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Online reviews have become a way of life when buying online. If you’re booking a hotel, trying to find a new restaurant, or buying a new camera you’re likely to have read a few online reviews before. Having those key front-facing reviews drives sales, which is why you should be asking for reviews.

Word of mouth is important increasing revenue.

80 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation according to a study by Brightlocal.

A study by the Harvard Business School, found that restaurants that were well reviewed on Yelp had an increase in revenue compared to those that weren’t well reviewed.

Should I ask for reviews and comments for my tutorials, ebooks, services or other products? Yes. You probably should be.

Benefits of collecting reviews

Reviews can become powerful sources of social proof that persuade prospective customers to buy.

Genuine positive reviews encourage customers to look at you as someone they can trust.

Reviews are perfect for helping prospective customers imagine themselves using your product.

More reasons that online reviews benefit selling online

63% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a site if the product has ratings and reviews (source)
67% of consumers read 6 reviews or less before making a purchase (MarketingProfs)
70% of customers consult reviews or ratings before making a purchase (PeopleClaim)

Why are reviews important

This is why reviews are important.

People’s purchasing is typically affected by a combination of three things, called the influence mix (according to the Harvard Business Review).

Preferences, beliefs and experiences (known as P)
Input from other people (known as O)
Packaging, brand, pricing information (known as M)

The greater the reliance on any one source will lower the importance of the other two factors.

The influence mix varies for different products. The sources P or M are likely to be more important if buying say a packet of biscuits, which is a regular purchase. When buying something like a book or tutorial course, a more personal infrequent purchase, the person is more likely to pay attention to what previous customers have said, and O becomes more important.

Look at the success of the iPhone – early users gushed over it, and it almost becomes like an iPhone cult.

30 percent of US consumers say they begin their online purchase research by going to Amazon for product information and reviews.

Don’t let the fear of receiving a negative review stop you from asking for reviews

If you have a good product or service that buyers appreciate, the benefits of reviews far exceed the downside of the odd negative review.

But:

What should I do if I get a negative review?

First, stay calm, it’s important not to respond while you’re upset. When working at an online business directory similar to Yelp I spoke to hundreds of business owners who had received a negative review. Many of them contacted us very angry and upset about the review. Understandably, business owners take any negative reviews very personally.

Second, don’t worry if you do get a negative review. Prospective customers are developing a good sense of filtering genuine reviews. If you respond quickly and constructively to a negative review this can be seen positively by other potential customers.

How to start collecting customer reviews

You need to encourage your customers to leave a review and to be part of your community, to share your passion.

Make leaving a review quick and easy as sending a text. Registering for a site before leaving a review can be a big turnoff.

You can reward customers for leaving a review. Try offering a discount coupon for the best review of the month.

Tools for collecting reviews

Here are some of the tools you can use to make it easy to collect reviews.
Yotpo

Yotpo is an easy way for customers to leave product reviews. Yotpo is a plug and play social reviews solution for eCommerce sites. With Yotpo customers can read and write reviews using one system across multiple sites. Yotpo has gathered thousands of reviews across its review platform.
Disqus

Disqus gives you the tools to help you build a community of active commenters. It gives your customers a voice and a great tool for easily collecting and displaying customer testimonials and reviews for your products. Disqus is on almost 3 million websites, and has over 20 million comments posted every month.

Email marketing is an excellent way to follow up with customers who have recently purchased from you. You can send an automated email to each customer and prompt them to leave a review.

These apps are a great way to engage your customers and to boost revenue.

Summary

Word of mouth recommendations offline and online are the most important source of new sales. Reviews are a powerful influence on prospective customers, and if used effectively can help you boost your sales.

Do you currently use reviews on your site? Let us know in the comments your experience of online reviews.

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About the author

Geoff Austin

I talk and write a lot. Some of it about ecommerce, selling online, startups, SEO, digital marketing.

Currently, head of analytics for an automotive business in Sydney, facilitating a culture of data-driven decisions. Delivering data-based insights and intelligence.

Chauffeur to twin daughters and a pizza chef master.