You already know that reviews are essential to any online business. But you may not know just how much instrumental they are in terms of closing more customers.
A whopping 93% of consumers say online reviews have an impact on their purchasing decisions. A further 82% report that a review has recently convinced them to complete a purchase.
Word of mouth is still one of the most trusted sources of information during the buying process.
Even if people don’t know the person leaving a review, they still trust that review more than the best promotional copy you’ll ever be able to write on your behalf. There’s a power to reviews that you can’t replicate elsewhere.
Digital products aren’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when marketers think of reviews, though—usually, they think of Yelp for local businesses or Amazon for physical products. While it’s true these platforms rely heavily on reviews, they’re still just as crucial for products that have no physical footprint.
And if you’re still just thinking about whether or not to sell digital products, consider these benefits to choosing this type of business model.
- You don’t have to worry about shipping products around the world
- Your customers don’t have to wait to get what they paid for
- Your costs are lower than with a physical product (no inventory and storage)
Even more importantly, you can also scale your customer acquisition completely online too.
Leverage tools like starting a blog to attract customers with compelling content — and secure sponsored posts with relevant influencers who can surface your brand to targeted pockets of new people. Experiment with social media ads to see which low-cost acquisition channels will be most effective at driving new business.
Right, so you’re convinced you should be selling digital products. Now how do you utilize reviews to help positively influence purchase behavior?
Here are six best practices for getting the most out of reviews in your online business.
1. Compile and Publish Real Customer Reviews
Unlike on Amazon or Yelp, the major platforms that keep all your reviews conveniently stored in one place that people already navigate to, you’re probably going to have to do some legwork to pull your reviews together.
Facebook and Google will both allow customers to leave reviews on your business page, and if you haven’t claimed ownership of your Google My Business page—or allow reviews to be published on your Facebook page yet, then it’s time to fix that.
You can also search for your product online and find reviews from people who’ve used your tool, taken your course, or read your book.
From tech writers to bloggers, ecommerce gurus to SEO experts, there are people in your niche who will try a digital product and write about their experience. It’s especially true if you have an affiliate program, they can join and earn commissions on the referrals they send your way.
Once you have some reviews in hand, pull out the most catchy quotes, and make sure to feature good reviews prominently on your home page or product landing page. You want to emphasize social proof where you’re trying to convince your customer to buy.
Noted marketing guru Neil Patel says of companies using reviews, “It builds trust and pushes the reader to dig a little deeper into their product. I highly recommend finding a way to take some of your reviews and sprinkle online testimonials throughout your website to help improve your conversion results and prompt further reviews.”
Reviews of Neil Patel’s digital products consistently show the extent to which he provides value to his customers.
2. Solicit More Reviews
When people buy your product, you’re (hopefully) sending them a follow-up email campaign to check in and see how they’re doing after getting started.
Why not work a request for a review into that email you’re already sending?
The best way to achieve this is to put links in your email to the exact destinations where customers can leave a review of your product. Facebook and Google are the obvious choices for a digital product, and you can later repurpose those reviews to highlight on your website.
Just be sure that whichever platform they’re using to leave their review is one that’s publicly visible and not one that’s going to get drowned out in the noise.
A lot of times, customers may leave reviews through a payment processor like Square—this is more common with physical businesses that have a storefront. Those reviews won’t get noticed the same way as something on your homepage or prominently placed on your Google or Facebook pages.
Soliciting feedback from your customers isn’t just good for getting reviews; it also helps them feel a little more connected to your company. Incorporating it as a part of a follow-up email campaign is worth the marginal amount of extra time it takes.
3. Respond to Reviews
Reviews aren’t just a one-way street when it comes to communication. They should foster a dialogue between your company and the customers that are either satisfied or unsatisfied with your product.
As Moz notes, when you respond to a review now, you’ll trigger a notification to the person who reviewed it. That makes this process evolve from something that’s a “nice to have” to becoming a necessity. And it needs to be quick—preferably within the day at most, hopefully within a few hours after a review is placed.
Monitor your review pages and make sure you respond promptly. Your customer took time out of their day to give you feedback on your product and the way you do business, so it’s important to reciprocate that appreciation.
Building that open connection between your business and customers will help you sell more effectively because a satisfied customer is usually a customer that’s excited to tell their friends about what you’re doing.
Take, for example, my roundup of the best monthly hosting plans, where I took the time to review eight of the top web hosting companies in a very in-depth review that spans from giving unbiased reviews of not only the cheap hosting companies but also more premium brands that offer additional features. I published this review and comparison because of the great experiences I’ve had with them over the years.
On the flip side, though, an unsatisfied customer can be equally as influential. When you get a bad review, it’s even more imperative that you respond quickly and reassure them that you’ll fix whatever problem they experienced.
4. Have a Bad Review Plan in Place
No matter how great your products are, it’s inescapable that one day, you’ll get a bad review.
You just will. Not everybody’s going to love what you do or how you present a solution. Not everyone will understand the information you’re providing in the same way.
And you’ll get legitimate criticism that’ll help you build a better digital product as well. Constructive criticism comes in the most helpful bad reviews, but sometimes you’ll get a review that may leave you scratching your head.
It doesn’t matter, though. Whether you think the criticism is legitimate or not, you need to respond promptly. Make sure users feel heard—and address the problem to the best of your ability. Regardless of whether the review is useful or not, people appreciate it when a company responds.
Put a plan in place for proactively dealing with these situations.
Responding to bad reviews is very simple. First, you need to acknowledge their concerns and apologize for the experience. That defuses the situation. Most people tend to be more conflict-averse than we think, so even that acknowledgment is enough to calm troubled waters.
But that’s not all there is to your response.
Next, you’ll talk about their experience more specifically. Try to contrast it to the regular experience people should expect, or your company policy. If they’re unsatisfied with the product as a whole, offering a refund and recommending an alternative may be the way to go.
Whatever you do, try to address the concern specifically and show them that this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be—that this is a diversion from the norm.
You’re not there to defend yourself, though. You’re there to make sure people feel heard.
Then take the conversation elsewhere if you can. Leave a contact they can reach out to if they want to pursue things more. Whether that be an email address or phone number, you need to give them an avenue to talk to you personally instead of venting on a public forum.
Don’t defend, don’t ask follow-up questions on the review and don’t get too detailed. You’re there for them, not for you. No one likes bad reviews, but treating them correctly defuses the situation and leaves people with a better impression of you and your product.
5. Use Reviews to Improve Your Digital Products
Behind every review, good or bad, is a customer who’s trying to tell you which direction you should take your digital product.
Customer feedback is one of the essential tools you have to figure out which direction you should take your product. You don’t want to incorporate every feature someone asks for—but when you see trends of things that you don’t have or things that you do provide that other companies don’t, you need to capitalize on that valuable information.
Don’t believe it? Ask Brian Clark, founder of the CopyBlogger empire.
When he first started, he didn’t even have a product, but slowly expanded the offerings they had, as he collected feedback. Clark’s business grew as a result of listening to the people he served, and as a result, it makes over $12 million a year in revenue today.
Not bad for not even having a product at first.
Learn from Brian Clark’s experience and incorporate what you hear in reviews as you make improvements to your product, or even come up with ideas for future digital products.
6. Share Reviews On Social Media
Why not incorporate reviews into your marketing plan and use them as compelling social proof on more than just your product pages?
If you get a particularly useful review, try pushing it out on your social media. Take a screenshot if it’s on your website, or if it’s already on social media, retweet or share it on that platform.
Social media will grab the people that are already following you, yet may not necessarily be purchasers—they might not even be thinking about buying your product until they see a positive review.
With this, you may be able to move them down the funnel to becoming actual customers slowly. It only takes a second, and it’s worth it. Consider picking up a social media monitoring tool, so you can see what people are saying about you, too.
Even if it’s not an official “review,” a post from a happy customer still counts the same to people who see feedback in their social feeds.
Embrace Reviews for Your Digital Products
If you haven’t put together a digital product yet, there’s no better time than the present.
It’s easy to sell through any number of direct channels. You can even use your website as an ecommerce platform. If you don’t have a website yet, it’s easy to get one started with affordable WordPress hosting and an easy-to-use WordPress theme that allows you to sell products directly to the readers on your blog.
Once you’ve launched your product, you can embrace the power of reviews and catapult your product (and company) to new heights. Reviews are one of the most versatile tools at your disposal. If you use them properly, the sky’s the limit.
So why wait? Start today. Build your digital product and use reviews to fuel your growth.
Ryan Robinson is a content marketing consultant to the world’s top experts and growing startups. He teaches more than 200,000 monthly readers how to start and grow a profitable side hustle on his blog, ryrob.com, and podcast, The Side Hustle Project.