Alex Butzbach

Traditional advertising is so different from content marketing, mostly because of how information flows between companies and consumers. Conversations aren’t as one-sided as they once were, and while this might seem to primarily benefit customers, it actually gives businesses excellent data for improving their engagement efforts.

Consider the concept of online reviews: They provide customers with insights about businesses they wouldn’t otherwise have, and some industries are very nearly defined by them. For instance, a recent TripAdvisor survey found that 76 percent of consumers always consult online reviews before making reservations for places to stay.

Any review is good news

Unfortunately, not every content marketing professional is working for a hotel. Still, consumers across the board take reviews seriously. As many as 90 percent are influenced by online reviews, according to a Dimensional Research study from 2013.

A lack of reviews don’t just impinge on a company’s ability to present itself as a good investment to potential customers. Brafton reported that 33 percent of marketers see their SEO efforts harmed by a lack of customer reviews. Companies should be using sites like Yelp whenever possible to allow clients and consumers to sing their praises to other consumers.

Putting reviews in your content

But you can be on all the right sites and still struggle to get the reviews you need. It might take time to get enough participation, however, and you still need to provide the value that customers want from reviews. There are a number of ways you can produce content that will help fill the role of a review. Consider:

stars rating review customers four five

  • Social media responses. Users often turn to sites like Facebook or Twitter to register their happiness or displeasure with a company. If you’re active on these platforms, you can find positive or negative mentions and either highlight or address them, respectively.

  • Promotion. If your company has received any accolades or awards in the offline world, make sure to bring this to the attention of online readers. They might not give it quite as much weight as a customer review, but it demonstrates the same kind of value.

  • Case studies and success stories. Reviews illustrate the positive experiences people have had when doing business with your company, and an in-depth case study about a particularly good relationship with a client or customer can serve the same purpose.

Of course, it’s important to understand that a large part of the value of reviews is that they’re organic and natural. For instance, a recent study by UnBounce found that across-the-board excellent reviews can actually be harmful to a company. There’s a strong correlation between rating variability and eventual conversion, so keep this in mind when finding ways to camouflage review-type content in your marketing efforts. As long as you’re honest about your business, customers will follow.