The proof is in the pudding as the saying goes. What that expression means is that you have to try a food to know whether it’s any good. However, if you haven’t tried the food yet, the next best thing is for someone you know to try it out and tell you what they think. This is known as social proof. Why am I telling you this? Because in the world of ecommerce, social proof can make or break your business.
Social proof in ecommerce is the idea that customers now validate or invalidate the value of potential purchases for other customers. The customer review is the leading source of social proof online. While it may take time and effort to build legitimate social proof, it’s worth it.
Let Your Customers Do the Selling
Hundreds of recent studies show the hugely influential role that customer reviews and testimonials play in encouraging shoppers to buy new products and services. People tend to distrust what a company says about their own products or services, and they generally don’t put much stock in advertising, either. However, they do listen to other people like themselves. According to a Nielson study, 92 percent of consumers worldwide report that they trust word-of-mouth recommendations above all other forms of advertising.
Why Google Loves Reviews
Some SEO experts say that the more reviews you have, especially on authoritative, third-party review sites, the more visibility your ecommerce store listing will have on the Internet. Additionally, customer reviews on your ecommerce site itself provide fresh, unique content. As you probably know, Google loves fresh content. Since customers voluntarily contribute reviews at no cost per word, reviews are a very cost-effective way to generate new content. To top it off, customer reviews are written using natural language that is likely to match what potential customers are searching for, providing you with delicious user-generated long tail keywords.
How to Get More Reviews
To maximize the number of reviews you get, you need to have a strategy for funneling customers to post reviews.
This should include:
- Asking and reminding your customers to share their experience in a review.
- Having a way to drive customers to a destination that will encourage them to leave that review.
- Finding a way to guide each reviewer to select the best possible review site to post on (or on your own website).
- Considering offering an incentive for reviews, such as a coupon or entry in a contest.
- Providing reminders to leave a review when a customer revisits your site.
No Such Thing as a Bad Review?
People post more positive reviews than negative ones. That said, negative reviews mixed in with positive ones aren’t such a bad thing. They give more credibility to the reviews that are there and demonstrate that the company isn’t purposely filtering out negative reviews.
As long as negative reviews are written respectfully and don’t include offensive content, let them stay on your site. What one customer may be complaining about might be a feature that isn’t relevant to the customer who is now considering making a purchase. It may also help to remember that a recent study found that it’s the most devoted customers who complain the most in online reviews because they want to help get the companies they like back on track. If they didn’t care about the company, they wouldn’t bother.
Why Not Fake It?
Most online shoppers can quickly spot fake reviews, and the presence of fake reviews can damage the credibility of a company. Furthermore, some online review sites, such as Amazon and eBay, police reviews looking for ones that appear to be fake, and they will publicly call out a company for posting them. You can’t fake social proof, as tempting as it may seem.
Taking the time to encourage customers to leave reviews can pay off for ecommerce stores. Reviews not only help guide customers to find the products that are the best match for their needs, they contribute to establishing the trust that encourages purchases. Reviews also bring more customers to your site by enhancing its visibility on the Web. By leveraging the power of social proof, you can greatly increase your profits.