The internet has empowered consumers in numerous ways, giving them a more direct connection with the brands they love (and hate), providing them with more choice and convenience, and giving them a means of quickly and easily sharing their opinions.

Thanks to a host of review and ratings platforms, customers can publish their views on a product or company with the touch of a button – and consult the views of hundreds and thousands of other customers when making a decision. According to a study conducted by BrightLocal in November 2019, 82% of US consumers read online reviews for local businesses, and the average consumer will read 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business.

For brands, this situation can often have them feeling on the back foot as they work to manage their reputation online and deal with any negativity that arises before it becomes a serious issue. However, customer reviews can be an asset for companies in multiple ways. As well as engendering trust from new potential customers, positive customer feedback can be applied in marketing, as part of product launches, as part of the customer experience, and more.

Econsultancy’s newly-published Ratings and Reviews Best Practice Guide takes an in-depth look at the feedback economy, its benefits and risks, and how marketers can capitalise on ratings and reviews as part of the marketing mix. Here are four tips from the report on how brands can incorporate customer feedback into their marketing and CX, complete with expert commentary from marketers who have put these tips into action.

Subscribers can download the full report for more actionable advice and examples regarding how to incorporate customer feedback into your marketing strategy.

1. Using customer feedback in marketing and advertising

Brands can use their average star rating and – with permission – the comments from customers in their marketing and advertising. Customer feedback can be used in anything from social media to online ads, traditional print advertising to TV and out-of-home (OOH) advertising.

Atom bank, for example, ran an OOH campaign on the London Underground in 2019 that featured the bank’s ranking as “the #1 rated UK bank on Trustpilot”. This tagline dovetailed nicely with the ad campaign’s overall message – that Trustpilot is “a bank that works for you”.

Leigh Peacock-Goodwin, Head of Marketing and PR for Atom bank, told Econsultancy’s research team that, “One of the KPIs was whether Atom was a trusted brand, and we did see an increase in that [brand trust] metric.”

Another brand, online pharmacy company MailMyPrescriptions.com, advertised its “near-perfect Trustpilot rating” in a 30-second television ad spot, together with examples of anonymised customer reviews, to demonstrate that the brand cares about “people, not profits”.

While it can take some reputation management work to gain a high average star rating in order to use this in marketing and advertising, the results will pay off as customers appreciate having their concerns responded to and addressed. Be sure to also invite your customers to leave a review if they enjoyed your product or service, in order to build up more positive feedback.

2. Gaining customer input on product launches

Detailed customer feedback about products is extremely valuable to brands. Social listening tools can be used to monitor consumer sentiment about a particular product post-launch, but this is less helpful in terms of anticipating issues or incorporating customer feedback into product development. For this, various brands have found ways to solicit feedback directly from loyal customers, create channels for them to share it, and use it in product development and launches.

Vauxhall, for example, has temporarily removed its Mokka model from the market and is due to relaunch it in 2021. Jonny Evans, Digital User Experience and Commerce Manager at Vauxhall, told Econsultancy that the brand will be using Feefo reviews to help the business identify which features are needed in the new model and how the car should make people feel. “We will use Feefo evidence along with our own NPS data to close the loop,” he said.

What is a Net Promoter Score (NPS) and why do you need one?

Digital marketing company Bazaarvoice has also built a community that enables it to gather feedback for brands on products that have yet to go to market. “It enables them to make any necessary tweaks,” said Sophie Light-Wilkinson, VP Marketing and Business Development EMEA at Bazaarvoice. “It also means they have lots of consumer content to share when it goes go live, which reinforces consumers’ reasons to purchase.”

3. Improving the online customer experience

Brands can incorporate customer reviews throughout their website, surfacing them at various touchpoints throughout the customer journey to help with consideration and encourage customers’ decision to buy from the brand.

According to Gabriele Famous, Chief Marketing and Brand Officer at Trustpilot, Trustpilot has seen conversions increase by as much as 150% when brands incorporate reviews into their website experience.

Glasses Direct is one brand that applies this strategy, surfacing reviews and ratings from customers at different points in the purchase journey. Its homepage features a prominent graphic celebrating “Over 100k reviews on Trustpilot”, and a USP bar that sits just below advertises the brand’s “Excellent” average rating. Further down the page, customers can browse a carousel of featured customer reviews and click through to the brand’s Trustpilot page to read more.

A carousel of customer reviews from Trustpilot, featured on the Glasses Direct website (source: Glasses Direct)

When browsing products, each pair of glasses is also displayed with an average star rating based on reviews that customers have left with the product, helping prospective customers identify the pairs that have been best-received by fellow shoppers. As Matt West, CEO at Feefo, told Econsultancy’s research team,

“Putting a good review of a product next to the basket or buy button on a brand’s website can have a really positive impact. “Brands should look at the customer journey and identify the points at which people want to make a decision – that might be to click through to the next page, make a purchase, or fill out a form for more information, for example.

“Some form of ratification or promotion by someone else who has engaged with that product, service or brand will generally only have a positive impact when you are asking them to make a decision to stay with you in some way.”

Products on the Glasses Direct website with star ratings displayed alongside (Source: Glasses Direct)

4. Creating brand ambassadors

Customers who leave positive feedback can, with nurturing, be turned into advocates for the brand who will then act as a de facto brand marketer, making recommendations and referrals and providing social proof. Talia Shani, Director of Marketing at Yotpo UK, told Econsultancy:

“Imagine that customer lifetime value is not merely measured by repeat purchase, but in [the customers’] ability to be effective advocates, growing the brand fan base and bringing in new paying customers.”

Vauxhall’s Jonny Evans added that reviews allow brands to start a conversation with customers that goes beyond star ratings. By encouraging people to share pictures of their purchase and their experiences with the brand, “[Vauxhall] is turning people who we have already convinced to buy a car into our brand ambassadors. They will be far stronger than anything we can do in marketing because ultimately, people buy from people.”

Learn more

For more detailed insight on how to develop a reviews management strategy, track ROI, and work with user-generated content, Econsultancy subscribers can download the Ratings and Reviews Best Practice Guide.