Customers who leave reviews play a crucial role in modern digital marketing. Today’s consumer doesn’t trust businesses that lack detailed consumer feedback on Yelp or Google. A string of positive reviews can provide a real boost in clientele and profits, so it’s easy to see why entrepreneurs constantly seek input from satisfied customers.
Unfortunately, reviews represent the ultimate marketing double-edged sword. Yes, they’re essential, but they can also be risky. Some might argue that a few negative responses are better than no reviews at all. However, an influx of negative feedback can cause real problems for your business.
While reviews lend you less control than digital strategies such as blog content and email newsletters, it’s still possible to shape the narrative — to an extent. First, however, it’s important to understand what, exactly compels customers who leave reviews to take action and why some types of customers are more likely to provide feedback than others. We delve into these considerations below:
Reading Versus Writing Reviews
The vast majority of internet users incorporate reviews in their digital experience at least to some extent. Data from BrightLocal reveals that 82 percent of consumers look to reviews for insight, with the average person reading at least ten reviews before establishing a sense of trust for a particular organization.
The main difference between reading and writing reviews? The perceived effort. Customers automatically read reviews the moment they consider visiting or purchasing a product or service from a business, as they believe that the reward of a positive experience will be worth the minimal effort it takes to scan a few entries on Yelp or Google.
Writing reviews, however, requires a bit more thought and effort. It’s not an ingrained habit for most customers, so they won’t take the time to share their thoughts unless their experience stands out in some way.
Encouragement from Businesses
It takes an especially opinionated customer to leave an unsolicited review, but those who rarely provide feedback unprompted are often happy to share their opinions when asked. They simply need a little encouragement. Without a targeted request, customers may assume that their feedback just doesn’t matter enough to warrant the extra effort of compiling their thoughts and writing about their experience.
While some business owners find it difficult to reach out and request reviews, many are relieved to discover that they don’t need to go out of their way to offer incentives in return for this feedback. This is verified by the aforementioned BrightLocal study, in which 67 percent of consumers claim to have been asked to leave reviews.
Only a small share of these individuals admit to being offered incentives such as gifts or discounts. Despite often receiving nothing in return for their input, 76 percent of those asked by businesses to provide reviews do so voluntarily.
The data proves that asking for reviews can be an effective strategy for many types of customers, but it’s not equally prudent for every website. Yelp, for example, discourages requested reviews. As the website’s support center explains, its recommendation software is “designed to highlight reviews from people inspired to share their experiences with the community.” On Google, however, review requests can pay dividends, so long as it’s clear that a diverse spectrum of opinions is allowed. Requested reviews are especially effective on Facebook, which also boasts the highest star rating on average.
Customers Who Leave Reviews Mostly Share Positive Experiences
Entrepreneurs often neglect to promote reviews for fear that they’ll receive a significant amount of negative feedback. In reality, however, most customers prefer to share positive experiences online.
Data from BrightLocal shows that, while 60 percent of internet users have left reviews following positive brand interactions, a mere 25 percent have turned to negative reviews to vent their frustration. Often, the same customers who will quickly provide feedback if even modestly pleased with their experience will not respond with a negative review unless they are genuinely angered or upset by the businesses they frequent.
Review-Inclined Customers Respond to Emotional Experiences
While customers are generally more interested in leaving positive feedback, their follow-through is largely shaped by the emotional aspects of their experience. A generally positive but routine interaction is unlikely to elicit input even from those who mean well, simply because it doesn’t stand out.
If their visit or purchase sparks uniquely strong emotions, some customers will go out of their way to leave reviews. This is most likely to occur if they’re impressed by the qualities that matter most to them. For example, customers who genuinely care about service quality are more likely to respond to especially caring or empathetic employees. They’re less inclined to reach out if pleased by elements such as price or convenience, which may not matter as much to them. For this reason, it’s important to determine which elements mean the most to targeted customers — and how these qualities can be played up.
The Desire for Human Connection
No matter whether they’re prompted by positive or negative experiences — or actively sought by businesses — reviews highlight the human need for connection. Increasingly, customers seek to form a sense of community with others who follow their preferred brands. Beyond following their favorite companies on social media or subscribing to email newsletters, they can tap into this desire by leaving reviews. They take pleasure in knowing that the story of their experience will influence future customers.
The need for connection manifests a bit differently with negative reviewers. Often, these individuals seek emotional release, made possible by venting their frustrations online. They hope to communicate with potential customers through their reviews, of course, but many also believe that their feedback will reach business owners, and hopefully, spur change.
Level Up Your Reputation Management Strategy with Vinci Digital
A little encouragement can make a world of difference for your reputation management strategy. Don’t miss out on the benefits of online reviews for fear of the occasional negative response. You may be surprised to discover that most of your customers who leave reviews are happy to let internet users know about their positive experiences. This is your opportunity to build a strong impression among future customers as they seek perspectives beyond those included in your digital marketing content.
As you determine the role reviews will play in your content marketing or social media strategy, look to Vinci Digital for guidance. We can help you take control of the digital narrative to drive a positive brand perception among both potential and existing customers. Contact us at your earliest convenience to learn more about our reputation management services.
PS: Have you noticed any trends related to the people who leave reviews? What happened when you requested that customers submit feedback? Leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts.