This Tool Will Transform your Content Marketing Strategy in 2021
“82% consumers depend on online reviews of local businesses to help them with their buying decisions and 68% decide after reading one to six reviews.” This finding by BrightLocal indicates that product reviews and testimonials matter. Checking product reviews for everything that I buy is now muscle memory. Whether it is a small notepad to a television or car.
Spiegel Research found that “consumers read an average of 10 reviews before developing trust”. And the likelihood of sales is higher.
Spiegel Research’s finding goes a step ahead and suggests that there is a whopping 270% chance of higher sales if the product has a minimum of 5 reviews. This has become easy with the consumption of information using mobile devices.
These statistics strongly indicate that consumers want to feel safe & confident while deciding and purchasing your product. 46% Americans believe that reviews help “to make consumers feel confident about their purchases.”
They want the inside details, honest information about the product’s performance, ease of buying, the efficiency of delivery, installation, operation, maintenance, and the gaps between expectation and reality.
And who can narrate this better than your existing customer?
Product reviews pose tremendous opportunities for small businesses like yours.
But are you totally leveraging this option?
Most likely not; because research shows that “an average local marketer spends 17% of their time on online reputation management”. Because they do not have enough time. Unbelievable!
If you are one of those local businesses who are not nurturing product reviews then you are missing out on massive opportunities of organically attracting prospects and converting them for higher sales.
In this post, I am going to show you the gigantic potential of product reviews for small businesses in 2021. You will be amazed at how they offer profound opportunities to continuously improve your business. But the key focus of this post is on how to gently motivate your customers to share their valuable experience and enrich your content marketing landscape.
Are you excited?
Why the world needs product reviews
How do you as a small business owner address your customer’s need for information and specifics?
If I am right then like all others you are focused on Content marketing.
The astounding rise of the digital media and channels has thrust Content Marketing to the center of all our marketing focus whether it is a B2B or a B2C business. It is an endless endeavor to connect with our audience online using videos, blog posts, webinars, eBooks, infographics, and a host of other content forms at every possible touchpoint.
But here’s the thing, all these content forms are crafted by us (=the company). It is natural that we inadvertently focus on the strong points, the glitz and the glamor of the product.
One can say that such content can (and does) suffer from confirmation bias.
Question for you — if you are at the customer end, whom would you trust more? The content published by the company or something else?
What do we try to do with Content Marketing?
Two things –
(a) to be found in the online world when people search for solutions to their problem which our product can solve.
(b) to be accepted as a voice of authority within this space, thus, considered for a sales transaction.
However, Michel Linn of CMI says “Content marketing is about your audience. What do they care about?”
What does our customers want from our content?
Customers want honest, trustworthy, material evidence of our product, its capabilities, and challenges.
Customers are trying to solve a problem with an optimum and valuable solution from the marketplace.
But how do they think, research options, and make a decision?
What are their main concerns?
How do we credibly sway them with our persuasive content marketing efforts?
I always go back to Dave Gray’s Empathy Map and align with it to create effective content. It basically instructs you to get inside your prospect’s head and see the world through their eyes and gain perspective.
The best way to know is to check on what they think, feel, hear, say, and do. And what better than product reviews and testimonials in their own words. Customers find such reviews relatable and authentic compared to the ones written by industry experts, specialists, or influencers.
Product reviews work both ways
They help other prospects and customers, and our business too.
Product reviews build trust.
Company websites display the testimonials of their customers. These are often collected from happy customers.
An average shopper knows that the testimonials are stacked in favor of the company.
Product reviews on the other hand are mostly independent and found on third-party sites. They are all over the Internet.
We see them on industry websites, experts speak, comparative studies, companies publishing interviews and a factsheet about their product performance, and influencers promoting certain brands. Many of these are solicited reviews or sometimes part of public relation exercise.
But the most honest ones are those that are unsolicited and posted by customers.
A curious thing about reviews is happy customers seldom voice their views. Our offering is supposed to make them happy. It’s a no-brainer. Even if they do write a review it is usually brief and generic.
“The product was good, delivered on time. Met my expectations.”
But if they are disappointed or we fall short, the reviews are extensive highlighting every point of failure. It creates an imbalance.
This gap here is an opportunity for small businesses.
You must encourage all of your customers to share their experience.
In a later part of this post, I will tell you how to help customers do a valuable review. Valuable for you as a business, and the community of other prospects and customers.
Product reviews are vital input for Content Ideas & Strategy
When customers write their reviews our natural tendency is to be defensive and edgy. Instead, we must learn to track and collate them.
Look at the brighter side. It gives you free insight into your customers. You can tweak your buyer persona to predict their behavior.
For starters, mark the places where your customers gather and share their views.
Are you engaging on the same platform? If not, start by doing that. You can guest post on these sites and craftily address the issues raised by your customers in their review. You can even plan to advertise on these sites to target the audience.
The review will help you fine-tune your content creation and distribution system. It will tell you if your content is aligned to what your customers seek or not.
But that is not all that product reviews do.
How do product reviews help?
Our prospects are now well-informed and smart at collecting information about products before deciding to buy.
Customers have access to a vast sea of information, and viewpoints through Google Reviews, Yelp, Zomato, Amazon to help them choose and decide.
Product reviews pose an opportunity to convert buyers and customers like no other marketing material. They are a much-deserving inbound marketing tool.
For one, it helps to attract new customers. People who have never dealt with you or your product get an intimate & honest view. Well-crafted product reviews magnify customer experience and persuade the fence-sitters to jump your way.
We need to remember that if a customer is reading reviews, it means we have their attention.
They are further down the marketing funnel and at the consideration stage. It means the prospect is now open to buying. Our content will have more chances of converting these customers leading them to actually purchase the product.
You create the potential for more sales from your existing customers as they get involved in the review process and see their voice being heard and aired. There is a sense of belongingness and value.
One of the brightest factors in favor of the product review is the lower marketing cost but higher effectiveness and reach.
You might be thinking about what happens when people post negative reviews.
How do we protect our brands?
Negative product reviews are opportunities!
Take them as an excellent source for customer insight and content ideas.
They tell us about the customer pain points and questions which we must address. We can get ideas to improve our product, processes, training our staff, marketing communication, and messages.
How can you involve your customers to craft an extensive product review?
Let us accept that there will be good, bad, ugly reviews, and fake ones too. This is the World Wide Web. Everyone has a voice and you cannot muzzle them. You cannot fully control the narrative.
What is in your control?
You can boost honest, objective, comprehensive product reviews on an independent platform by engaging with your customers and motivating them to contribute.
It will work wonders for your brand, affect off-page SEO, and help drive up traffic to your website.
Pew Research has found that 38% of Americans never leave a review. That is probably because no one explicitly asked them to.
I get regular requests from sellers on Amazon to review their product after I buy. I do not think I have ever written a review on my own. It has always been in response to an email that I have received, clicked on the link, and went ahead to write.
But not everyone has the skills or vocabulary to weave together a clear narrative. And that is where you have a job cut out for you.
Teach your customers how to write well-rounded product reviews. Show them examples of reviews that narrate a good or bad experience.
Keep track of the customers who are enthusiastic about reviewing. Tap them for an interactive video review to share on your website. Send them a thank-you note.
You can give them a blank template to fill and post on the independent review sites. Ask them to tag your company. Encourage them to include their names, pictures to increase authenticity. Let the off-page SEO juice flow to you.
7 Things that Customers must include in Product Review
- What was the customer’s problem?
- What other options did the customer evaluate?
- How did they decide to buy your product?
- Did the product solve their problem? If yes, to what extent?
- How did the product solve their problem?
- To whom will they recommend this product?
- If the product did not meet their expectations then where did it fail? What were the expectations in the first place?
Educate your customers to review the entire experience.
Do not forget to point them to the dominant third-party review websites and opinion-makers. That way you have a relative idea of where to find them and engage if necessary.
You must urge your customers to share their views in all forms like written, audio, video, social shares, and even by participating in surveys.
Create a free template and share it with your customers to help them write incredibly useful product reviews.
Enable them to act.
Ask and ye shall receive.
Digital media has revolutionized customer’s voice. They have access to a wide range of platforms to share their opinion to an audience that is primed to consume it.
If you go to a search engine and type in something like “<brand name>+product+review”, hoards of SERPs will be delivered to you.
Research shows that consumers believe reviews only if they find them real and truthful. That is why you need a good amount of customer reviews.
There are many small businesses out there that have a fantastic product but do not leverage product reviews to increase their customer acquisition and sales.
It is a fairly inexpensive means of marketing compared to all other kinds of content marketing activities mentioned earlier in this post.
And you can make these reviews work in your favor, if –
1. You ask your customers for reviews
2. You teach them how to write effective and comprehensive reviews
You can ask them for reviews at the point of sale or remind them through emails or messages a few days after they have purchased the product (and most likely used it).
If you point them to post the reviews on an independent site instead of your website, your customers will be more inclined to participate. You will gain organic traffic and enjoy trust and authority something that none of your other content marketing activities can give you.
If you are those vast majority of small businesses that are not investing enough time on hustling for valuable product reviews, now is the time to get going.
Make use of product reviews as a valuable B2C content marketing tool in 2021. Transform the “testimonials” into captivating conversion-centric content.
How do you intend to motivate your customers to go about it?