Responding to online reviews can increase conversion rates

Marketers have been talking about online reviews for many years, yet they remain quite a divisive issue.  Some believe that there are better ways of connecting with clients and customers while others think that online reviews are a risky endeavor that can backfire and leave your business in public relations problems. Social media is a tricky area right now, and we fully acknowledge that. However, staying away from it can do more harm than good. The uncertainty has influenced most businesses, particularly those in the online world, to avoid reviews. If you confront it head on, you could give yourself an edge.

Review avoidance is not a good option. Social media works more like word of mouth, and therefore your presence on and around social media is what you need to drive your products or services viral. For the reviews to work, you should start responding to them.

Harvard Business Review findings

A recent study involving over 7,000 businesses’ data from Google Adwords campaign, helped researchers identify two interesting points. First, they showed that companies with high star ratings are more likely to see higher conversion rates than those with a lower score. Secondly, the statistical difference between companies that respond to reviews and those that do not respond to them is significant.

A business that had lower star ratings during the time of the study (3.3 stars) witnessed around 10.42 percent conversion rate. In other words, over 10 percent of searchers interacted with the businesses’ search results immediately saw the star rating. Companies with higher ranks such as 4.96 stars enjoyed higher conversion rates that were around 12.83 percent.

Now, you might be wondering what difference these two percentages would make. It’s hard to say, but the research approximated that it could mean over 13,000 potential leads for the low rated businesses. If that involves local market and local searches the effect can be a significant loss in the long term.

This is just the start.

The researchers also checked whether the businesses responded to their clients or customer’s reviews – both negative and positive – and how the response affected the conversion decision. Businesses that responded to over 8 percent of customer reviews enjoyed a 13.86 percent conversion rate. Other businesses that responded to only 5 percent of customer reviews enjoyed only 10 percent conversion rates. With that, you can start seeing that the decision to reply your customer reviews highly affects your profits.

When and how should you reply to customer reviews?

The answer to this question is not as straightforward as you might think. You have to study the intention of every review and work with those that can affect your business’ performance. You shouldn’t be afraid of thanking your customer for leaving a positive review. It will only take you a few minutes to do that, but your action will improve the customer’s loyalty and keep him/her coming back for many years.

If the review is lukewarm, you should respond immediately. You are likely to save the customer. Their decision on whether to come back for more products or go forever will highly depend on the words you use. However, to respond to negative reviews, you have to think hard. Some of them might have malicious intent.