According to Janty Mohammed, online reviews have become the most powerful form of business marketing in 2021 as more and more consumers purchase online during the pandemic.
Mohammed is the cofounder and client experience director of Australia’s leading digital marketing agency, the Australian Institute Of Internet Marketing Services, also known as the AiiMS Group. He is also an industry thought leader and an expert on all matters involving online business and marketing.
“Reviews are now an essential part of the path to purchase for shoppers,” Mohammed said.
“The online environment is more competitive, more saturated and more fragmented. It is literally open warfare online as businesses vie for position to get the attention of shoppers and gain their trust.
“Shoppers are now 40 percent more likely to purchase from a brand online they have never heard of before. They are finding these new brands through online searches, forums, advertising and referrals from friends and family.
“Once they come across a new brand they are then undertaking research online to find out more about them and this is where reviews will either support the path to purchase or kill it.”
Mohammed states that over 90 percent of shoppers read online reviews as part of their research process to decide on whether to purchase a product.
He has provided tips for shoppers on what to look for when researching reviews.
Look for reviews across independent platforms
“While it is important for businesses to showcase positive feedback from customers on their own website, it is also essential for shoppers to research independent review platforms as well,” Mohammed explained.
“These include Google reviews, Product Review, Trust Pilot and others.
“Businesses need to ensure that they are managing and monitoring all review sites to ensure comments are responded to – good and bad.”
Look for current reviews
“Current reviews matter. 85 percent of shoppers believe that online reviews older than three months are not as relevant,” Mohammed said.
“When researching reviews, look for businesses with current reviews.”
Read the good and the bad
“It is important to look at the good reviews as well as the bad,” Mohammed emphasised.
“While positive reviews are nice to read, reviewing the negative ones will give you an idea of the types of experiences or issues customers have with the business and how well the business deals with the customer issues.
“In 2021 more than 50 percent of consumers believe the quality of reviews is important. In 2016, this figure was only 35 percent.”
Look for plenty of reviews
“Over 65 percent of purchasing decisions are influenced by online reviews. This means that shoppers are more likely to purchase a product if there are positive reviews and more of them,” Mohammed said.
“This is why it is important for businesses to ensure their customers are happy and to encourage them to leave a review.
“Shoppers are 21 percent more likely to leave a review if they have had a negative experience rather than a positive one.”
Watch out for fake reviews
“Even though creating fake reviews is against the law, sadly this still happens,” Mohammed explained.
“When doing your research on a business, product or brand and you find every review is 100 percent positive, this should ring alarm bells. The good news is that consumers are getting better at identifying fake reviews. If all reviews for a business are very positive, 95 percent of consumers think they are fake.
“Look for balanced reviews and where there are negative reviews – read through them to understand whether the business is making a constructive and genuine effort to address and resolve concerns. Naturally the positive reviews should out way the negative ones.”
According to Mohammed, reviews are now one of the most important issues for consumer and businesses in the online shopping environment.
“Over 70 percent of shoppers will not buy anything until they have done their research and read some reviews,” Mohammed said.
“Most shoppers will read an average of 10 reviews before they feel they can trust the business they are considering purchasing from.
“Consumers understand the importance of reviews and so should businesses. Not only do they grease the path to purchase for shoppers, online reviews now represent over 10 percent of Google’s algorithm for page ranking. If this isn’t the biggest incentive for businesses to get their reviews sorted, I don’t know what is.”
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