We’ve shared countless times the importance of reviews when it comes to establishing credibility and showing up in local ranking. But what’s harder to define is just how influential reviews are on customer behavior. So much so, that some of us trust reviews from strangers as much as our friends or family.
While the topic could be researched by psychologists, we’re here to provide you with a basic understanding of why customers write reviews and how they influence others’ online behavior — and ultimately, their decision to buy from you.
Why Customers Write Reviews
Have you ever left a review? Think about what your motivation was. For example, if you had a terrible experience, you may want to leave a review to protect others from having the same situation. Or if you had a great experience maybe you feel the need to support that business from the goodness of your heart. But where does that come from?
There are many motivations for writing reviews
A survey on user-generated content and customer reviews suggests that the main drivers fall into a few categories. Though this information is a little older, we still feel the motivations hold today:
- Altruism: To help others find a great undiscovered product or service
- Justice: To punish a business that wronged you
- Reciprocity: To acknowledge and reward a business that went above and beyond
- Recognition: To win distinction as an important or top contributor
- Social image: To project one’s personality or lifestyle through content syndication
- Self-expression: To cultivate one’s opinions and experiences within a community of like-minded people
- Personal interest: To pursue a passion or share a topic one cares about
Of these categories, “altruism” and “reciprocity” are what reviewers themselves frequently cite as the motivation to write reviews. Whether or not these selfless impulses truly or fully motivate reviewer behavior is, of course, another matter. To say you wrote a review to “help others” is no doubt more socially acceptable than to say you wrote it to be envied, admired, or loved by others — which is how you might truthfully express a desire for “recognition” or “social image.”
All of this is to say, we have to start by understanding why customers write reviews to then understand the power of those reviews.
2 Major Ways Reviews Influence Customer Decisions
1. They show if your business is real, credible, and trustworthy
Because of the reasons customers leave reviews and the fact that companies have little to no control over what customers say about them, they’re trusted. Reviews are just hard to dispute. Even with the occasional fake reviews or review gating (a big no-no).
And trust in online reviews is on the rise. According to Moz’s local business review survey, 86% of consumers say reviews are an important factor in gauging trust in a local business. And only 11% of consumers trust brand messaging over public sentiment. So without reviews, your messaging and credibility likely fall flat.
2. They provide valuable details about your product or service
Hundreds of stats and studies confirm how powerful online reviews are in getting customers to buy or try new products, services, and local businesses.
Consumers today have access to a wide range of information on products and services. But oftentimes the best way to find out more details on a product or service is through the reviews.
And review sites make it easy to do that with filters and keyword searches. So not only are reviews important as a collective measure of your brand’s trustworthiness. Individual reviews can also hold a lot of sway with customers. As a result, it’s important to frequently capture new reviews and try to get more detailed and helpful reviews.
The Takeaway: Reviews Are Worth More than Face Value
If you’re going to maximize the value of reviews, you should start with an understanding of what motivates customers to write reviews in the first place. Only then can you leverage this knowledge to get more customer reviews.
And remember, online reviews are not just about influence — they create visibility. Especially in smaller markets, getting online reviews is one of the most effective and inexpensive SEO tactics you can implement.
Customers have a powerful voice, access to critical information, and shared memory afforded by online reviews. While it may seem like this empowerment of the customer should come at a cost to businesses, those who recognize the value gain immensely. As an agency or business, you have much to benefit from reviews and review management:
- Our most trusted and effective marketing is being done for us by customers
- Customers provide more info about an offering than advertising can, and that helps differentiate it from the alternatives
- This kind of marketing lives on for much longer than a promotion, paid advertising, or other marketing tactics
- Reviews provide focused, real-time business intelligence to assist with quality improvement and competitive analysis
Make Review Management a Revenue Generator
Review management is a profitable marketing strategy to implement for your clients — or business. Given the overwhelming influence that consumer opinions carry, properly managing reviews can have a more significant marketing impact, at a lower cost, than almost any paid advertising. Managing a client’s online reviews is a great way to get your foot in the door and quickly have a positive impact on a client’s business. But getting reviews is easier said than done — let GatherUp help.
With a customizable, white-label platform focused on automation and reporting across multiple brands and locations, GatherUp can scale your reputation management efforts. We make it easy for you to get, monitor, and respond to reviews. Just see for yourself.