The Impact of Online Reviews on Customer Decisions

91% of people trust online consumer reviews

You can easily find plenty of tools and strategies that help your business take the next step in its development and have influences on consumer behavior. They promise to increase your sales and profit, attract new customers, save time and money. However, these new tools frequently require much time and investment. But let’s leave big decisions aside for now and go micro. Everyone knows what online customer review is. If somebody told you, there is a simple way that could help:

  • Turn a passive shopper into a lifelong buyer
  • Let you be more effective in today’s business world
  • Build trust in a brand

Would you be interested? Well, according to the BrightLocal survey, an overwhelming 86% of customers read online reviews before making a buying decision. This simple marketing tool may have a huge impact on customer’s behavior – both positive and negative. Let’s find out more about the online review and the best ways to receive it from your customers.

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Local Consumer Review Survey 2018: Source

Consumer Reviews and Their Influence on Buying Behavior

Online product reviews affect purchasing behavior a lot. The importance of a review, and how often customers rely on it varies depending on what you sell. 31% of customers are interested in grocery shop review while 60% are likely to read a restaurant review and 70% of consumers need technology product, gadget etc., ones.

If you receive lots of feedback and lose a part of it, use Yotpo. It helps organizations generate plenty of reviews and manage them effectively. Collect Instagram photos from customers, influencers and your own feed and use those reviews to generate qualified traffic, boost sales and conversion.

Business owners have to pay a great deal of attention to the feedback and read reviews to understand consumers’ needs. For example, people frequently express their sympathy leaving positive feedback or give a hint what would make them buy again. Here is more regarding three main groups of factors that have influence over consumer purchase decision – personal preferences, psychological and social factors.

Let Your Customers Fall in Love with Your Company

Personal preferences that affect buying decisions include age, gender, race, level of involvement etc. The level of involvement plays a great role in the process of making buying decisions. Customers frequently form an emotional attitude to the product and express it in the reviews.

The feeling of “falling in love” with some goods is not a rarity even if the product is not practical. A lack of online consumer reviews tells two things about your business – either you don’t sell enough to get the review or you’re not confident enough to allow your customers to leave feedback. More weigh is put on the online reviews if customer’s investment is serious. Spiegel Research Center has reported that displaying reviews for higher-priced products can increase conversion rates by 380%.

As to the age, a recent study has shown that younger adults are less influenced by negative reviews in comparison to older consumers. Young people prefer products with better attributes and with higher average consumer ratings while older ones might be influenced by a single affect-rich negative review.

Because You’re Worth and Need It

The process of making a purchase decision has several stages: problem recognition, a search for the information, assessment of alternatives, the purchase, after purchase assessment. Every stage is closely connected to psychological factors as most of the marketing activities are aimed at appealing to the desired state of a customer. For example, this famous L’Oréal’s phrase “Because you’re worth it”. The phrase created by Ilon Specht in 1973 was all about what women thought influenced by social revolution and a new wave of feminism. The aspiration to make a purchase leads to motivation. Motivation in itself pushes people to take action. And a good review is a good stimulus for motivation.

Consumers Believe Other Consumers

Social influences on consumer buying decisions are most likely to help in developing your business. Every human is a member of a certain community. We all have heard a lot about the reference groups: primary, secondary, desired, formal and the like. People love reading reviews of their peers, people with shared views and needs. For example, if you sell cars, your potential customers will be very interested in other drivers’ opinion.

A recent study on Social Reference Group Influence on Women Buying Behavior by Symbiosis International University revealed that woman purchased luxury products more often being influenced by positive reviews. They observed purchasing behavior of housewives and working woman. Housewives rely both on husband’s opinion and informational influence while the working woman is primarily affected by informational influence. As you can see, reviews are playing a great role in the consumer decision making model.

Thus, use review communities like Trustpilot to build trust and transparency between customers and your business. The service collects the feedback, gives the customers information they need, increases conversion rates and helps your site stand out in organic search.

Customers Are Evaluating Their Alternatives

How does it all enhance the importance of online reviews? The answer is simple. People love reading someone else’s opinion and make the assessment of whether the purchase was successful for these buyers or not. Customers believe reviews as much as personal recommendations. 94% reported an online review had convinced them to avoid the purchase. Quite often people compare two brands in their reviews, which also is either beneficial or harmful for business.

Every customer assessed three things: how fair, perfect and expected the product is. It means they want to know how the goods will be looking and serving. Interestingly, but this is what people usually share in their reviews. They tell about what their expectations are and how a product fulfills them. Therefore, the effects of the post purchase behavior affect those that are just at the first stage of the buying process.

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The Value of Positive and Negative Reviews

A positive reputation is one of the most powerful marketing assets a business has to attract new customers. Therefore, positive online reviews influence purchasing behavior a lot. Online reviews statistics report that 68% of Americans say positive reviews are making them more likely to use a business. Yet not every feedback is good.

How do you convert negative image to positive online reputation if you receive too many bad reviews? First, make sure your products and services deserve better feedback. The problem might be in the quality of both. Second, learn to response to any customer’s comment correctly.

How Do I Response to a Positive Review?

Many managers are confused at this point. ‘Should I response to a positive review and why?’ Yes, responding really worth it. In fact, 53% of customers expect you to reply to their online feedback within seven days. Positive online business reviews are not necessarily all five stars. In fact, products in the 4.2-4.7 range are more likely to be purchased rather than those in 4.7-5.0 range. Higher ratings frequently make customers think “too good to be true”.

In addition, it is such a great chance to help your SEO blossom and improve click-through rates up to 20%. Simply place a review in your page’s Meta description to draw a potential customers’ attention before they ever get on your page.

What to Do with Negative Feedback

According to BrightLocal survey, 89% of consumers read the responses of businesses’ representatives, and many companies think negative comments impact business adversely. The truth is that a negative review is as important for sales and conversion as a five-star rating. If you don’t have a single unsatisfied customer, others may think your positive reviews are fake. Others apply to both customers and conversion rate. In addition, it is a great source of opportunities to demonstrate that your customer service works well. Your immediate responses and actions taken to correct the issue will show potential clients that you truly care about their opinion.

Once you noticed a couple of frustrated customers, don’t let them think you’re sweeping their problems under the rug. Show your empathy and willingness to apologize and fix the issue.

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Where Should My Customers Leave a Review?

Consumer reviews started out on Google Local, Yelp, Yahoo, and some others sites. Now there is a much wider choice, and you can incorporate reviews onto your own business website or social media profiles. They are available everywhere you go on the web. No matter where your customers choose to leave their reviews, they will work in your favor.

Top online review sites today are Google My Business, Facebook, Amazon, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Yellow Pages, BBB, Manta, Foursquare, etc. Among online ratings and reviews websites, Google reviews for business still have paramount importance. However, Bazaarvoice seems to be popular in 2019. This product review platform helps you reach and engage consumers, increases sales for 65% in revenue per visit and improves conversion for 52% with ratings and reviews.

Finally, there left no doubts that customer decision making process is significantly influenced by customers’ reviews. Any business has to receive both positive and negative feedback to know precisely its strong and weak sides. In addition, it’s such a great investment in the success of your business.

About the author:

Alice_BergAlice Berg is a career advisor at Skillroads, who is strongly interested in progressive technologies. She helps people to find their own way in life, gives career advice and guidance, helps young people to prepare for their careers. You can find Alice on Twitter and Medium.