The Importance of Online Reviews (With Tips To Get More)

Updated February 3, 2023

Many customers conduct internet research before choosing a product or service to buy. Part of the decision-making process often includes learning what product users think about the item by reading online reviews. Learning about online reviews can help you use them to improve products, enhance a company’s brand reputation and reach new consumers.

In this article, we explain the importance of online reviews by listing 10 key reasons they matter and provide tips you can use to increase the number of online reviews a business receives for a product or service. 

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What is an online review?

An online review is an opinion of a product or service, written by someone who has used it. Reviews can appear as part of the product page on retail sites, or they may appear as part of a search engine's results. They may discuss what features of the product a user likes or dislikes and whether the actual product matches the description. Online reviews often include a ranking system, using stars, numbers or other graphic elements, which allows the site to produce an average rating based on multiple reviews. 

Related: How To Write a Product Review in 5 Steps

10 reasons why online reviews are important

Online reviews are important for businesses because they can impact users' behavior. Here are several ways online reviews can benefit your company:

1. They can improve 

Having lots of reviews and a high average user rating can improve a website’s rankings in search engines. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a set of techniques professionals use to ensure their website appears at the top of a search engine result page for a specific keyword. Part of the algorithms used by search engines involves the number and type of reviews on your products.

For example, consider a customer searching for "counseling services in Miami." The search engine may provide a list of counselors with those rated highest at the top. While having high ratings is important, having lots of reviews can also boost a website’s search rankings because this suggests that the company is popular with customers. 

Related: Guide: What Is SEO?

2. They can make you more visible to shoppers

Some search engines and online marketplaces allow customers to use filters that narrow their search results using specific parameters, including average customer rating. Many customers prefer to restrict their browsing to high-rated products and services to save time. For instance, some shoppers may choose to view only products that have a minimum of a three-star rating by reviewers. Keeping your average rating high can help more web users discover your products, leading to more traffic and sales.

3. They can convince customers to buy a product or service 

Positive reviews provide third-party validation for a product or service, which can encourage potential customers to shop at the company. s. They serve as recommendations to potential customers who may be deciding between several similar products. Positive online reviews can be the deciding factor that leads some shoppers to purchase your product. One way to increase an average rating for a product or service is to collect more reviews. 

Related: How To Write a Description of Products or Services

4. They can guide customers 

Shoppers can use reviews to find answers to their questions, choose between different sizes or colors and discover more in-depth information about a company. Many reviews include helpful elements, such as noting whether clothing and shoes run big, small or true to size. This information can help customers choose the right product or service for their needs, improving their experience with the company and encouraging them to post a positive reviews of their own.

Reviewers can also discuss tips like the best place to park near a business or respond to issues that other users addressed. For instance, one reviewer may remark that they received poor service at a restaurant. Other reviewers can then point out that the restaurant has new management and a new training program for employees to improve the service.

5. They can increase customer loyalty 

Positive online reviews can help build trust between customers and a brand. These reviews can show that the company’s products or services meet expectations, fulfill customers' needs and are true to their portrayal online. You can also use review platforms to build or advertise customer loyalty programs. For example, the manager of a coffee shop might respond to positive customer reviews on a third-party site, asking reviewers to sign up for the shop’s loyalty program to receive free drinks and other promotional offers. 

Related: 11 Methods for Building Customer Loyalty

6. They can make the brand more accessible

Online review platforms allow company representatives to interact with customers directly, which can help them build a reputation for helpfulness and accessibility. In these situations, negative reviews are a chance for the company’s brand ambassadors to speak to customers and improve their experience with the company. Customers who receive help in response to a negative review might edit their review or delete it and post a new one, praising the company’s customer service team.

For example, a customer who bought a pair of shoes online might have received the wrong size and posted a negative review on the product page about their experience. The shoe company’s customer service manager might read the review and contact the customer to arrange a free exchange and give the customer store credit for an additional pair of shoes. After their conversation, the customer might write a new review, describing how helpful and communicative the customer service team was. 

Related:7 Steps to Online Reputation Management

7. They can help small and new businesses grow 

Using a third-party review site can cost little or no money, allowing smaller and less established businesses to build a consumer base to compete with larger firms. By getting reviews from local customers, a small or new business can attract more clients. Online reviews are free opportunities for smaller businesses to increase their brand awareness, ensuring more revenue. Many customers prefer shopping at local or small businesses, so an online review platform allows them to learn about options in their area. 

Related: 9 Ways To Promote Your Business Online

8. They provide free marketing content

A company’s marketing team can use reviews from product pages or third-party review sites to advertise the company. They may use excerpts from existing reviews or contact the reviewer directly for a more detailed testimonial about their experience with the company. . Product review pages on a company’s website might have disclaimers that state how a reviewer’s comments might be used for promotional purposes. When a marketing team contacts a third-party reviewer, they typically ask the reviewer to sign a contract authorizing the use of their words and likeness. 

For example, the marketing team for a makeup brand might contact a customer who left positive reviews for several products. The team might ask the reviewer to create a video where they demonstrate how to use each product and provide tips for new users. They might post this video to the company’s social media platforms or embed clips in marketing emails.

Related: How To Ask For a Review From Customers: The Complete Guide

9. They can provide business insights

Understanding how customers feel about a product or service can help a company’s leadership team adjust their business model or improve their product lines. Reviews can tell a leadership team about common obstacles to customer loyalty, like a limited selection, shipping issues and high prices. They can also help the marketing and sales team identify popular competitors, which can help them differentiate their company from others in the industry. 

For example, multiple online reviews for a certain exercise bike might mention that competing products have certain features that this bike lacks. The company’s product development team might add features or redesign the bike to meet their customers’ expectations. That way, the marketing and sales team can focus on the benefits of their product.

Related: Customer Insights: Definition, Benefits and Steps

10. They can identify niche markets

Sometimes, customers use a product in a way that the company’s leadership team didn’t expect. By learning what people use their products for, the company’s directors can identify niche markets and customize their products to increase revenue. For example, a company might manufacture software programs for architects. If the company’s product development team notices that lots of teachers review their products and say that they use the programs to teach architecture to students, the product design team might decide to create a line of educational programs that are customized for teachers.

Related: What Is a Business Niche? (With Different Types of Niches)

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Tips for getting more online reviews

Here are some ways you can increase the number of online reviews for a product or service:

  • Ask for them. Many companies ask customers for feedback about their products and services. You might add a sign to the lobby or a note on customers’ receipts, telling them how they can submit a review.

  • Use multiple platforms: While some customers are happy to submit a review to the company’s website, others prefer to use third-party consumer ranking sites or other resources. To make it easier for customers to submit a review on their preferred platform, you might post a sign with a list of all the sites which feature a review option for the business.

  • Offer incentives. You can offer customers incentives for writing positive online reviews. You might have a drawing for a prize at the end of each month for everyone who wrote a review or provide a discount code for customers who submit a review. 

  • Respond to reviews. Consider responding to positive and negative reviews to show the person behind the company. Thank reviewers who rate the company highly and honestly address negative reviews with a solution and, if warranted, an apology.

  • Incorporate a ranking system: While companies often can’t customize the review options on a third-party site, their IT team can usually add multiple choice or number ranking options to the review tools on the company’s site. A clickable review system can be easier and quicker to fill out, which can increase the number of people who submit reviews.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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