Boost Your Customer Reviews Strategy This Holiday Season

The importance of online reviews increases every holiday season as more and more consumers choose to conduct their holiday shopping online. A recent survey from PowerReviews reports that 99% of consumers will shop online this season, while half plan to do all of their holiday shopping online. 

Although price remains the factor with the greatest influence over consumers’ holiday purchase decisions, ratings and reviews come in a close second. According to the survey, nearly 3 out of 4 consumers indicate that reading reviews has an impact on which gifts they choose to buy. 

Furthermore, more than one-third of shoppers claim that online ratings and reviews will have a more substantial influence on their purchase decisions this season than last. Among Gen Z shoppers, this statistic was significantly higher at over 50%. 

This means having a strategic customer review strategy in place when the holiday shopping frenzy begins is essential. As the season of shopping nears, keep the following in mind to leverage reviews in a way that instills trust in potential customers, loyalty in current customers, and enables you to extend your reach.

4 Customer Review Insights

1. Reading reviews starts at the window-shopping stage.

While you may think that customers don’t start delving into reviews until they’re close to making a purchase, the truth is many consumers will check reviews even when they’re just trying to get a feel for what’s on the market. Because online reviews are displayed prominently on so many different platforms, consumers are starting to form opinions about products and services more quickly than ever. At a glance, they can get a feel for what a business offers and what their customers think after making a purchase. 

As a result, having solid reviews can help keep you on the short list of potential customers when they start narrowing down their gift ideas.

2. Reviews aren’t a one-way street.

Consumers know by now that businesses can respond to reviews at will – both the good and the bad. When a company responds to reviews in the right manner, this can boost their online reputation and instill trust in window-shoppers, leading them closer to that all-important purchase decision. 

Responses also give shoppers a good idea of the personality and identity of the business, details they may reflect on should they be interested in making a repeat purchase. Whether you choose to “like” the comment or respond with a personalized thank you, you’ll impress current and potential customers alike. 

3. Negative reviews aren’t the end of the world. 

It’s not always easy to keep your cool when you receive what feels like an unfair negative review. After all, a one- or two-star review can make a serious dent in your overall rating unless you have a significant number of reviews stacked up. 

However, the key here is to remember that negative reviews don’t have to be a negative for your business. Consumers understand that unfair reviews happen – they see them all the time. Even negative reviews that aren’t unfair won’t necessarily ding you in a window shopper’s mind; they realize making mistakes is part of growing as a business. 

What matters is how businesses react. A respectful response is a necessary first step, as is actually acting on constructive criticism whenever possible. A real win is when you’re able to win the customer back by going above and beyond to resolve the issue, something that will stick in holiday shoppers’ minds much longer than your overall rating. 

4. Stay on Santa’s “Nice” list. 

Hiring someone to write fake online reviews will put you on the “naughty” list in a jiffy. Most platforms can quickly detect reviews that aren’t authentic. Not only will they remove these reviews, but they might even penalize your business for trying to cut corners. 

Should you be so lucky as to avoid catching the eye of the hosting website, chances are the very consumers you’re trying to attract may call your bluff, which will only cause you to lose credibility. Stay on the “Nice” list and you’ll be rewarded with real reviews from customers whose trust you’ve earned.

Even if your marketing budget is limited, there are still plenty of ways you can reach new customers and spread the word about your business. All it takes is a little creativity and a willingness to invest your time and energy to grow your business without going overboard on marketing spend. 

There’s also a silver lining to free or inexpensive marketing tactics: you can try out several to see which ones work for your business. That way, you don’t have to worry about investing in a new type of marketing that doesn’t actually reach the right customer base. Once you figure out which different approaches and specific channels are best for your business, you’ll know where to focus your marketing dollars in the future. 

To help get your brainstorming session started, we’ve listed 5 simple but effective marketing ideas below. Some are tried-and-true old school techniques, while others leverage the power of new media. 

Build on these ideas and tailor them to your business model and local community, and you’ll be on your way to a marketing strategy that brings in valuable customers without breaking the bank.

 

1. Create a customer referral program.

With limited wiggle room in your marketing budget, you may not be able to splash out on lead generation. However, if you have happy customers, you may be able to get them to bring in others who would also love your products or services. We all know word-of-mouth marketing works making it worth the time to find a way to inspire your customers to share their positive experiences with your brand.

Fortunately, in the age of social media, sharing is easier than ever. Consider introducing a customer referral program that rewards existing customers for referring new customers. The reward can be simple, but it should also be something of value, whether that’s a discount, complimentary service, or other incentive. Not only will you earn new customers, but you’ll also leave your current customers happy to maintain their relationship with your brand.

 

2. Conduct a customer satisfaction survey.

Surveys are great on several accounts. First, they provide you with essential data about your customer base. Second, they keep your brand in customers’ minds and, if they’ve had a positive experience, remind them of that experience. Finally, if a customer responds to a survey with a less than positive response, it gives you the opportunity to fix the problem and win back a favorable review. 

Surveys can be conducted in a number of ways: at your store front, through email, or through a post on social media. The key is to keep them short and sweet and ensure the questions you ask provide you with actionable data.

 

3. Do some one-to-one marketing.

One-to-one marketing is all about building relationships with individual customers, showing your appreciation by giving them personalized attention. Handwritten postcards and birthday emails are a few examples, but the options are endless and can be tailored to the specifics of your industry and the kinds of interactions your customers will value most. 

Best of all, this strategy can be quite cheap–all it takes is a bit of time and creativity. Plus, if you use customer engagement software, you can easily automate these interactions while still keeping them personalized.

 

4. Hold a business card drawing and follow up with an email newsletter.

Business card drawings are a classic marketing tactic for a reason. They take little to no effort for both the business and the customer, and there’s some fun suspense involved thanks to the luck of the draw. Just put out a large jar or fishbowl at your reception desk with a note about when the drawing will take place and what prize the lucky winner will receive.

By the end of the drawing, you’ll not only have a happy customer who’s just won a free product or service; you’ll also have plenty of email addresses on your hands. Add these to your mailing list and send out a monthly email newsletter using free tools such as MailChimp.

 

5. Make informative videos that increase brand exposure.

Consider delving into video to capture the attention of new customers. YouTube offers access to a huge audience. With the right content, you can increase exposure to your brand in a cost-effective manner.

You can choose to film videos on topics that are parallel to your industry or videos about your business directly. Many companies find success filming informative how-to videos or answers to frequently asked questions. All that’s needed to start shooting is a smartphone, meaning this is a tactic even businesses with the smallest budgets can try on for size.

Marketing is all about seeing what works for your business and how your audience responds. Adding a bit of variety to how you approach marketing can breathe some new life into your brand and inspire you to reach out to potential customers in different ways. Give these techniques a try to explore new areas of marketing while sticking to your budget.

 

Even with 2020 in the rearview mirror, it’s readily apparent disruption levels in the retail industry will remain high for quite some time. Formerly reliable approaches to business simply won’t work in this new and rapidly changing environment. 

One of the most important things to realize is customers have gained a significant level of power, especially over the past year. Providing them with the best experience possible should be your top priority from here on out.

By saying consumers have power, we mean they have an incredible influence over the purchase choices of others. Thanks to social media and the reliability of word-of-mouth marketing, one happy buyer can result in increased demand for your product or service. Of course, the contrary is also true. The bottom line is customer retention and loyalty are the keys to business success.

Understand the Current Business Landscape with These Statistics & Key Takeaways

To offer a clearer picture of the current relationship between businesses and consumers, we’ve examined some of the latest studies on customer experience and retention so you can stay up to date on the best practices. Take a look at some of the most important takeaways for 2021 below.

1. The importance of customer service has leveled the playing field. According to Gartner, 81% of businesses compete primarily on customer experience.

2. Most companies understand the importance of going digital. In fact, Gartner reports that 67% of business leaders believe their business will no longer be competitive without embracing digital transformation. If you’re not part of this group, you may find you’re quickly left behind.

3.Understanding your Net Promotor Score (NPS) is key. A study by Bain & Company suggests differences in Net Promoter Score explain between 10% and 70% of the differences in revenue growth between direct competitors.

4. Consumers value a great experience, perhaps more than they value a bargain. According to PwC, customers are willing to pay up to a 16% price premium for a great customer experience.

5. As a business, you can’t count on being given a second chance. With 32% of customers willing to walk away from a brand they love because of just one bad experience, there’s little room for error. (Source: PwC)

6. In a study by Salesforce, 80% of customers say the experience businesses provide is just as important as its products and services. Therefore, businesses should view the experience they offer as part of their product.

7. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of customers state tailoring future interactions based on past engagement is key to winning their business. As a result, it’s clear personalization is an essential part of a great experience. (Source: Salesforce)

8. Bad experiences often have greater ramifications than positive ones. Since customers tell an average of 9 people about positive experiences, but an average of 16 people about negative experiences, businesses need to go the extra mile to prevent negative outcomes. (Source: Deloitte)

9. Business Wire offers a slightly different statistic, claiming satisfied US customers will share their positive experience with 11 different people. As this is no small number, word-of-mouth marketing may be more important now than ever.

10. Loyalty and points-based programs are having a major heyday, with 72% of US adults belonging to at least one loyalty program. (Source: Oracle)

11. Americans aren’t just willing to sign up for loyalty programs. They actively enjoy taking part in them. eMarketer suggests 58.7% of internet users believe earning rewards and loyalty points is one of the most valued aspects of the shopping experience.

12. The vast majority of consumers are open to trading a certain level of privacy for greater personalization. Bond reports that 87% of Americans are willing to have various details of their activity tracked in exchange for more personalized rewards and brand experiences.

13. Consumers have high expectations for brands that go well beyond the value of a simple product or service. A full 75% of consumers expect brands to make more of a contribution to their well-being and quality of life. (Source: Havas)

14. Customer service can make or break customer retention rates. A total of 69% of US consumers say customer service is very important when it comes to their loyalty to a brand. (Source: Microsoft)

15. Repeat purchases are also significantly affected by customer service experiences, with 93% of consumers more likely to make repeat purchases at companies with excellent customer service. (Source: HubSpot)

16. Although customer service is of the utmost importance, it seems not all businesses have gotten the memo. HubSpot reports that more than half of consumers, 54% to be precise, say they’ve had at least one bad customer service experience in the last month.

17. Businesses are still trying to figure out how to leverage technology to provide the kind of personalized experience their customers desire. A whopping 69% of US marketers believe technology has made it harder for them to offer customers personalized experiences. (Source: Acquia) Therefore, it’s clear that getting the formula just right could put you miles ahead of your competitors.

18. Loyalty is not a trivial concept, but rather a lasting relationship that can have a huge impact on both your brand’s reputation and the bottom line of your business. InMoment reports that 77% of consumers say they stayed loyal to specific brands for 10 years or more.

19. While the above statistic shows loyalty can be long-lasting, it is never a guarantee to be taken for granted. HubSpot offers evidence that 50% of US consumers have left a brand they were loyal to for a competitor that better met their needs.

20. One repeat purchase does not make a loyal customer, especially in the eyes of the consumer. Yotpo claims 37% of consumers feel they need at least five purchases to consider themselves loyal to a brand.

21. Freebies may mean more to your customers than you think and can actually play a role in building relationships. AP News reports 61% of consumers think surprise gifts and offers are the most important way a brand can interact with them.

22. Your customers want to know you value their opinions. According to Microsoft, 77% of consumers say they favor brands that ask for and accept customer feedback.

23. You don’t have to box yourself into traditional methods of customer service. Why not take advantage of new platforms? After all, 65% of customers aged 18-34 feel social media platforms are an effective channel for customer service. (Source: Microsoft)

24. Millennials aren’t willing to put up with bad customer service and are more than ready to go elsewhere after a negative interaction. Business Wire shows 74% of this age group will switch to a different retailer if they receive poor customer service.

25. The past year has been tough for customer acquisition, leading many brands to shift their focus to customer loyalty and retention. As a result, 90.2% of US consumers feel equally or more loyal to a brand than they were a year ago. (Source: Yotpo)

These statistics can help you begin thinking in terms of customer experience and better understand how important it is to focus on consumers’ needs during every step of the purchase journey. While one small misstep can cost you dearly, investing in customer experience is proven to reap tremendous rewards.

With so much hubbub around the importance of social media in brand marketing and customer interaction, it’s easy for brands to let their websites go by the wayside. However, your website plays an essential role in your customers’ experience. It’s the central hub around which both potential and return customers congregate, providing you with ample opportunities to secure new business and build customer loyalty.

Your website doesn’t only offer a space to showcase your offerings and tell the story of your brand. If you view your site as a one-way street of information, you’re not taking advantage of its full potential. 

Your website doesn’t only offer a space to showcase your offerings and tell the story of your brand. If you view your site as a one-way street of information, you’re not taking advantage of its full potential. 

Building Blocks for Customer Loyalty on Your Website

Wondering how you can transform your website from a two-dimensional information station into an interactive experience for your customers? These four building blocks create a solid foundation on which you can use this platform to develop relationships with customers.

1. Customer Testimonials

With the right widget, customer testimonials add a personalized feel and attractive flair to almost any website. Requesting testimonials from customers makes them feel appreciated and emphasizes the fact that their opinions matter. When they see their words on your site, they’ll begin to view themselves as a representative of your brand.

Testimonials don’t only reinforce customer loyalty among existing customers. They also draw in prospective customers, providing them with the kind of trustworthy, experience-based information they’re looking for about what to expect from your brand.

Of course, testimonials aren’t only trophies to look at. They should be acted on as well. Any insight you receive from customers about their purchase experience will help you better understand what’s working and what’s not.

2. Customer Experience Analytics

While testimonials offer a written account of the customer experience, analytics represent the digital body language of customers. Customer experience analytics are vital to ensuring your website is effectively reaching customers and providing them with a smooth purchase journey. By facilitating a positive experience, you’re increasing the likelihood customers will return and develop loyalty to your brand.

With customer experience analytics, you’ll have access to a detailed analysis of how customers interact with your website. From the most frequently visited pages on your site to the products customers keep returning to look at, you’ll quickly see the most popular elements of your site. 

You’ll also learn about the types of content customers find uninteresting and any areas of friction that repeatedly come up during the purchase journey. Understanding these patterns can help you increase conversion and customer retention. 

As you make any necessary changes, you’ll also have the ability to measure the difference your adjustments are having on your overall bottom line.

3. Valuable Content

You put a lot of time and effort into your content. That’s why it’s important you’re producing the kind of content your customers want to see. With fresh, useful content on your site, you’ll have a better chance of customers making repeat visits to check out what’s new.

The goal is to become a trusted source of information for your customers, a kind of authority within your industry. That way, you can ensure they return to your site, even if they’re not yet ready to make a repeat purchase. 

By providing relevant content that’s useful to both prospective and existing customers, you’ll increase the likelihood they become vocal advocates for your brand.

4. Customer Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs offer customers an incentive to keep coming back for more, make them feel appreciated, and inspire word-of-mouth marketing. Using your website as the hub for your customer loyalty program will open opportunities to catch their attention and encourage repeat purchases.

As they visit the public-facing side of the site, they’ll have a chance to browse what’s new. Then, they’ll log in to a members-only area where they can check their points, cash in on rewards, and view members-only content. 

Personalizing this area of the website and giving it a unique feel with notifications for events, discounts, and reward eligibility will drive proactive engagement from customers and promote greater levels of interaction.

With these building blocks in place, you can work on developing a loyal following who sees your website as a portal into a community of other brand advocates. Over time, you can transform your website into a two-way street that attracts customers not only for its wealth of information but also for its opportunities to connect and engage with your brand.