Long gone are the days where businesses feared customer reviews online. Finally, realising their potential in terms of building brand loyalty and awareness, more companies than ever before are turning to review management software to best oversee and respond to the thoughts, opinions and experiences of their customers.
What’s more, customer trust in peer reviews and their usage of review websites are both soaring. In a recent survey, we surveyed over 2,000 UK-based online shoppers and found that 72% of them had left a review for a product or service they had purchased in the last 12 months, with 64% of respondents reporting that they trust review websites. Our research also found that online shoppers are 49% more likely to trust a closed review platform than an open one, so it’s clear that featuring reviews from verified customers on a trusted third-party website is key.
Review management software allows brands to gather and properly administer their customer feedback, and allows consumers and potential customers to read this feedback when making buying decisions. There are two main types of review management software: self-serving and third party. The former is integrated within a business’ existing IT infrastructure and allows customers to leave reviews on the retailer’s own website. Whilst this does have SEO benefits (search engines love UGC – User-Generated Content), these review systems are often considered by consumers to be biased and are therefore not always trusted. While there is certainly more room for false reviews in favour of the business to be present on company websites, there doesn’t need to be evidence of this actually happening for consumers to think of them unfavourably. Self-serving review management software also often doesn’t entirely encompass customer presence – there is nothing to stop consumers still sharing their thoughts and ‘unofficially’ reviewing their products and services elsewhere.
Third-party review management software involves an independent company taking on the full management of customer review interaction… such as Feefo! This method of customer review management has numerous benefits over self-serve systems. So why go third-party? Here are 8 great reasons why.
1. Customer trust is at an all-time high with independent review management
The use of third-party review management software fosters brand loyalty and consumer trust in a way that self-serving systems can’t. Featuring only verified customers of a brand guarantees that reviews are authentic. This isn’t to say that customers are more likely to be negative than they would usually be, but that they feel others contributing are more likely to give a balanced account of their product or service experience. As our research found, consumers are more likely to trust third-party review management software sites than they are self-serving ones – and with trust-building in peer reviews, this is only likely to grow further.
2. Search engines value genuine UGC
UGC (User Generated Content) can be beneficial for both the search engine bots and the page visitors as it demonstrates authenticity for readers and relevancy to the bots and algorithms. Search engines bots are scanning the page and picking up keywords in the content. Naturally you would optimise the content for the most relevant keywords in order to rank for these. Adding customer reviews to the page will allow you to capitalise on the long-tail keywords that you missed or did not include for various reasons during the page optimisation, hence the number of keywords that the page can rank for may increase providing additional traffic and potentially more conversions or sales.
On top of that third-party review management software can contribute to ‘gold star’ snippets in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) – that can enhance your click-through rates from Google search result pages to your website even if the page ranks substantially below its competitors!
We can argue that there are additional SEO benefits of the reviews software and product reviews as these can enhance your time spent on page and decrease bounce back rates that are said to be a ranking signals.
3. Google recommends Feefo!
Google pulls data from a specific set list of trusted independent review software sites, and Feefo makes the list! This means that reviews from Feefo help aggregate your overall Google Seller Rating and are trusted as genuine, highly ranked content. Google Seller Ratings are free, but they’re not easy to achieve – so having Feefo onside really showcases your brand’s brilliance. Our market research found that 79% of online shoppers head straight to Google once they’ve decided that they want to purchase something, so there’s really no better place to stand out.
4. Third-party review software can facilitate customer-brand mediation
Should the worst happen, and a customer leaves you a negative review, an independent review management software provider can act as a mediator between both parties. This helps to cool off any heated exchanges and to engage in clear, open and honest customer communications. What’s more, should the situation between customer and company change, the customer can be invited to re-review the company, taking into account the ongoing communications and any change in the overall experience as a result. This may seem daunting, but can be hugely positive for brand reputation – once in a while, admitting you’ve done wrong and going out of your way to rectify that wrong can humanise your brand and display a commitment to delivering a great customer experience.
5. Third-party review management software can improve customer service
Self-serving review management software is restricted to the business’ own IT standards and systems, with little room for analysis unless it is built and integrated in. Third-party review management software providers are specialists, and so such solutions often come with additional tools to monitor, analyse and report on customer engagement, loyalty and sentiments. Here at Feefo, we offer a range of products that interact with our review management software, including some focusing on customer experience. After all, if you don’t invest time and effort into customer service, how will you ever improve your review scores?
We use the NPS (Net Promoter Score), a customer experience ranking tool to help businesses calculate the loyalty and likelihood of your customers recommending you to their friends and family. We can also build and distribute bespoke surveys to carry out primary qualitative customer research; helping to gain market intelligence and giving you the customer insights to continually do better. Implementing an attitude of continual improvement in your service really helps you ‘show up’ for your customer base and ensures you’re always at the top of your game.
6. Reporting tools turn market insight into market intelligence
Feefo’s industry benchmarking tools allow businesses to judge their current performance compared to their competitors to aid target setting. The Feefo review management software comes with reporting tools and an analysis hub as standard, so that statistics and data can be used for monitoring. These customer insights transform into customer intelligence, providing businesses with a better understanding of their areas of potential, risk and success. While the quantity of good star reviews tells you something overall, in-depth data and comments are hugely beneficial and can highlight areas for improvement that you may otherwise not have considered.
7. Feefo reviews can benefit your marketing strategy
As mentioned above, Feefo is one of Google’s few trusted review providers. This has knock-on benefits to users for their marketing – allowing for Facebook ad enhancements and Google Ads enhancements that those with self-serving review management software simply can’t access.
We also offer all of our customers a suite of additional marketing learning resources to help educate and inspire businesses of all shapes, sizes and types to better promote their products and services. Having good reviews is a great start, but knowing how to best utilise those reviews and improve your marketing strategy as a result is priceless. You needn’t have a large marketing department or pricey ad budget to shout about what your business is great at – we can help nurture your marketing strategy no matter what resources you have.
8. A merchant review page is a one-stop-shop for customer experience sharing
Third-party review software creates a merchant review page hosted on their own website. This collects and displays all customer reviews on a single page and links back to the merchant’s site, assisting prospective customers in their research journey whilst channelling the traffic back to the brand. The ‘one-stop-shop’ nature of a merchant review page means that all of the relevant data can be found in one place – satisfying the user’s desire for information without them having to carry out rigorous, time-consuming research across multiple platforms.
Due to the organic nature of merchant review pages, they’re often ranked on the first page of search results and are often seen in a very high number of searches alongside the brand’s own web presence.
How to choose the right review management software for your needs
As with anything in business, it's important that you’re able to make a well-informed and strategic decision in choosing the right review management software for your and your business.
Third-party review management software does have an associated cost, dependent on the additional features offered. In order to select the right review management tool for your business, it’s imperative that you research the proposition of review software providers, consider how the features align with your business goals and judge the value of the product for your business development.
Any questions on Feefo’s suite of review management services and software? Get in touch! We love to chat customer experience and we can truly help you put your customers at the heart of everything you do.