The Value of Online Reviews and Customer Feedback in Your Digital Strategy

Over the past five years, the digital marketing landscape has shifted dramatically. What worked in years past is no longer sufficient in driving traffic to a given website. New tools, coupled with evolving search engine algorithms, have provided digital marketers with new challenges to overcome. Online marketing for insurance agents is no exception. Search engines have placed greater importance on the concept of local search, or connecting customers with the businesses around them. Here, online reviews and customer feedback are instrumental in creating signals that are interpreted by search engines, helping improve rankings in both organic and local search results. Making the most of this customer feedback is the path toward success in the digital marketing realm.

Online Reviews: Influencing Consumer Behavior

Numerous studies conducted by digital marketing experts have suggested that online reviews form a critical part of the shopping experience for users. In fact, a study completed in 2015 polled 1000 Google users in a survey; in that study, over 67% of all respondents indicated that they were influenced in some way by the online reviews available to them. Reviews can appear anywhere, from third-party review sites like TripAdvisor, Zomato, and Yelp to online review submission tools on popular shopping platforms such as Amazon and Google Shopping. Reviews are a prominent part of social media as well; companies that have established social media profiles on Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest can actively collect reviews from customers.

While it is clear that consumers use reviews to make purchasing decisions, for digital marketers the challenge comes in getting consumers to write their own reviews. Generating reviews serves as a brand-building endeavor, potentially encouraging other consumers to do business with a given insurance company, for example. For the purposes of online marketing for insurance agents, this review generation can also provide valuable signals to search engine algorithms. The more reviews a given business receives, the more authority and relevance it is granted in search results, thereby improving search visibility. To overcome the challenges posed by reviews, some companies have provided incentives to customers, offering a discount on future purchases by leaving a favorable review. These so-called “incentivized reviews”, while effective, may run afoul of rules imposed by shopping platforms and third-party review sites.

Too many positive reviews can actually harm a company’s prospects rather than help; customers presented with an incentive to leave a review tend to lean toward excessive positivity. To counteract that tendency and to leverage online reviews as a valuable part of the shopping experience, there are ways companies can encourage legitimate user reviews, including:

  • Asking! It never hurts to simply ask customers to post a review.
  • Creating a game or social media promotion where one of the tasks to complete is to leave a review.
  • Using email lists to send reminders to customers to post a review if they were satisfied with the company and its services.
  • Adding features to the website to facilitate easy creation of reviews.

Customer Feedback: Building Trust with Consumers and Search Engines Alike

Customer feedback has long been a part of the business-customer relationship. The smarter companies over the years have actively encouraged their customers to provide feedback, indicating what they did or did not like during a business interaction. This customer engagement is even more important in the highly-competitive online marketing landscape, where new tools and strategies allow customers to provide their thoughts on a transaction easily and quickly. There are many reasons why customer feedback is valuable to businesses. First, it gives a company the chance to understand consumer experiences, allowing the company to adjust its services based on positive or negative feedback received. Secondly, this feedback may also point to new offerings in products or services; consumers indicating a specific desire can spur the development of solutions to satisfy those desires.

As with reviews posted online, customer feedback provides valuable signals that search engines use to determine a company’s authority. In online marketing for insurance agents, customer interaction is key in developing favorable rankings in search results. Fostering customer feedback is only part of the puzzle, however; engaging with those customers is the other. Studies have shown that engaged customers also tend to be repeat customers; when a company has gained customer trust, that customer is far more likely to return time and again. Customer engagement builds brand loyalty, positioning the given company for future growth. By increasing the number of signals this interaction creates, it also improves organic search traffic to the company’s website or web properties. Digital marketing is a complex process, with many tools and strategies needed to successfully navigate the challenging online environment. By encouraging consumer reviews and feedback, insurance firms of any size can rise to the challenges, gaining insights into the consumers and how they can shape the company’s future growth to satisfy emerging needs.

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