Why are Customer Reviews the New Content Marketing?
Put yourself in the shoes of your customers for a minute, and try to envision their buying process…
When choosing a store to shop at, what will make them select yours over the many other similar options available? Beyond price, location, product, service, etc., what do you think they will ultimately care about most?
Letting Customers Toot Your Horn is More Effective Than Doing it Yourself
Your website might hint at how amazing you are, but will potential customers believe it? According to Convince & Convert:
“The balance of power in marketing is shifting away from companies tooting their own horn, and toward customers doing the tooting, via user-generated content (UGC), online reviews, and influencer marketing.”
As the quote above points out, people trust each other more than they trust businesses. Because of this, customer reviews can be a key differentiator when it comes to choosing a store to shop at.
In fact, Pew Research indicates that more than half of all adults now consult customer reviews before making a purchase.
Consumers crave authenticity, which is in short supply in the marketing world. Even TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden said that trust in marketing is at risk. And statistics echo this sentiment. Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer indicates a general lack of credibility for businesses, and a HubSpot poll discovered that “marketer” is thought to be among the least trustworthy professions because they are perceived to have calculated agendas and motives.
“Even the most well crafted and relatable content is inevitably viewed through a certain lens when it comes from a brand. Developing a genuine rapport with your audience takes time, and even then, there’s an inherent recognition that any public-facing message from a company is strategic and carefully positioned.”
Consumer reviews and other user-generated content offer a method to overcome this disconnect, by amplifying the voices of real people and actual customers. If you’re going for authenticity in your content marketing, there’s nothing better.
People are also much more likely to trust content from a company they already buy from than one they don’t (60% vs. 31%). Furthermore, they’re more likely to trust the reviews of people who are similar to them (66%). It makes sense, and Global research from Nielsen shows that 92% of consumers trust peer recommendations over ads and branded content.
How to Collect & Promote Positive Customer Reviews for Your Brand
While there’s nothing wrong with having happy customers write reviews advocating for your product or service, organic reviews—those that appear on neutral websites or social media platforms—come off as more honest and unbiased. With the authors’ permission, turn the positive reviews you find online into testimonials on your website or posts on your blog.
Make it easy for people to leave reviews on your website, social profiles, and in emails by optimizing them with quick and easy methods to post their comments. Consider setting up website badges to direct visitors to your Yelp, Facebook, and marketplace pages to read and leave reviews.
Your website should also be optimized for mobile for people who prefer to browse, search, check social media, and make purchases there. Asking for customer reviews via email? Keep your requests short and sweet.
Because your customers’ time is valuable, be sure to give them a reason to leave a review. Incentives such as discount or coupon codes, entrance into contests, or gift cards for coffee, online shopping, or cash will go a long way in convincing customers to write a review.
Of course, there will always be customers who are happy to write reviews just because they love your brand, but it never hurts to send the love back their way, right?
It’s no longer good enough to have amazing marketing or compelling product descriptions and beautiful images on your website and other forms of advertising to promote your brand and sell your products or services. Customers these days want more authentic sources of information and true-to-life insight.
As HubSpot points out, your company’s best marketers and sales reps aren’t your employees—they’re your existing customers.
Customer reviews and other UGC are cost effective, community-driven, and customer-centric forms of content marketing that let actual people become the voice for your brand…and it doesn’t get any better than that.
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