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How AI can harness customer reviews for marketing success

How AI can harness customer reviews for marketing success

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

With an estimated 84% of consumers placing as much trust in online reviews as they do in personal recommendations, it’s easy to see why businesses are taking a more proactive approach to online reviews rather than passively relying on word of mouth. Positive reviews also have the rather obvious benefit of boosting a brand’s reputation while contributing to its SEO.

While many businesses use customer reviews to remedy complaints and address flaws, few realize that online reviews can be used to gain a significant competitive advantage. Now that AI is leveling the playing field, this once-complicated undertaking is being transformed into an essential business practice—so let’s take a closer look and make sure you’re not missing out on a valuable opportunity.

Extracting review insights with AI

A small company can look through their few dozen reviews in an afternoon, but this isn’t a viable option for enterprise-level organizations. Even a single high-traffic location can be impractical to analyze, let alone tens or hundreds of other listings, multiplied by every review platform where a business maintains a presence, from Google to Apple Maps to Facebook. This issue only compounds for individual product reviews, with every additional SKU making the prospect of analyzing all online reviews a fool’s errand.

Previously, by looking at high-level key performance indicators (KPIs), business managers could gain insights such as which of their products or locations performed better or worse than expected—but this assessment was limited to benchmarks established by the business’s own data. Sentiment analysis then offered a slightly more granular version of these in-brand comparisons, with software beginning to understand text within reviews to provide rudimentary scoring beyond star ratings alone. Today, the emergence of AI—and its ability to give natural language feedback in a much more nuanced way—is changing the game.

Enterprise-level businesses have always been overburdened with review content, but that sheer volume of content has suddenly become an asset. AI language models such as ChatGPT can be fed data from any source, accommodating unique data sets and deriving highly specific insights. For instance, conventional sentiment analysis could tally up repeated words but struggled with synonyms and generally struggled with reviews that covered multiple aspects of a product, service, or brand. In contrast, DAC’s AI models can easily parse subtle distinctions across hundreds if not thousands of reviews, understanding sentiment on a macro level as well as digging deeper into the minute details that add up to each customer’s overall experience.

When we assess review data, we can now ask the AI what customers think of any given topic. If a restaurant owner were to ask, “What do our customers think of our soups of the day?” the AI would analyze all user reviews and respond back with something along the lines of, “The soups are generally a good value but often under-salted. As there is no salt at the tables, it’s annoying to have to always ask the server to bring some.”

In this example, the AI is doing what a simple KPI measurement could do—reporting that reviews are generally positive for the soup of the day—but it then expands that understanding further. Previously, a sentiment analysis tool could have accounted for the term “salt” appearing in review text, but it would not have made the connection to soup specifically. The AI automatically connects all relevant points of data to conclude that a significant number of customers want salt ready at their tables. Only AI can instantly combine and assess of general review scores and associated words in this way, then go the extra step to extrapolate those words to other scenarios in reviews.

Using AI to promote reviews and business features

There are many benefits to promoting your positive reviews on your website, social channels, and other customer touch points, with SEO chief among them. There are so many searches that could lead a customer to your business, whether they are searching for a specific product, service, or even a basic attribute such as pet-friendly stores. It’s virtually impossible to guess every possible query a customer might have about your business and even more difficult to create content that addresses every single one of these potential topics.

The smarter solution is to leverage user-generated content (UGC) to unlock these SEO benefits for you. Your marketing managers may not be able to list every single aspect of your business from memory, but AI can certainly remember all the factors that went into your five-star reviews.  More than 99% of American consumers read reviews before making purchases, online and offline. Positive reviews, shown to customers before they even ask to see them, will more than likely influence them into making a purchasing decision.

AI’s role in responding to reviews

It has been found that 88% of consumers are likely to choose a business that replies to all reviews, which is 87.2% higher than businesses that do not respond to reviews. Responding to reviews is also known to lead to an increase in new customer reviews—which also means an increase in SEO-boosting content and a likely boost in overall star ratings.

DAC already provides review response tools through our unique Reputation Management suite, which counts AI integrations among its latest additions. Our Review Response Assistant, for instance, not only generates stock responses to star-only reviews but also suggests the most effective ways to respond to reviews that demand a more nuanced reply. AI should not be used without any human oversight, of course, but the assistant makes customer service representatives’ lives easier by recommending search-friendly terms to fully optimize their responses.

The very concept of responding to online reviews is a major topic in itself. That’s why we’ve already written extensively about it, so check out Change Your Stars: How to Respond to Online Reviews and 5 Ways to Use Bad Reviews to your Advantage before you decide your next steps.

Overall, harnessing customer reviews for marketing success is a powerful strategy that leverages the real experiences of satisfied customers to build trust and drive sales. By utilizing AI to analyze customer reviews, businesses can extract valuable insights, identify trends, and understand customer sentiments in a way that manual analysis could never achieve. In today’s competitive market, integrating AI-driven insights from reviews gives brands a priceless opportunity boost their credibility, attract potential customers, and—ultimately—chart a course to sustained growth and success.


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