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August 24, 2021

Free Advertising: Can Online Reviews Really Boost Sales?

Think of online reviews as the first domino to fall in the series of events from awareness to conversion. The more positive online reviews you generate, the lower your cost per conversion will be, which means increased revenue for your business.

Reviews are not just to make the business feel good (or bad). They have bottom-line implications.

How customer reviews help to boost sales:

  1. Online reviews yield better organic search volume and better local visibility.
  2. Improved visibility creates increased website visits.
  3. More people checking out your website will generate more conversions over time.

Think of online reviews as the first domino to fall in the series of events from awareness to conversion. The more positive online reviews you generate and the higher your Google star rating, the lower your cost per conversion will be, which means increased revenue for your business.

With all of that in mind, let’s first get a refresher on the variety of ways online reviews can benefit your business. Later, we'll highlight how online reviews can serve as effective marketing collateral that will ultimately improve conversion rates and reduce your reliance on paid advertising.

The Power of Online Reviews

If you’ve worked with Widewail in the past or have read any of our other blogs, you'll know we talk about this a lot. Either way, understanding how online reviews can power your business is valuable information that's worth repeating, so let’s get into it.

  • Local Search Ranking - Taking steps to boost review volume will lead to increased activity via your Google My Business (GMB) presence overall. Take our client, Code Style Club, for example. After six months of using Invite, customer interactions through their GMB saw a:
    • 39% increase in visits to www.codestyleclub.com
    • 67% increase in phone calls
    • 277% increase in search and map result appearance
  • Shape Your Brand Reputation - Online reviews play a major part in crafting your online reputation. People value other peoples’ opinions to inform their own buying decisions, and online reviews help prospective customers paint a complete picture of what your brand is all about. Here’s what Jenny Carlson, Code Style Club owner, had to say about what prioritizing review management did for their business:

“Looking back, I greatly underestimated the value of an online presence which includes a healthy volume of online customer reviews. 90% of our new clientele mention our online reviews and our 5-star Google rating as a big deciding factor.”

- Jenny Carlson, Owner, Code Style Club Hair Salon


  • Drive Consumer Trust - Qualtrics recently reported that 93% of consumers cited online reviews as an influential factor in guiding their purchase decisions. That’s a significant chunk of prospective customers that are looking to your reviews for guidance! Building long-standing relationships with your target audience starts with taking your review management efforts seriously.

Social Proof Increases Conversions

Let’s first consider Julian Shapiro’s model of how to think about conversion rate:

Conversion rate = Desire - Labor - Confusion

Every click the prospect has to make or extra piece of information they need to decipher in order to make a decision chips away at desire until it's gone.

Session over. Opportunity passed.

With that in mind, let’s look at the effectiveness of customer testimonials to boost desire and minimize labor and confusion.

  • Stat #1: Landing pages with social proof convert on average at 12.50%, compared to landing pages without convert at 11.40%. 
  • Stat #2: 34% of the top-performing landing pages feature testimonials. 
  • Stat #3: When consumers interact with your reviews, they are 58% more likely to convert.

Social proof drives conversion. If you haven't already done so, we encourage you to test this for your business.

When you work to prioritize review management and generate frequent, positive customer testimonials, you’ll gradually have more customers coming through your door, which leads to more dollars for your business.

On top of that, as your organic search traffic and online visibility improve as a result of your social proof, you'll be able to achieve the same amount of traffic with reduced ad spend. Social proof drives better business opportunities efficiently. Talk about a win-win.

More Money, More Research

Shoppers tend to spend more time comparing products and doing research when shopping for more expensive products. The effort is commensurate with the investment.

Consumers seek peace of mind as they shop for expensive products - who wants to shell out a bunch of money for something that falls short of expectations?

Reviews are a straightforward way for consumers to get reliable information on the product they’re browsing and further shape their buying decision. And when reviews work to provide that peace of mind, customers are more likely to pull the trigger.

Spiegel found that conversion rates on more expensive products increased by 380% when retailers began displaying reviews on the checkout page. 380%! Even for lower-priced products, reviews that were displayed on the checkout page still increased by 190%.

Reviews can give your customers the extra push they need to finalize their purchase decision and feel confident about shopping with you. Shoppers trust their peers. Take some time to get your reviews front and center for the world to see. When you do, a boost in sales is bound to follow.

Takeaways

  • Online reviews yield better organic search volume and better local visibility.
  • Improved visibility leads to more people checking out your website, which in turn will generate more conversions over time.
  • Online reviews can serve as effective marketing collateral that will ultimately improve conversion rates and reduce your reliance on paid advertising.
  • Social proof drives conversion.
  • Reviews are especially effective when placed in front of customers browsing more expensive products or services.
  • Making your reviews a major part of your advertising efforts can increase website visits, generate brand awareness, and ultimately boost sales.

What's Widewail?

Widewail is a reputation management software and services company based in Burlington, VT. We help hundreds of small local businesses and national brands like Lexus and BH Property Management generate and respond to reviews.

Learn more about our core products:

Engage: Review response managed services

Invite: Send automated SMS review requests to all your customers

QUIZ  What is your online reputation score? Get Your Score

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Jake Hughes

I’m Marketing Manager here at Widewail, as well as a husband and new dad outside the office. In Vermont by way of Boston, where I grew the CarGurus YouTube channel from 0-100k subscribers. I love the outdoors and hate to be hot, so I’m doing just fine in the arctic Vermont we call home. Fun fact: I met my wife on the shuttle bus at Baltimore airport. Thanks for reading Widewail’s content!

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