When you’re gauging the importance of online customer reviews, you can be persuaded of their importance by only one statistic — nine out of ten consumers read reviews. If you add other important statistics, such as that 84% of people trust online reviews just as much as they would trust a personal recommendation, and that the trust in online customer reviews has been steadily increasing, there’s no room left for doubt. If you want your website, your online business, or your brick-and-mortar business to thrive, you need to take online customer reviews very seriously.

And if you don’t want to join in on the fun, your competitors will. Businesses know how to acquire reviews and how to deal with bad or fake reviews. But that’s the easy part. Using existing customers to gain new ones as part of a content marketing strategy is an example of a extending the usefulness of online customer reviews.

Maximize the Number of Opinions

Setting up pages and accounts on review websites is not rocket science, and it’s important because it gives customers space where they can voice their opinions. It’s also easy to influence customers into leaving a review. There is more than enough strategies for it, including the most obvious one — asking for a review.

But to really make the most out of reviews, you need to dig deeper and look at what your customers are saying about your business outside of the designated review spaces. You should monitor social media mentions if you’re not doing it already. You should also save all of the best mentions you get because that can be a goldmine of honest and authentic reviews.

You can also mine your email communication with your customers for valuable quotes. If someone contacts your customer service, and they end up being happy with the help they get, they might have something nice to say about your business. And you might want to save it for future use. Just remember that it would be a good idea to ask people whether they’re fine with you using their words for what pretty much comes down to marketing. You don’t want the people whose opinions you’re using to boost your business to go around saying that you used their opinions without consent.

Maximize the Usability of Reviews

Credibility is one of the reasons every business needs a website. And one of the greatest tools you have at your disposal to build trust between your customers and your business, it’s reviews and testimonials. Testimonial and reviews overlap to a great degree, and you can use that to your benefit by picking great reviews and using them as testimonials on your websites. If you saved customer communications, you should have more than enough material to work with.

The first thing you need to be aware of is that testimonials work best if you don’t concentrate all of them in one place. If you have a single page on your website that’s dedicated solely to testimonials, the only thing you’ll do is make customers skip that page. Instead, use a good customer quote to improve every page. It’s a sneakier approach, but it works better than creating a page that shouts “look how great my products are!” in your customers’ faces.

The second thing you need to be aware of is that testimonials need to be really good in order to work. Testimonials that contain a story are good. Testimonials from relevant people are good. Testimonials that contain figures and statistics are good. Testimonials that go with a picture of the persons giving them are good. But if you want to use really good testimonials, pick those that contain as many of these traits are possible.

Use Reviews Creatively

According to Eric Sachs, a Los Angeles based SEO, customer reviews can also be mined for specific words and phrases that can help you write better website copy. It can also give you an idea what people like and dislike about your business, but that’s a given. Using reviews to guide your copywriting will ensure that you speak to your customers using the language they would use, which can make them more receptive to your message.

Finally, you should think about including reviews when communicating with your customers by email. If you send out a newsletter, you can use reviews to demonstrate the value and usability of your products. You can also use certain negative reviews to manage expectations and weed out the subscribers that are not your customer base. Remember, people will be more interested to hear what their peers have to say about your business that what you have to say. Never pass an opportunity to give them what they want.