Whether you’re a new or established business, you might have found yourself asking: exactly how important are online reviews? Well, the short answer is: very. In fact, research suggests that just under 95% of shoppers will seek out reviews of a product or service before they commit to a purchase.

From using TrustPilot to check up on a company to browsing TripAdvisor for hotel and restaurant reviews, modern shoppers are savvy about how they spend their money. And reassurances from businesses just aren’t enough – they want to know straight from the horse’s mouth how well you treat your customers. Garnering a bevy of positive reviews, then, is a great way to build your business and your client base.

For one thing, reviews help first-time buyers to develop trust in your company. After all, reviews are much more likely to influence customers than any other type of marketing material. But that’s not all. According to the experts, feedback also helps to boost algorithm rankings, improve the customer experience, and enhance your SEO

So how can you make sure that your business gets the seal of approval? Although it can be difficult to encourage customers to leave a review, even after a positive experience, there are certain things that you can do to increase the likelihood of receiving feedback. And surprisingly, it’s often as easy as simply asking for a review. In fact, research has shown that almost 70 percent of shoppers will leave feedback if asked directly via email or text.

One of the key things here is to make sure that it is quick and easy for customers to leave a review – so make sure you include a direct link and, if you can, provide prompt questions so that they do not need to put too much effort in. On top of that, another option is to incentivise customers to leave feedback, making the extra time worth their while.

If your inventory includes small, low-cost items such make-up, badges, or prints, you might want to consider throwing in a freebie in exchange for a review. Or, if you deal in high-value items such as services or electronics, you could offer a discount on a future purchase instead. Alternatively, there’s also the option of establishing a loyalty scheme, offering points in exchange for reviews which can later be traded in for rewards.

Remember, the process doesn’t stop once you’ve received a review: whether it’s positive or negative, it’s important to take the time to respond. In the case of the former, a message thanking the customer encourages them to return to your business and recommend you to friends. And in the case of the latter, engagement gives you the opportunity to make things right – or, if not, to learn from your mistakes.

Finally, it’s important to respect the system and be honest about your reviews – which means no soliciting fake feedback from people who are not customers, and no limiting incentives to positive reviews. At the end of the day, shoppers expect even the best companies to have some negative feedback, and the most important thing is building trust and loyalty to your brand.