view_from_the_topRetailer’s looking to document the customer path to purchase are always talking about the sales funnel and touch points. Seeking to better understand what influences customers to buy – social media, ads (online and offline), emails, retargeting, word of mouth, search, etc. –  helps make decisions about how to allocate marketing budgets most effectively.

Attribution and tracking software has certainly helped provide useful data about about what can influence customers purchases, but even within each of those different touch points I mentioned above there seems to be a commonality that can help prompt users to buy – reviews.

In 2014, almost nine out of 10 consumers looked at reviews to help make decisions on local businesses, according to Bright Local’s Consumer Review Survey. And that’s just local business. BrightLocal, also said that 88 percent  of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations when it comes to online shopping. These consumers are not willing to invest their time and money on something with a negative review.

I’ve written before about reviews as a powerful tool for online marketers. We all know that Yelp and other review sites have influenced millions of people (and also been rightly slapped for fake reviews and manipulating the system), but reviews are one of the few powerful elements that can be embedded in each customer touchpoint.

For example, a potential customer may see a review on a brand’s website, find reviews of products or service when they do a search query, see a review from their friends or family when they are using social media, or encounter customer reviews within a brand’s sponsored ads.

Our clients have reaped the benefits of having a an actual plan that is executed on when it comes to reviews. Simply relying on satisfied (or unsatisfied customers) to leave a review is not a strategy. Brands need to have a develop a comprehensive plan that details how reviews will be incorporated into all appropriate marketing efforts. Then they need to track and constantly evaluate those efforts to get maximum results.

We have a long-standing partnership with Yotpo to help elevate our efforts with clients. Using a third-party that specializes in reviews and fully understands their ability to drive traffic and conversions has been a huge boost.

And even if you don’t have a plan you can’t stop people from posting about your brand. Negative reviews can be turned into a positive (but only if you are proactive), but the negative reviews can harm your business reputation.

Research from MOZ states that. “businesses risk losing as many as 22 percent of customers when just one negative article is found by users considering buying their product. If three negative articles pop up in a search query, the potential for lost customers increases to 59.2 percent. Have four or more negative articles about your company or product appearing in Google search results? You’re likely to lose 70 percent of potential customers.”
So, if you don’t have a plan to deal with reviews, you are missing out on more traffic, higher conversions, and having some control over your own brand.