User-generated content has become one of the most popular and most effective forms of content in the digital marketing sphere – with brands and businesses from every sector relying on customer reviews, testimonials, videos, and more to frame their position in the marketplace.
The simple fact is that customer reviews are an incredibly effective way to build brand credibility, with word of mouth and recommendation both two of the best ways of growing your organic marketing strategy.
So, how do you maximise the way that you access and use customer reviews – and what do you need to know about using these reviews to ensure that your marketing activity is regulation-proof?
The importance of reviews as part of your marketing strategy
Now more than ever people use reviews as a make or break part of their research and exploration of new brands and/or products. It’s rare for a savvy 21st century customer to order something completely new from a new brand or website without doing some digging into previous customer reviews, looking for information on the quality of both service and end product as well as delivery and the end-to-end experience.
Reviews let new and prospective customers know that you are a safe and reputable brand to deal with, and offer existing customers a chance to share their positive experience with others.
In addition, they share insight into elements of the customer experience that even you may not be aware of, and can help bring potential sticking points and issues to the forefront of your attention for immediate fixes and rectification. This aspect of customer reviews in particular highlights the need that reviews are managed and responded to, especially if they contain any negative points – with a public response to any reviews letting readers know that you are a business that can be trusted to act on any problems efficiently and effectively.
Which is where the next section of this blog post comes in – how to manage reviews and use them to boost your business.
How to manage and use reviews to help your business grow
Managing and using reviews to great effect means not only showcasing the great ones but also ensuring that you respond and react to any negative comments to demonstrate a consistent level of engagement and attention to customer reviews. When you respond to reviews, you show existing and new customers that you care about what are they saying – and you make it safe for them to share their thoughts and want to support and engage with you as a brand.
The best way to manage and use reviews within your business is to make sure you know where reviews are being left, and check them as regularly as you can. For the most part, customers tend to use review sites like Trustpilot and also share experiences with retailers and brands on social media.
If you are finding that your customers lean towards social media as a review site and a space to share their thoughts on your brand and products, embrace this and ask them directly for a range of different review types including video testimonials as well as written reviews and messages. User-generated content is among the most engaging on social media with video testimonials particularly convincing as they are much harder to fake and therefore are regarded as far more reliable.
How to collect more reviews
The aim of every business should be to collect more positive reviews and more away from the train of thought that customers only submit reviews when they have something negative to say. To drive positive reviews, communicate with your customers and let them know that you’d love to hear and receive their feedback! A business that asks for honest customer reviews is, more often than not, one which can be trusted – with customers more likely to leave feedback when asked rather than go looking for a review site of their own accord.
The regulations and legal aspects of reviews you need to know
Finally to the legal bits and the regulatory guidelines on collecting and using customer reviews to safeguard both your business and your customers’ data.
You may have noticed than any influencer on social media who talks about a gifted product on their page has to legally tag the post as an Ad – which links to one of the legal details around reviews and testimonials. When someone is being paid to talk about your product or have an agreement with you that they will post a review in return for a gifted product, they have to disclose this as an ad or paid endorsement, as per advertising standards.
In addition to declaring all ads and making any brand relationships clear to customers and stakeholders, brands that use customer reviews as part of their marketing campaign must make sure that any information disclosed in a review is accurate and does not make false claims or promises, and that the customer who has left the review agrees to it being used and shared by yourselves as part of your marketing activity.
For more advice on how to legally use customer reviews for your own marketing strategy, and how to optimise your brand’s exposure through customer reviews across different platforms, our team at Social Loop are here to help.