How social proof hands your customers the confidence to press ‘buy’

Your business may be booming, and your customers content, but just one negative review could unravel all of your online credibility. That is, if there are no other reviews to testify to your incredible service or product.

Offline reality vs. Online image

When your happy customers don’t write reviews – i.e. when the reality of your business isn’t reflected online – your entire image can suffer the blow of single bad word. Just one negative review will shout so much louder if you let it occupy your online space, and unfortunately, the ‘no news is good news’ mantra does not work in your favour here.

When you think of the news: the hourly interruptions to your favourite radio show, the daily papers on the metro, the interviews and interrogations splashed across the gym screens and the half an hour every evening your grandparents spend glued to the television, do you think of good or bad stories? Usually it’s not the most uplifting. Strange, but we tend to be drawn to the doom and gloom rather than the sunshine and birdsong.

The same goes for online reviews. People are more likely to voice an opinion arising from a bad experience than a good one. You would probably do the same if you felt hard done by, conned or disappointed. And the bad news doesn’t stop there! People are going to look for flaws in your service or your product – a reason to not hand over their money. According to a report published by the Digital Marketing Agency Fan and Fuel,  31% of consumers skim reviews for problems, no doubt to confirm the inbuilt suspicion we all have when we’re 5 minutes from an online checkout being asked for our bank details. Another big warning sign is the total absence of online reviews. Consumer silence screams louder than any negative review can. No social proof, no trust. That’s why you need a smart online reviewing strategy that will activate a greater slice of your market.

In search of social proof

Fan and Fuel’s study was conducted in late 2016, and revealed that consumers really do search high and low for social proof – aka, online reviews. 92% of people surveyed will ummm and ahhh and indefinitely postpone their purchase if there are no online reviews to instil trust and validate the service or product. Our Why I Review September 2018 survey involving 141 of our most outspoken reviewers supports Fan and Fuel’s findings. In our US and UK communities, 82% said that they read online reviews before every purchase they make, as opposed to 18% that only read reviews if they’re unsure about a purchase. Surprise surprise, zero of our native english reviewers never read reviews. The figures speak for themselves.  If you have no reviews, 82% of potential customers are gone.

Fan and Fuel call the absence of online reviews a barrier between ‘customer and conversion’ and suggest following Brian Patterson’s advice from the SEO experts Go Fish Digital. Patterson offers 5 solid tips for teasing online reviews out of your customers, including face-to-face requests and financial incentives. We’re here to tell you that there is a strategy to dismantle that barrier, but not in this complex, long winded way. In fact, whilst Patterson claims that ‘’asking for reviews doesn’t require any special tools or technology, just a commitment to see it through’’, we beg to differ, because we went ahead and created those special tools and technologies ourselves.

The difficult way 

Really. Getting your online presence to reflect the offline reality of your legions of satisfied customers, needn’t be such a feat. Whilst Patterson offers some decent insights into approaching your customers, the effort is disproportionate to the reviews you will actually generate. Yes, gauge the sentiment of your customers by designing a feedback form, then ask the satisfied ones to write a review, then just cross your fingers that they actually do. More desperate still, you could contrive a ‘’mini-bond’’ (as Patterson puts it) with your customers in store. Train your staff into working up a fruitful conversation with a customer about holiday plans or kids, to the point where it’s socially acceptable to ask for a review. Hand them a card, take their email, whatever – it’s going to cost you valuable time, and meanwhile that one unhappy customer’s damning review is still stubbornly sat one click away from Google. How can you safeguard your online reputation quickly and sustainably? Smartly sourced social proof.

The easy way

To save you the sweat of approaching satisfied customers and asking if they ‘please, possibly, wouldn’t mind terribly if they wrote an online review’, be smart and efficient with your Stars and Stories. Contact us now for a online reviewing strategy perfectly tailored to your needs, and get the authentic feedback online that represents the offline reality of your business.