Your product or service is totally awesome, completely stellar, and everyone who interacts with your brand becomes an immediate advocate. Obviously you love to hear all of this amazing feedback, as you sit in your office. But are your leads and other possible customers being exposed to these amazing reviews? Are you collecting these reviews and stories in a strategic way to repurpose for the benefit of your company? If not, you really should be.
Studies show that a recommendation carries weight for customers and are sometimes even more important than price or the brand name itself.
Taking the conversation to online outlets, Nielsen reports that 70 percent of consumers trust earned media (online recommendations, comments, reviews) posted online, and 50 percent trust information sent in emails from the brand -- much higher percentages than any form of advertisement.
How to gather reviews
So, now you know customers want this information, but how do you get it? From text stories, to photos of a product being used, to testimonial videos -- there are many forms reviews can take, but the key is figuring out what collection method is the most appropriate for attracting the type of reviews you are looking for:
Polls or questions
Something as simple as an open ended Facebook question, or asking your online audience to vote on what they like most about your brand, can lead to collecting an abundance of reviews.
Since users aren't as apt to write incredibly long or detailed reviews in the form of a social media comment, hosting a contest that has a small incentive can encourage people to expand on why they love a brand. Incentivizing reviews also allows you to get content that would typically have a higher participation barrier for your audience. Launching a photo contest, or asking users to upload a testimonial video, is likely to be more successful when there is a prize at stake.
If you sell a physical product, you likely have a review section on your website (and if you don't, you need one ASAP!). Look at these reviews to collect useful feedback from your customers.
Social listening can be as basic as searching your brand name in Twitter or a relevant hashtag and gathering feedback, to a more sophisticated program in which all mentions of your brand across the Internet are tracked.
How to use reviews
Now that you have all of these reviews, how are you going to use them? There are studies all across the web espousing the benefits of positive consumer reviews on possible buyers, in different contexts. Never fear -- we have highlighted a few of our favorite best practices below, so that you don't need to dig them up on your own.
Consumers want to read your blog -- in fact, 46 percent of consumers say they read the blogs of their favorite brands -- so if you have amazing reviews on a brand new product, wouldn't you want your already loyal audience base to see those?
If you take another look at that chart you just scanned past, you can see that 25 percent of consumers indicate that they seek out social media sites for information and content about a brand. If you already have a solid base of fans, why not turn them into brand ambassadors? They've already told you how much they love your product (remember, you asked them in a status update!), now get their help in extending the reach of reviews by sharing it to their personal online networks. Take short yet powerful quotes from your customers that you received through contests, on your social media properties, or through customer reviews; and turn them into sharable images you can use across your social sites.
Features on website/product page
We're not just talking about the review section that people have to scroll down to read, but instead highlighting a review at the top of a page, above the fold, where people can easily see and read. Customers are actively searching for reviews, so make accessing these reviews easy for them.
Feature in emails
Including relevant videos in emails to targeted lists as part of lifecycle messaging can increase time spent viewing the email, click through rates, and email sharing. Consider including a small customer review module in emails that either extols the brand, or a product that is also featured in the email content.
How are you gathering and using customer reviews?
Blake Del Hoyo is a social media specialist at Red Door Interactive.
On Twitter? Follow Del Hoyo at @blakedelhoyo and iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.