Customers want to make sure they’re buying from a company that offers quality products and customer service. And the only way they’ll be assured that’s what they’re going to get when they buy from you is if other people can vouch for you.
One way you can do that is by displaying customer reviews and testimonials on your website.
The difference between customer reviews and testimonials
Since marketers use the terms “customer reviews” and “testimonials” interchangeably, it’s understandable to think that these two terms mean the same thing.
After all, both provide feedback from your past and existing customers about your products and your business.
But that’s where their similarities end.
Most customers leave reviews on directories like Google My Business.
More recently, customers have been using social media sites like Facebook and Youtube to create reviews like this one from Steve Dotto of Dottotech.
Testimonials, on the other hand, are feedback about your products and services that are your website visitors can find on your homepage,
Your products page,
And your sales landing pages.
Common types of customer reviews and testimonials
This is the most frequently used testimonial format brands use because it’s the simplest and quickest to do.
You can just type it straight onto your web pages, just like what I did on my About page.
If you want to have something that looks a little bit fancier, you can design a template using a tool like Canva like this one below and then upload it on your website and landing pages.
Social media reviews
Social media platforms like Facebook gives its users the ability to leave reviews right on your business page like this one on Reno Chicago’s Facebook page.
When people can recall your brand because a friend of theirs or a person they follow has mentioned your brand, they are 82% more likely to purchase from you.
Social media reviews also increase your rankings in search engines. The more buzz about your website and your products, the more potential customers are drawn to them.
This can lead to more potential customers to your site.
Sometimes, a customer wants to know exactly how you achieve success and the levels of success your service can deliver.
Case studies detail how your products helped past and current customers reach (even exceed) their specific business goals.
On their own, case studies are already useful. But adding a testimonial from the client like this case study from HubSpot further strengthens it.
Influencers—particularly micro-influencers—have earned the trust and respect of their followers because of their reputation of endorsing products that they use.
That’s the reason why up to 63% of customers trust product recommendations made by micro-influencers.
And because these micro-influencers would publish their recommendations on their respective social media accounts like this one from influencer Amy Landino.
So, you’re not just getting someone highly credible to recommend your products, but also get to reach a wider audience.
The dark side of customer reviews and testimonials
Recently, the ability of customer reviews and testimonials to convince your target market to buy your products have been diluted by the alarmingly growing number of fake customer reviews, and testimonials found online.
A comprehensive study conducted by Fakespot Analyzer revealed that 39% of online customer reviews are fake.
Even more alarming, many of the fake customer reviews and testimonials are negative.
And that poses a huge problem when it comes to reaching your marketing goals.
For starters, your target market perceives negative customer reviews as potential risks they’ll face when they choose to buy your product.
The more negative reviews you get, the more discouraged your target market will be to buy your products.
Worse is the amount of effort you’ll need to put in to repair the damage caused by these fake customer reviews.
That’s because studies show that it takes approximately 40 positive customer reviews to neutralize the damage caused by one negative review.
You can’t stop the onslaught of these fake customer reviews from attacking your brand and product. But you can neutralize its effects more quickly by observing the following customer reviews and testimonials best practices.
1. Make it easy for your customers to leave reviews
Ironically, not all of your satisfied customers will go out of their way to leave you a positive review.
So if you want to get your happy customers to leave you raving reviews and testimonials, you’ll need to make it easy and enticing for them to do so.
You can do this by displaying a call-to-action button on your website.
You can also send an email inviting your customers to leave a review of their recent purchases.
2. Make sure your testimonials are visible.
86% of buyers read up to six product reviews before deciding to buy a product. Making sure these reviews are visible is the first step into ensuring review readers will even consider buying your product.
Make sure your customers can find the reviews section by making it apparent. Leave it right below your product’s description.
3. Combine quantitative and qualitative data
Customer reviews and testimonials are data. They give your business the knowledge of what you do right, what you do wrong, and what your customers wish you were doing. Handling all this data can keep your company on the right track.
The quantitative data can mean the number of reviews you get or the star rating which most e-commerce sites employ. The qualitative data involves the content of the reviews, giving you an idea of what your customers are clamoring for.
The combination of these two data types provides you with the best holistic picture of your business and your product. With a clear goal in mind, your business can focus on serving your customers in the best way possible.
4. Allow customers to add photos and videos
By letting your previous customers add photos and videos to their product reviews, you establish a better visual connection with your customers, making it easier for them to picture your products in their hands when they buy it.
Photos also tell a better story than words do. They allow your customers to understand the product reviews and see what your previous customers mean in their reviews.
5. Don’t delete negative reviews
Since it’s detrimental to have negative reviews about your products, many brands are often tempted to delete negative customer reviews.
Not only do these negative reviews put your product’s flaws on display, but they also turn away all prospective customers.
And as we have learned earlier, you can’t also be too sure whether the negative customer reviews about your brand and products are coming from genuine customers.
So if you delete these negative customer reviews, you’re going to make your brand and product more appealing to your target customers, right?
Studies have shown that 53% of online shoppers actively seek out negative reviews. In fact, having a review score of 4.5 stars would be more beneficial than a perfect 5-star rating.
The reason lies in the saying, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
Customers recognize that nothing is perfect. That includes your products and your business.
If you’ve been in business for some time, your customers would expect that you’d receive both positive and negative customer reviews. If all you got are positive customer reviews, it’ll cause them to be suspicious of whether these reviews are authentic.
Also, negative customer reviews allow you to show your customers whether or not you indeed deliver quality customer service and that you listen to your customers.
Rather than letting your negative customer reviews sit there, take the time to address and respond to them.
Doing this gives you the chance to address the concerns raised by your customer and win them back. In fact, 33% of negative customer reviews can be turned into positive ones if you promptly and adequately address them.
6. Allow your visitors to rate your product reviews
When your site’s visitors can rate your customers’ reviews, it makes the most relevant reviews prominent and seen by your prospective customers. They’re also the most trustworthy and truthful of your reviews.
When your most trusted reviews are tagged as helpful, they’ll most likely give a lot of information about your product. These reviews provide your customers can make well-informed buying decisions.
This can also be a way to filter out the most common experiences with your product. A customer review with a high rating could indicate how the customer usually receives your product or service. This blocks out any anomalies in experiences, especially negative ones.
7. Promptly respond to all reviews
Getting new customers is 5x more expensive than retaining your existing ones.
Not only that. 61% of the revenue generated by business comes from purchases made by repeat customers.
By replying to both positive and negative product reviews, you can actively participate in molding your brand’s online reputation.
A Harvard Business Review study shows that replying to product reviews curbs the number of negative reviews. The negative reviews that still pop up also tend to be more constructive, giving more data for your business to use when improving your operations.
In the long run, when other customers see you respond to all your reviews, they see that their word matters to your company and are then more likely to leave a review themselves.
8. Always be professional
Equally crucial to responding to clients promptly is making sure you respond to customer reviews in a manner that makes you sound professional and polite.
Showing respect to rude, obnoxious, and arrogant customers can be very challenging. After all, you’re only human. Your natural tendency in situations like these is to become defensive and tell them off like what this deli owner did:
Posting a reply to a negative customer review this way is going to hurt your business even further.
When you respond negatively to their reviews, you’re justifying the negative reviews these customers gave you.
On the other hand, staying respectful and professional throughout your conversation can help calm the customer down and become more reasonable.
Start by acknowledging their comments and assure them that you genuinely understand the frustration they’re feeling right now.
Next, explain the situation by sticking to the facts and then follow this up with solutions. By doing this, you’re taking control of the conversation. This will make sure that your other customers see that you’re doing your best to resolve the situation.
End your response by offering to discuss the matter with the customer over the phone or via email.
Providing additional lines of communication helps you achieve two things:
First, it prevents the situation from getting worse by allowing all your other customers—new and existing—to see your conversation.
Second, your customer will appreciate you offering a more direct way of getting in touch with you to discuss their complaint.
In many cases, this would appease the customer and would be more cooperative with you to come up with a resolution for their concern.
9. Make sure you comply with FTC regulations
Earlier, I mentioned that deleting negative customer reviews about your business and products is a big no-no because your customers expect legit companies to have negative reviews.
Another reason has to do with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, specifically the Customer Review Fairness Act, which enforces penalties on businesses that don’t allow their customers to leave negative reviews as part of their terms and conditions or contracts.
Businesses found violating this regulation could face civil charges and have to pay a fine.
This is precisely what happened to Shore to Please Vacations. In 2017, the FTC filed a lawsuit against the company for not only insisting that their customers provide them with only a 5-star review but also threaten to penalize their customers $25,000 if they find that they left them a less-than-perfect review.
The FTC has also imposed several guidelines that you need to comply with if you’re requesting a social media influencer to leave you a customer review, and make sure that the influencers you work with do the same.
93% of celebrities who are social media influencers have violated the FTC’s rules on endorsements. Once the FTC cracks down on the violators, audiences lose trust in both the influencer and the brand for not specifying the fact that their endorsements were paid for, and thus not entirely unbiased.
10. Treat reviews and testimonials like any kind of data
The most significant improvement that collecting data can bring to a business is the knowledge on how to improve. Treating your customer reviews and testimonials the same way you would any other data you collect helps you make better decisions when it comes to improving your products and service.
Having a lot of data to process means you make better decisions and reduces the cost of trial and error. Adding in the data you receive from reviews and testimonials unearths discoveries in your customer behavior that you can’t get from just sales data alone.
Taking this data into consideration improves your business and the quality of your products, but also saves your customer reviews. Keep your customers satisfied by making sure they know that you are listening to all the feedback you give them.
11. Choose the reviews you feature carefully
Regardless of what industry you’re in, all honest and genuine customer reviews and testimonials share common characteristics.
For starters, honest customer reviews present both sides of your product or service.
As I previously mentioned, no product’s perfect. Neither is there such a thing as an ideal company. There’ll always be flaws and areas for improvement.
Second, your customers’ choice of words makes their reviews very objective. That’s not to say that they won’t share their emotions. However, the way that they do it in such a way that it doesn’t sound like it’s too biased.
Tools such as automation and linking to reviews on other websites can help you feature better reviews in a more efficient manner. These tools make it so that the best and newest reviews can always be seen by the customers who visit your site.
12. Make it mobile-friendly
Google began implementing mobile-first indexing in 2018. This significant change in how Google ranks websites resulted from a substantial rise in people accessing the internet on their mobile devices to find and buy products and services.
That said, it’s imperative to make sure that it’ll be easy for your customers to leave their feedback about your products and company on their mobile devices.
One way to do this is by making sure that you’re using a responsive theme for your website. These themes adjust the layout of your website based on the screen size of the device your customers are using.
You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to check if your website’s using a responsive theme.
13. Offer to take this further
Negative reviews are not just your customers ranting to you, but your customers asking for help. Providing excellent customer service means listening to your customers in their reviews, especially those who leave negative ones.
For example, customers at McDonald’s UK complained that the plastic straws in their restaurants contribute to a global environmental crisis.
McDonald’s UK listened and addressed the situation by getting rid of their plastic straws. As a result, they received major praise from their customers.
Negative reviewers leave these reviews out of frustration, so it might be best to provide some sort of retribution to your customers. In fact, some customers feel entitled to get something for free in return for negative feedback.
The right compensation for your customers is an important aspect to recognize. They won’t be satisfied with discounts for future purchases but would accept a product exchange.
14. Be transparent with your reviews
To be a trustworthy and believable brand, you need to make sure you are perceived as real to your prospective customers. Deleting all your negative reviews makes your brand seem suspicious and fake, discouraging your customers even further.
Amazon has made transparency on products on their site better by using their verification system.
As you can see, Amazon’s system tells you whether the customer review was left by someone who purchased the product through their website. It also discloses where the customer’s currently based.
15. Have a dedicated review manager
Once your business gets very popular, the reviews will keep coming in. Managing all these product reviews for data purposes, and replying to all of them, will take a significant amount of effort.
Hiring someone to monitor customer reviews and testimonials consistently ensures that you promptly respond each time that a customer reviews your products, regardless if it’s positive or negative.
A review manager can also collate the data in your reviews, guaranteeing that no valid concern goes unnoticed. They can also select the best customer reviews and feature these on your website to attract more customers.
Customer reviews and testimonials give the social proof your products and brand need to convince your target customers to buy your product.
At the same time, they provide you with qualitative and quantitative data that’ll guide you to make improvements to your products and service.
Implementing the customer reviews and testimonials best practices shared here will allow you to maximize these benefits while improving your customers’ overall perception of your brand and products.
Remember that customer reviews and testimonials are based on your customers’ overall experience with your products. So, if you want to increase the number of positive customer reviews you receive, don’t skimp on the quality of the products you’re offering to your target market.
Above all, ensure you always provide your customers with quality support even after they make a purchase. This is what will not only get them to make repeat purchases but happily endorse your products to others.
Are there any customer reviews and testimonials best practices I’ve missed? If so, share them in the comments section below.