Word-of-mouth is the big differentiator. It can make or break a brand, increase conversion rates and catapult a company to new levels.
And that was before the Internet even existed.
In this new interconnected world, word-of-mouth buzz matters more than ever before--and that's why you need to convince your customers write software reviews.
Social media makes it easier than ever for people to solicit recommendations and referrals from friends and family members--and those referrals carry with them an awful lot of clout.
Consider these stats:
74 percent of consumers say they consider word-of-mouth buzz before making a purchasing decision, according to Ogilvy
84 percent of consumers say they trust (somewhat or completely) the product and service recommendations of family, colleagues and friends, according to Nielson
88 percent of people online say they trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they do those which come from personal contacts, according to BrightLocal.
Now you know why word-of-mouth buzz can set you apart from the competition--for better or worse.
Your job is to make sure it's for the better by convincing key customers to write online software reviews.
1. Keep it simple
If there's one thing people like online, it's simplicity. So make sure you're using a platform that makes it easy for users to leave reviews on your website.
Consider those provided by Bazaarvoice, Reevoo, Turnto, Rating System or Review Script. They're all simple to install and easy for your customers to use.
2. Put it in prominent positions
Amazon does a lot of things incredibly well, which is why they are currently one of the mot successful companies in the country. It's also why you should study the way they integrate customer feedback into the site's content--and then do the same.
Putting reviews into the site copy on product pages makes it a more prominent part of the page--and naturally encourages customers to share their thoughts.
3. Don't discriminate
Bad reviews hurt, but you shouldn't discriminate against them because leaving them on the site builds trust and credibility. If you discriminate against bad reviews and make a point of filtering or editing them, you risk losing all credibility across your entire site.
After all, if a company is willing to omit negative reviews, what other information are they withholding from their customers?
4. Interconnect everything
Imagine how powerful a positive review could be if it were to go beyond your website and reach the social media sphere. It would potentially be seen by your customers friends and family, who are not only likely to read it but also trust it.
It can happen if you make sure that your website reviews have the ability to connect with social media platforms. Facebook's Open Graph is a great place to start. You should also use links to allow customers to easily share their software reviews on Twitter, Google+ and other social mediums where you have a presence.
It's amazing what a little encouragement--such as an online drawing--will do to encourage customers to write online reviews.
Let your customers know that anyone who writes an online review will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win some sort of prize.
But be careful not to give the impression that you are trying to compensate customers for positive reviews. The last thing you want to do is make it appear that you are offering free merchandise or (even worse) money in exchange for kind words about your business or brand.
This is one of the easiest and most often overlooked ways to convince customers to write online software reviews. If you ask loyal customers on Facebook to submit reviews (and include a link to your online review form), many will help you out.
8. Make the most of email
Soliciting online reviews isn't only about social media. As many marketing professionals know, email is still an effective and efficient way to reach customers.
And it can help you generate online reviews.
Make sure you are making the most of email by sending follow up emails to customers a few weeks after they make a purchase--and request that they write an online review.
9. Be responsive
If you ask people for feedback, the least you can do is read what they write and respond when necessary.
Responsiveness shows that you truly care about their opinions, value their feedback and are willing to address their questions. It also increases the likelihood that others will join the conversation by adding their own reviews.
Ajay Prasad is the Founder and President of GMR Web Team, a leading healthcare digital marketing agency. He guides small and medium size healthcare practices/businesses in customizing their online marketing strategy, focused on building a loyal base of patients and improving their patient acquisition. Ajay believes in an improved patient experience as the key to successful healthcare business, which can be accomplished with the right marketing plan in place.