Online customer reviews and testimonials have tremendous influence over the purchasing decisions of other consumers. According to Pew Research Center, 82% of American adults say they at least sometimes read online customer ratings or reviews before first time purchases, including 40% who say they always or almost always do so.

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The Motivations Behind Online Customer Reviews

The facts are clear: The benefits of online customer reviews are a form of social proof in marketing that make your product stand apart from the rest.

Reasons Why People Write Online Reviews

Now the question is, how do you get people to write customer reviews? Sure, you can get online customer testimonials by giving customers discounts, points, or freebies, but there are plenty of people (thousands, in fact) who write unsolicited reviews for magnanimous reasons.

Let’s explore those motivations, and discuss how you can leverage them to generate more positive, high-quality reviews.

Sharing is Caring

Probably the most altruistic motivation for leaving a review is that consumers want to help other people. In fact, this is the most common reason people cited for writing reviews (Isn’t it nice to know people are looking out for each other?)

If a consumer has a positive experience with a product, they will want to let others know about it in order to help them have the same enjoyable experience, as well. They may also feel that the company should be rewarded with a positive review for the excellent service they provided.

For example, parents who have sent their kids to Williamsburg Academy, rave about the program in the testimonials page here:

Williamsburg Academy Student Testimonials

Sharing their experience, they can help other parents with their decision about which school to send their children to.

Saying Thank You!

Almost as heart-warming as the previous motivation, customers will leave testimonials because they’re pleased with the service they received and want to express their gratitude. If you’ve ever received amazing service (which I hope you have!), you probably know what this feels like. Often, this gratitude will materialize as a hearty shout-out to the company in the form of positive customer reviews.

Here is an example of this type of review from Simple Green Smoothies’ 30-Day Green Smoothie Challenge:

Thank You Customer Reviews


People Want to Help Companies Improve On Their Products

Quality businesses want to give their customers the best products or services possible. If a customer points out a problem with the product or a way to improve the service, then this can help the company deliver even better products or services in the future. Most of the time, the criticisms made in these reviews are sandwiched between positive accolades for your product, but even the occasional negative review is beneficial.

Gett, the mobile app that began as a taxi ordering service and has since expanded to other services, offers a great example of this.  If you look at their reviews on Google Play, you will see many customers providing feedback that can help the company improve their service, UX and offering.

Improvement Customer Reviews

In fact, a few negative reviews can help businesses by:

  • Making the product more realistic. No product is flawless, and a lack of negative reviews looks suspicious.
  • Creating perspective. No product is ideal for everyone, but one man’s poison is another man’s cure. If the negative review is specific enough, people who aren’t troubled by what had bothered the reviewer might find the testimonial insightful, pointing them straight to the exact product that was criticized. (For example, if a reviewer doesn’t like that Gett now offer food delivery, but you are looking for an easy way to order food, this could be a very useful review, even though it appears to be negative.)

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People want to be heard

Just about everyone has an opinion on one thing or another, and the majority of them want their opinions heard, paid attention to, and respected by the masses. It is highly likely that your customers have formed their opinions about your company and are eager to share their thoughts and experiences with others.  What matters to those motivated by this desire is that people are listening to what they have to say (or reading what they have to write), so embrace their comments and engage with them to make them feel heard and appreciated.

To be part of the crowd

Hundreds of thousands of people come together in fan groups, pages, and listings to celebrate their favorite celebrities, works of art, gadgets, products, companies, etc., by leaving online reviews.  Participating in this group activity leads to a sense of comradery and a strengthened feeling of belonging.  Let’s say there is a product with a ton of reviews and most of them align with the opinion of one particular customer. Social proof psychology claims that it is likely that this customer would feel validated and more comfortable sharing his/her feelings publicly, as well.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, for example, has over 73,000 reviews on a single listing on Amazon.

hunger games online reviews

To be seen

Similar to point 4, everyone has an opinion on something, and some go as far as filming themselves to get it out there. Video customer testimonials have been increasing in popularity, especially since Youtube was established. Today, a simple search for the term “product review” on Youtube comes back with over 37 million results.

product review search youtube

And, this couldn’t be better news for you as a business owner. Research has shown that 65% of the average audience are visual learners and that website visitors are 64% more likely to purchase a product online after watching a video about it.

So, take advantage of this trend and proudly display customer video testimonials on your website. For example, the University of Houston has a dedicated page on their website where they display video testimonials from their students.

With these student video testimonials, prospective students can better understand the style of education that the University of Houston offers and are better informed to make a decision.

What does all this mean for businesses?

Now that you understand the motivations behind why people write online customer testimonials, you can take certain steps to help encourage your customers to leave more reviews by:

  • Providing great customer service. Give them something to rave about!
  • Providing the actual product or service that you advertised. Nobody likes to be deceived or disappointed.
  • Allowing people to upvote or downvote reviews, which will generate higher caliber reviews.
  • Just asking! As we have showed, most people are happy to oblige. Just make it simple for them to write and share reviews.

Using tools like Spectoos, you can set up emails to send to customers asking for testimonials and reviews. Customers just have to click on the link in the email, and they’re brought to the review screen. On your end, your dashboard is automatically updated so you can approve and publicize the customer review right away.

Spectoos Request Testimonial page

spectoos testimonials

For more information on how you can easily get testimonials from your customers, contact us today!

request testimonials

Also published on Medium.