In a business world that is becoming more and more integrated with the Internet, the shopping habits of everyday customers are changing as well. Studies continue to show a rise in users that not only purchase from online websites or marketplaces, but who also research a product or service online before buying it in a physical, traditional store. Because of this new trend of online brand research, customers rely more than ever on testimonials and product reviews from previous customers of a company’s offering.
Examine your Web presence, whether it is the official company website, social media site, or review site, and see how positive your online reputation is, because it could be more important than you think. There are three types of reviews that could exist online for your brand, each with their own advantages and disadvantages relating to your company’s reputation:
Customer testimonials are the most common type of company review for businesses because they are relatively easy to produce and easy to control. These are usually found on the company website in its own section, and are not usually anything more than a direct quote from a customer, such as: “By using Product X for my problem, I’ve been able to get so much more accomplished! Company X was so helpful!”
These are a good way to instill confidence in any potential customers that visit your website. The downside of this type of review is that it is not as trustworthy as one that a customer wrote and provided themselves. Since the website has its own section dedicated to positive testimonials, it is unlikely that a company would ever include a negative review. Also, it is only seen by the limited audience of a customer that visits your website.
Reviews on the Company Website
This is something a business has slightly less control over, but tends to be more trustworthy in the customers’ view. This is a technique generally employed when you have an online store that customers can purchase products directly from the website. If you allow a way for your customers to provide reviews on specific products, and showcase these reviews alongside the product on the online store, you can further influence your customers, and hopefully increase conversions.
These reviews are typically a rating out of 5 stars, and providing additional comments if desired. These are more trustworthy in the consumer’s mind because they know they were written and provided by a fellow shopper, and not your company’s marketing department. The danger, of course, is that you are unable to control negative reviews from coming in. The best thing you can do in this situation is to respond to them and attempt to remedy the situation.
Reviews on Third-Party Websites
This is the option that a business has the least amount of control over. Websites such as Yelp or Google Places allow users to rate and discuss local businesses. Even if a business doesn’t have any kind of Web presence, their online reputation could still be forming on these websites. The advantage here, of course, is that users will put a lot of trust in these ratings, so if you have positive reviews for your business, you have a good chance of winning new business.
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