In today’s highly connected world where information and opinions are at our fingertips 24/7, social proof and the fear of missing out (FOMO) are real drivers of consumer behaviour.

Most of us don’t like feeling left out and the more we see and hear of something, be it a new food item, a beauty product, a clothing brand, a movie, a song, a book, a travel or entertainment experience – the more we want to try it for ourselves.

People are interested in other people’s opinions and so when someone shares their experience and gives a big thumbs-up to a product or a business, it drives demand and adds fuel to the FOMO.  And marketers know this.  They are constantly investigating ways of building brand awareness and creating social impetus around a product or a brand in order to boost sales.

Enter customer reviews.

The opinions of customers matter.  Referrals, especially in high volumes, indicate that a business is legitimate and reliable.  They create interest and hype and they send a strong message that people are engaging with that business or product.  They provide a platform for customer engagement and are a really good way of demonstrating a company’s commitment to the best consumer experience.

Good reviews are a tick of approval.  And the more hype there is, the greater the perceived popularity and the more sought-after the product or service will become.

What’s more, if a business is seen to be genuinely interested in its customers’ opinions and appreciates them – and in the case of a negative review, is seen to be seeking a solution – the more trustworthy and authentic it will appear.

Reviews are a great resource for consumers looking for validation before making a purchase.  Many people rely on this feedback before committing – and the more reviews a business has and the more authentic the feedback – the better.

Reviews are a business’s way of saying ‘Don’t take our word for what we offer.  Listen to what our customers are saying’.  And the more confident a business is about the quality of its offering and the harder it works at maintaining high standards and delivering what the customer wants, the more positive that feedback will be.

And because we’re in the communication age where everyone can have their say, businesses should be encouraging their customers to use their voices by leaving a review on Google, Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and other platforms.  It adds to the authenticity of their product or brand.

It doesn’t take much to keep abreast of new reviews and respond with a personal message to either thank the reviewer or in the case of a negative review, offer a pathway to resolution.  A business’s responses are an opportunity to engage with its audience on a very personal level and provide another opportunity to tell (and sell) its story.

Customers can be encouraged to leave a review in many different ways including via email (ideally just after a product has been purchased or a service completed), through a clearly placed link on a website, with a personal face-to-face request etc.  And here’s the thing.  According to a BrightLocal study, 70% of consumers will leave a review if asked – so a solid strategy of collecting reviews will yield dividends.

Skydive Geronimo are a Perth skydiving company and have always invested time and effort in encouraging and collecting reviews from their customers. The business now has over 200 five-star reviews on TripAdvisor – and this high volume of positive endorsement is marketing gold. Skydive Geronimo can’t control what the reviewer says, but it can make sure that its team is always striving to deliver a five-star experience which should elicit a five-star rating.

In addition to the credibility boost, Google reviews are also important from an SEO perspective, especially if the business is a local one.  They’re a key local search ranking factor and one of the ways that a website can raise its visibility in the search results.

So, for any business – be it a shop, e-commerce website, hotel, healthcare practice, tradesperson or an experience provider – collecting customer reviews is an essential component of a marketing strategy.  People are far more likely to make a purchase when they’re  reassured that others around them (even if they’re total strangers) ‘agree’ that it’s a good decision by virtue of their positive reviews.