Many eMarketers complain that it’s hard to generate enough content. Maybe it’s time to stop talking about your company and let others do it for you. The best marketers for your company are your customers. You can let them share their voice through email!
In this age of online and smart phone wielding shoppers, customer reviews are having a huge impact on click-and-brick sales. But that’s not the only reason to seek them out. The other is content marketing. Generate customer reviews and you are generating content: hyper-relevant, keyword-rich, share-worthy, objectively written content. This is content you can use and re-use via any marketing channel you want.
Customer reviews beat even the best-crafted marketing messages because people are less likely to believe what you say about you, and much more likely to believe what others say about you, good or bad. Plus, today people are busy. Unlike my parents’ generation that would comb Consumer Reports for information before making a major purchase, today’s consumers barely have time to cook, let alone comb. Reviews make it easier for them to make immediate decisions.
People also want affirmation that they are making the right choice. Human nature is the reason we have trends and fashions: people want to fit in and belong. They want to have what others have, and the security of knowing they’re not an oddball. Reviews provide that peace of mind.
So it’s no surprise that 70% of Americans read reviews before making a purchase, according to “Winning the Zero Moment of Truth” by Jim Lecinski. Another great statistic comes from CompUSA via a slideshare by Dr Paul Marsden titled “Social Commerce: The Case for User Reviews.” Right there on slide 8, it says 63% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase from a website that has reviews.
Customer review as content marketing and SEO
When it comes to content, customers are king. Feedback from customers provides objective, reliable content potential buyers want to read. Plus it will provide great content that search engines will love. Written reviews are naturally keyword-rich because customers are using the words other customers use. Plus that’s content you’re generating without having to create it. There is no cost to you. Finally, there’s a share value too, because a published review is likely to get shared among the reviewer’s social network.
The more reviews you receive, the more content generated, content that you can put to work right away as part of your online marketing content. Reviews can provide the basis for blog posts and tweets; they can be used in email marketing; they can appear on your company’s Facebook page; they can be used in direct mail; and they can even be used in longer content such as articles or even case studies.
Beyond content marketing, reviews will bolster the credibility of your marketing claims in email and on your website too. Remember the statistic from above: 63% of customers are more likely to buy from a website with reviews on it. Is your website appealing to that two-thirds?
How to get those reviews rolling in
Regardless of where you use the content generated by a reviewer, it’s email that’s going to get you that content to start with. This is where automated email marketing can really go to work for you.
It’s simple: you set up a post-purchase campaign that’s triggered upon purchase. Make these follow-up emails into a campaign so you’re sending more than one—to the folks who didn’t reply to the first one, that is. Thank them for their business and ask them for their feedback. Make it easy. Make it clear. Try not to make them have to register or come up with a user name and password if you can avoid it. We want this review submission process to be as easy and seamless as possible. Remember: friction slows motion. Eliminate the friction so the customer keeps moving…toward a submitted review.
If they choose to write a review, take them to a simple, straightforward landing page where they can do so. Make writing it easy, as well as submitting it. And follow up the submittal with another email, thanking them for their review and letting them know where to find it or else telling them you’ll notify them when it goes live, or something….you need them watching their inbox, wanting to hear from you again. When customers see your link to their review, they will likely share it with all of their friends via all social media channels they use!
Adhere to all of the usual email marketing best practices with these emails. Have a friendly From line, a subject line that makes sense, and a very clear message in the email. You’ll also want to test every aspect of this post-purchase campaign, from the timing of the first follow-up email to the forms on the landing page to the prompting you give. As with anything worth doing in email, soliciting these customer reviews is important, so keep testing and tweaking and constantly improving. Because this isn’t about getting all kinds of kudos and pats on the back from customers. It’s about generating great content you can market with.
Take the good with the bad
Asking for feedback is opening yourself and your company up to criticism. Do not fear the bad reviews! Learn from the bad ones, and be willing to share them if they will prevent other unhappy customers. After all, it could be a valid complaint, like your app doesn’t work on a Droid (yet). Those expressing the challenges they experienced can save others from even trying…thus cutting down on even more complaints. Plus thanking your customers for their constructive complaints, via your Twitter and Facebook presence, makes you look responsive, human, and friendly as a company.
Use bad reviews to make improvements in your product, service, or delivery if the complaints are valid. Use them to try to make things right with an unhappy customer. The point is, bad reviews are your friend, and a potential resource for learning to be better, thereby earning even more good reviews. Plus a website with only good reviews is just a tad bit suspicious, don’t you think?
Good or bad, pretty or ugly, right or wrong, customer reviews can be a wonderful weapon in your content marketing arsenal. Talk to your email service provider soon to see what your automated email marketing capabilities might be and if a post-purchase review email campaign can work for you.