How authentic reviews help on every step of customer journey

Aleš Randa

8 min

From initial research to purchase and recommendation, quality reviews can meet the demands of consumers at every stage of their customer journey. Find out why and how in today's article!

What is the customer journey?

In marketing, it refers to the sum of all interactions a customer has with a brand before, during and after purchasing a product. It is an invaluable concept for companies to understand the mindset of their customers and then directly apply the insight gained to their sales strategy.

Customers typically go through 5 phases during their shopping journey

Originally there were only three, namely Awareness, Consideration and Conversion. However, with the advent of the digital marketplace, two more have been added, namely Retention and Recommendation.

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At all stages, customers are influenced by a multitude of factors that you as a brand need to keep an eye on. However, when we delved into the topic ourselves, we found that the level of your review marketing plays a crucial role. Find out why in the following chapters!

Phase One: Awareness

In the awareness phase, customers are solving a problem. Their computer is broken, they want to start living healthier, they need cheaper car insurance. So they sit down online and start looking. They'll read blogs, watch YouTube videos, scroll through hashtags on Instagram. Or they'll pick up the phone and call a friend who knows the industry. In general, they'll gather as much information as they can and research what their options actually are.

It is essential for brands to be visible in this search. That's why they tackle SEO, write company blogs, shoot videos, work with influencers, pay for PPC campaigns and send out newsletters. It must be clear that the search topic is yours and that you have a solid reputation in the industry. But among the other 12 million brands, it's more than easy to get lost in e-commerce. This is where quality reviews come in.

  • With a high rating you will be seen. Reviews and UGC make up up to 50% of the selection method Google uses to decide who to rank highest in search.
  • Quality reviews mean rich word of mouth. This is proven, for example, by the fact that 25% of the search results for the 20 biggest brands in the world are links to customer-produced content. If you're doing things right, people will promote you on their own.
  • With a good reputation, you can be sure that when it comes to personal recommendations, your name will be heard. Personal recommendations are important to up to 92% of people when making a purchase!
  • Reviews don't just include text, but also UGC such as videos, photos or posts on social media and other exposed platforms. Together, they again increase the chances that a customer will come across you when solving their problem.

Phase Two: Consideration

After initial research, customers find a few brands that they decide to explore further. Are you among them? Great, but it's not over yet...

In the consideration phase, customers will take a closer look at your products. They'll consider performance, price, reputation, aesthetics and practicality. Do you look credible? Does the product really work as intended? Do you offer something extra, like brilliant customer care or additional benefits?

Every brand tries to communicate this information in a way that convinces people to buy as part of its content marketing strategy. But there's a big problem - people don't trust traditional marketing anymore. That's according to a survey by the prestigious 4A's Association of American Marketing Agencies, in which a brutal 96% of respondents said they didn't trust advertising. So no matter how hard your copywriter tries, most customers don't believe anything you try to tell them, and because of recent scandals involving influential brands, they're also afraid of scams and fraud.

Reviews can solve this problem too.

  • Even if people don't trust marketing, they will still give a personal recommendation. Even in the form of an online review - 84% of people see it the same as advice from a friend.
  • 72% of people will also trust a new brand thanks to the large number of positive reviews. In the 18-34 age group, the figure is as high as 91%.
  • 98% of people consider reviews carefully when shopping. Why buy on trial when others will tell them what your product is really like?
  • Reviews communicate the strengths of your product range better than product descriptions. Buyers will only mention what really matters in terms that others can understand. Often they will also include a photo or video from real life. So it's no wonder that people trust review content up to twelve times more than that the conventional marketing.
  • You don't have to worry about negative texts either, people in the consideration phase need those too. Their goal is to clarify what the worst drawbacks your product has and whether they can live with them.

Phase 3: Conversion

Now it's everything. The customer thinks about the "order" button. He chooses a color combination. Or they get stuck at the last minute and postpone the purchase. As a salesperson, this is your last chance to deliver your strongest arguments and catchy CTAs. And so you push stats, brand stories, discount coupons, irresistible promotions...

But what if, once again, all you need is quality reviews? As we mentioned, people have a hard time trusting brands these days. Even in the Conversion phase, they therefore prefer to inform themselves in reviews rather than listen to your top-notch copywriting.

The following statistics prove that:

  • 87% actively search for reviews before each purchase, and for 93% reviews are a deciding factor.
  • Reading 5 positive reviews triples the chance that a customer will buy. Just one review can kick conversions up by 76.7%.
  • As the number of reviews increases, the conversion effect increases literally in direct proportion. The graph below shows this perfectly. What's impressive, for example, is the fact that doubling 100 reviews to 200 doubles conversions.
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  • Reviews are an effective part of targeted advertising. The case study of Blenders Eyewear is proof. It added reviews in the form of stars to its Facebook ads, and in no time at all, received a twofold increase in click-through rates. CPA dropped 38%, while ROAS increased 68%. Basically, the numbers you want to see.
  • The simple presence of reviews on a product page, perhaps in the form of stars, increases conversions by almost 9%.
  • Additionally, if the customer interacts with them in some way (perhaps clicks through to the full text) conversions increase by 100%.

Phase Four: Retention

The Retention phase is about creating a loyal clientele. Even if the customer has already purchased, as a brand you need them to come back again. This is because repeat customers are the most valuable cohort of your target audience:

  • Loyal customers spend up to 31% more than new ones.
  • You're up to 14 times more likely to sell something to an existing buyer than you are to get a new one.
  • Increasing customer loyalty by five percentage points will kick profits up by 95%.
  • It's up to 50% more expensive to acquire new customers than to retain existing ones.

How to support loyalty in the long term? Reviews have a lot to offer in this regard as well. They quickly create the impression of a stable community while providing precise insight into the needs of each individual customer.

  • New texts reassure existing customers that they are in the right place. They don't feel alone and know they are making a smart decision with every purchase, validated by the stories of hundreds of others.
  • With perfect reviews customers don't have to hesitate to buy again. They can easily keep track of how stable your performance is over time.
  • If you analyze the text of reviews regularly, you'll not only be able to spot mistakes quickly, but also focus more on what people enjoy. Inspiration is endless, you can use the information from reviews from product development to final product placement.

Last stage: recommendations

What does a satisfied customer who has been buying from you for a long time do? They will recommend you!

Nowadays, this will most often be through a review - and we probably don't need to remind you how important this is because of the trust crisis.

But how do you get customers to write as many texts as possible and not limit themselves to boring phrases like "works" and "satisfied"? A recent survey of 9,000 buyers addressed exactly this problem:

  • What motivates most is a great experience. The product, the packaging, the communication. Impress your customers and 92% will immediately tell about it in a review.
  • Of the material motivations, free product (86% will write a review) and a discount or loyalty points (73%) dominate.
  • 67% write reviews because they want to help others shop smarter. In addition, 51% are trying to gain a sense of brand identity as a tester.
  • 65% write texts specifically for you because they believe they help you improve the product.
  • 25% write reviews just to be validated by other readers.

Conclusion: you can't do marketing without reviews

From start to finish, reviews are one of the most important factors that guide customers through every significant buying stage:

  • In the Awareness stage, reviews ensure that you get seen.
  • In the Consideration stage, reviews create the quality social proof that is the only thing selling today.
  • In the Conversion stage, texts will kill off the last doubts and work as irresistible CTAs.
  • In the Retention phase, reviews will help you build a stable clientele.
  • In the Recommendation phase, reviews will get you even more so that you enter the next cycle with a much bigger advantage.

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