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The Importance of Online Reviews

If you’ve ever shopped online, chances are that you’ve seen and considered reviews for merchants you shop with and products that you’ve browsed. Customers prefer real testimonials to marketing fluff, so it’s no surprise that reviews are the fastest growing social marketing tool for online stores. According to a 2012 study, almost 33% of shoppers trust reviews over a particular brand or its marketing. If you’re considering adding reviews to your website or online store, there are a few things you should know.

Online reviews are a becoming a big factor in determining your placement in search and shopping results. Total number of reviews, review quality and length, and trust of your review platform all play a big role. A 2013 study reported that almost 85% of users considered reviews before visiting a new restaurant, hiring a contractor, or making a major purchase, so it’s no wonder that search engines take reviews into account more than in the past.

In general, there are 3 different types of reviews.

Merchant reviews are a measure of trust in your business in general. When someone fills out a merchant review, they’re reviewing your customer service, shipping time, and overall quality of shopping experience. Merchant reviews are powerful incentives to trust your brand.

Product reviews rate the quality of individual products. Product reviews help build trust in the particular brand of a product, and allow customers to read personal stories from other buyers who’ve used that product, as well as share those reviews on social media. In fact, 42% of all Amazon customers have left product reviews, and products with postiive review have sold 200% more than those with no ratings. The best and most trusted review programs only allow reviews from someone who has actually bought that product.

Local Reviews are reviews you collect either in your physical business location or on the go (using a tablet or phone, for instance). You can then syndicate that review to many online lists and social media platforms to get you the most exposure available when someone searches your business.

While you can always install a simple review plugin or use whatever comes built-in with your e-commerce platform of choice, it’s far better to have reviews collected by a Google and/or Microsoft approved third-party review company. Those reviews are guaranteed to be from actual customers, which means they can’t be faked. Depending on who is collecting your reviews, can be used to boost your visibility and attractiveness in Google Adwords, Google Shopping, Yahoo and Bing ad networks.

We’ve found Shopper Approved to be the best review company overall. Their prices are highly competitive and their customer service is top notch. Their review management tools are easy to use, and they’re one of the most trusted names in the business. Shopper Approved collected 70% more review and are historically more visible on search engines than their competitors. Most importantly, their ratings are fed to Google so shoppers will see your review stars when browsing Google shopping.

Want to get started with reviews for your website or online store today? VenturaU can set you up with a 30-day free trial of Shopper Approved. For more information, contact us today.

Using Social Media to Your Advantage

Understanding and taking advantage of the benefit of social media is crucial to any e-commerce marketing strategy.  Knowing where to start with social media can be intimidating, but it’s really not so bad once you understand the basics.

Let’s take a look at the top 4:

Facebook. Using Facebook is probably one of the most effective ways to advertise online today. Not only can you specifically target custom audiences that will benefit your business, you can target their friends as well. This means the net you can cast to boost your sales can be as large as you want it to be – think of it as word of mouth via the web. Currently, Facebook has over 1.15 billion users. Think about how many potential customers that could mean for your business, and the power to reach all of them is literally at your fingertips! Advertising on Facebook is easy, relatively cheap, and fast. Your ads become live the second they are approved, and in most cases this means the same day you submit them. Targeted advertising has never been so simple.

 
Twitter. Having a presence on Twitter is less important than being on Facebook, but it’s still crucial. It’s an easy way to share articles, promotions, links, etc. that directly relate to your business. You’re not limited to followers or people liking your page. You are able to get your promotions out to the entire Twitter community simply by posting a few words and a few hashtags. Most of the users on Twitter that follow companies or brands do it to get access to exclusive content; this gives you the upperhand in being able to give out “exclusive discounts” for your Twitter followers, it encourages loyalty to your brand. Plus, Twitter offers analytics that allow you to analyze your Tweets and understand exactly what it is your followers are looking for.

 
Instagram. Instagram is obviously image based – which is great news for you! Images are the quickest way to get your message across almost instantaneously. Post colorful graphics promoting a sale, photos of products, coupon codes… as long as it’s eye-catching, the users on Instagram will respond, tag their friends, and spread word of your business far & wide. Advertising on Instagram is simple – you can use the Ads Manager on Facebook and control both your Facebook & Instagram ads in one place. This simplifies the task of coordinating your promotions and enables you to advertise on two platforms in one convenient place. In addition to convenience, it’s been proven advertisers on Instagram are seeing results thanks to Instagram’s Advertising Solutions which include but are not limited to Clicks to Website, Website Conversions, Page Post Engagement, and more. Oh, and #DontForgetTheHashtags.

 

Pinterest. Let’s not forget about this one. Pinterest is frequented by such a diverse user base it’s a great place to get your message out to more than one type of audience. Since Pinterest is category based, this gives you the opportunity to organize the different products/services you offer into specific boards so they are easier for your customers to find. What’s great about Pinterest is that every pin you post has a link that leads back to the source of the image, which means users are only one or two clicks away from being on your site. The average lifespan of a pin is 3 months, which is 1,000 times longer than Facebook or Twitter, so Pinterest makes it much easier for users to find you and your products. It’s great for boosting inbound clicks, keeping your content fresh, and since keywords are crucial it’s excellent for SEO.

 
Still feel intimidated? That’s where we come in. VenturaU specializes in marketing & social media presence. We can help you get yours started or help you improve your existing one – either way, we want to help! Contact us today to see what we can do for you.