People might be ignoring overtly salesy marketing, but they still listen to each other. One of the most persuasive voices for selling your products can be your customers themselves. Whether you’re selling eBooks, renting skips or promoting your expertise, reviews and testimonials can enhance your credibility and build trust with hesitant buyers.
Reviews ‘social proof’ your products
Web savvy consumers now search for reviews as well as the products themselves. As Dean Rieck coined on Copyblogger, people look for the ‘social proof’ of a product or service. This is the wisdom of crowds in action where people search for feedback from previous happy customers before feeling confident enough to click ‘buy’.
If they don’t find the social proof on your site then a quick ‘Google’ on your product or company name will often do the trick. You can’t just bury your head in the sand if you’re selling a shoddy service.
Criticism can boost your credibility
So should you risk criticism appearing on your own website? In a recent E-consultancy article they suggested that a few negatives amongst the positives can actually enhance your credibility. People will think they’re getting objective advice, rather than being fed a corporate exercise in censorship.
Most reviews are believed to be complimentary anyway.
In a Bazaarvoice survey they found that 87% of reviews are positive. As Bazaarvoice CEO Brett Hurt commented, “This debunks a major myth about word of mouth and should encourage companies and chief marketing officers to be more comfortable with ‘letting go’ and inviting consumers to talk about their experiences.”
Inventing reviews is risky
Currently less than 30% of online retailers use customer reviews. So sharing feedback is an opportunity to differentiate yourself.
Just don’t try writing them yourself:
- The backlash from customers who feel cheated could discredit you for life, or force you to change your company name to avoid reprisals in the future
- Jo Public doesn’t worry about putting commas in the right place or writing in the active voice. However, he does write in an everyday, colloquial manner that gives his words a ring of authenticity. Trying to duplicate this can be tricky, no matter how talented a scribe you are
- Better Business Blogging alerted me to new EU law banning ‘buzz marketing’ and the use of faked campaigns to get people talking about you. This means making up your own customer reviews will be illegal in Europe (although how strictly the law can/will be enforced is another matter)
So whilst your competitors fret about letting people write on their websites, let your customers talk about your products to boost trust, credibility and sales.