It’s tough out there for any new businesses, but especially online businesses. If you’re in the brick and mortar space, you can open up and expect pedestrians to walk by, come into your store, check out your wares, and talk to you. If they like what they see, they’ll become your customers.
It’s not so easy online. Not only can people not touch and feel the things they’re thinking about buying, there’s also no street for shoppers to walk on and discover your store. On top of all that, they don’t know who they’re buying from, because there’s no human interaction.
All of that is a way of saying: it takes more trust to buy online than it does from a brick-and-mortar store.
Online stores need trust. Online stores need social proof.
Because there are more barriers to buying, online retailers need a few tricks up their sleeves.
One of the best things you can do is get social proof.
What is social proof? At its most basic, it’s leveraging the power of previous customers to entice new customers.
The most common form of social proof is a high demand, usually in the form of a crowd, or a line: if there’s lots of people going to Hamilton, it must be good, right?
On the internet, it can be a little different. It can be the number of likes your Instagram post gets. Or the number of Twitter followers.
But for online retailers, there’s no social proof more powerful than customer reviews.
Why are customer reviews so valuable?
Put simply, customer reviews are the holy grail of social proof because they’re authentic. They’re trusted. They come from customers, not retailers.
According to Website Builder, 68% of millennials trust online reviews, compared to just 34% who say they trust television ads. Even more staggeringly, customer reviews are trusted 12 times more than manufacturer’s descriptions!
Even if your brand is trusted, people trust the words of strangers on the internet over yours.
Reviews help sales, too. Even bad ones.
Beyond building trust, reviews can help you sell more, too. According to the Harvard Business Review, good reviews help sales no matter how well-known your brand is.
But surprisingly, if your brand is unknown, bad reviews can boost sales by as much as 45%!
Why? For one, reviews spread awareness about products and brands whether they are good or bad. But secondly, bad reviews indicate that the product is real. That real people had a response to it.
(Overwhelming positive reviews can give rise to fear of astroturfing, which is when companies place fake reviews on sites to boost their credibility.)
And nearly everyone reads reviews
Another reason reviews are valuable is that they’re expected — according to BrightLocal, 91% of people read online reviews to determine the quality of a business.
Further, people read a lot of them.
68% of people read more than 4 reviews before deciding if they can trust a business, and 32% of people read more than 10!
Perhaps most shockingly, 88% of customers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to Search Engine Land.
That’s right: when it comes to where to shop, people trust online reviews as much as their friends, their colleagues, and their families!
How do you get online reviews?
The best way to get online reviews is through TrustedSite Reviews. Built by the operators of the McAfee SECURE service, TrustedSite Reviews helps trustworthy businesses gain the social proof they need to grow and become valuable.
Here’s how it works:
Every time a customer makes a purchase, they’ll get an email from you asking if they’d like to leave a review.
Then, when you have the reviews, your new customers, who might be unsure about your store, can view those reviews directly on your site. All they have to do is click a TrustedSite button and they’ll see reviews:
Plus, users of our Chrome extension can view your rating with the click of a button.
All of this helps new customers who haven’t done business with you feel safe enough to shop at a new store.
The best part is, TrustedSite Reviews is free for the first 100 reviews you collect and display!