express the level of rating; 1 star is a very poor rating and 5 stars a very good one. It is expected that a high rating will have a positive effect on sales. However, this is not quite the case. Research shows that an assessment between 4.2 and 4.5 stars has a positive effect on sales, while an assessment of more than 4.5 stars leads to less sales. Here, too, a perfect 5-star rating encourages suspicion.

Ask for reviews!

People with a negative experience share this more on their own than people who are satisfied. Satisfied customers are less likely to make an effort to post a review and need extra motivation. For loyal customers, giving an extra push works well. When they get the message that a brand can use their online support well, they take action faster than loyal customers who haven’t received the message

So go actively to collect those positive experiences and set something in return (such as a discount coupon). You can do this both digitally and physically. Coolblue uses this very creatively in their packaging. Use marketing automation to approach your customers after they have received your product or use your service.

What do you want to know?

Are there any specific points on which you would like to get feedback? Then include them in your reviews. Concrete questions also make it easier for the customer to fill in a review.