Online consumers heavily rely on reviews for virtually every purchase they contemplate, whether it’s a new coffee maker on Amazon, travel plans for a Costa Rica vacation through Trip Advisor, finding a reliable handyman via Google, or discovering an enjoyable tapas restaurant on Yelp.
An impressive nine out of ten customers proactively seek out reviews before making a purchase. These impartial opinions from previous buyers play a pivotal role in their decision-making process, particularly when they harbor skepticism about meticulously crafted brand messages.
While motivating people to leave reviews can be a challenging endeavor, it remains crucial in providing customers with timely, informative insights and enhancing your marketing strategy. Below, we’ll explore strategies to encourage shoppers to share their experiences and recommend suitable platforms for displaying these valuable reviews.
Here are the advantages of customer reviews in a simplified and formal language:
- Promotes Recommendations: A significant 84% of shoppers place trust in business reviews on par with personal recommendations, effectively enhancing your online visibility.
- Strengthens Content Library: Reviews hold more trustworthiness than many other marketing materials, making them a vital component of the purchasing process. You can save time and effort by relying on reviews to augment your content.
- Enhances Credibility: Nearly half of all shoppers, 49%, express their trust in online reviews at the same level as personal recommendations.
- Enhances Customer Perception: The quality of your reviews directly influences the value shoppers associate with your brand and products.
While trust-building is a primary benefit of reviews, they also offer substantial support in various other areas, spanning from search engine optimization to gaining valuable product insights.
- Boosts SEO Efforts: Google’s algorithm favors web pages with consumer reviews, granting them higher search engine rankings. Additionally, the increased word count in reviews provides more opportunities for relevant keywords.
- Facilitates Personalized Customer Experiences: Reviews offer diverse product perspectives, allowing shoppers to gauge how customers with similar characteristics, such as size, shape, or skin type, experienced the product.
- Identifies Relevant Keywords: Reviews provide valuable insights into the actual keywords customers use when discussing your products.
- Improves Product Development: Customer experiences and opinions, as expressed in reviews, serve as feedback to enhance and refine your products.
You don’t necessarily need an overwhelming number of reviews to enjoy these benefits. While it’s not necessary to have a review from every single customer, securing as many reviews as possible can significantly bolster your outcomes.
In the majority of cases, about nine out of ten times, customers tend not to leave a review without some prompting. Interestingly, you’re often more likely to receive a review from a dissatisfied customer seeking to express their grievances rather than a satisfied customer who had a positive experience and would gladly recommend your product.
This underscores the importance of actively encouraging customers to share their feedback, especially when they’ve had a positive experience.
While it may seem straightforward, most customers are unlikely to leave reviews unless you specifically request them to do so. You can achieve this by sending customer feedback surveys or prompting customers to share their thoughts directly on your website.
One effective approach is to send a timely email or SMS message that encourages them to leave a review. However, it’s crucial to ensure that they’ve had sufficient time to use your product, as research indicates that 81% of shoppers are more inclined to leave a review after using the product on multiple occasions.
When is the best time to send a review request email?
The ideal timing for review requests depends on the nature of your product and your target customers. Research suggests different timeframes for various product categories. For durable goods like refrigerators and washing machines, it’s advisable to wait for approximately 21 days before seeking reviews.
For perishable and soft goods such as cosmetics, clothing, and food, a shorter waiting period of around 14 days is suitable. Seasonal products, on the other hand, benefit from a prompt review request within seven days.
Additionally, the study highlights that review request emails sent on Wednesdays and Saturdays tend to yield the highest conversion rates. It’s also essential for e-commerce brands to follow up approximately seven days after sending the initial email. While a significant 68% of customers leave a review when asked once, an additional 28% are likely to provide a review on the second request, with a further 4% doing so on the third request.
Customers are more inclined to leave reviews when the process is straightforward. They don’t want to face unnecessary complications after receiving their product.
To encourage reviews, guide shoppers through the process, and ensure a seamless experience by:
- Addressing and rectifying any technical issues.
- Minimizing the number of fields and interactions required.
- Providing them with specific questions to answer.
Most e-commerce platforms offer tools that can streamline the review collection process and make it more user-friendly.
People generally appreciate receiving something for free, and a substantial 73% of consumers express their willingness to leave a review when offered an incentive. This incentive can take the form of a complimentary item, a discount on their next purchase, or the accumulation of extra loyalty points.
What kind of incentives should you offer?
The choice of incentives should align with your product and target audience. For instance, if you sell high-end electronics, customers may prefer a discount on their next purchase, whereas those buying makeup might be more enticed by a free sample of a new product.
Here are some data-backed incentives you can consider:
- Free Product: An impressive 91% of shoppers appreciate the opportunity to receive the product free of charge.
- Exclusive Access: 85% express interest in receiving the product before its official release.
- Future Discounts: Approximately 67% favor discounts on their future purchases.
- Loyalty Points: About 59% value the accumulation of loyalty points.
You can also implement a flexible approach, tailoring the rewards based on the depth of the review. For instance, customers who submit a review along with a photo might be eligible for a 15% discount on their next purchase, while those who leave a written review alone could receive a 10% discount.
Over 50% of consumers anticipate that businesses will address negative reviews within a week. This timely response demonstrates your commitment to customer feedback.
Moreover, it’s essential to personalize your responses in some manner. Shoppers, in general, are more inclined to make purchases from an e-commerce store that actively engages with both positive and negative reviews. This practice signals your receptiveness to customer opinions and conveys your genuine care for their experiences.
Initiating a conversation with customers who’ve shared their experiences not only builds trust and credibility but also provides an opportunity to re-engage with shoppers who may have had a less-than-ideal encounter.
However, avoid issuing a generic response to all reviews. Instead, consider these steps:
- Personalize Each Response: Address customers by their name, at a minimum, in your responses.
- Address Queries: Responsively answer questions raised in reviews, while maintaining a non-defensive tone when dealing with negative feedback.
- Encourage Further Contact: Extend an invitation to customers who’ve had a negative experience to reach out through alternate means, such as email or official customer support channels. This approach demonstrates your commitment to resolving their concerns and fostering a positive customer relationship.
Customers seek a balanced perspective, valuing feedback from various viewpoints. Users tend to spend five times as much time on websites when they engage with unfavorable reviews, which can be beneficial for your platform.
Taking a cue from ModCloth’s approach above, it’s advisable to respond to negative reviews in a composed and impartial manner. Alternatively, you can implement a two-step review process. Initially, shoppers are encouraged to rate with stars. Those giving a high rating can proceed to leave a public review, while those with a lower rating are invited to share feedback privately. This approach allows you the opportunity to address concerns before their review becomes visible on your website, potentially mitigating any negative impact.
Earning the trust of consumers is paramount for sustained success. Therefore, it is essential always to be truthful about reviews, whether they are positive or negative.
Exercise great caution to avoid altering or deleting negative reviews, as such actions can lead to undesirable consequences, as seen in the case of Fashion Nova, which faced a $4.2 million fine and a loss of trust from its customers due to suppressing negative reviews.
Before embarking on the collection of reviews, it’s advisable to familiarize yourself with the guidelines set by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). These guidelines encompass:
- Avoid solicitation of fake reviews from individuals who have not genuinely used your product.
- Abstaining from limiting review request emails solely to customers perceived to have had a positive experience.
- Refraining from imposing conditions on incentives offered.
Prospective customers expect a balanced mix of reviews, and an abundance of exclusively glowing five-star ratings can raise suspicions. Instead, aim to provide shoppers with a comprehensive range of perspectives so they can make informed decisions that align with their unique preferences and needs.
Platforms Consider listing your store on the following reputable customer and product review platforms to garner more testimonials:
- Angie’s List
- Consumer Affairs
- Google My Business
- Power Reviews
By being present on these platforms, you can expand your reach and collect valuable feedback from a wider range of customers.
Customer reviews play a pivotal role in the decision-making process for the majority of online shoppers. As an online business owner, it is imperative to actively gather and showcase these reviews across various touchpoints.
Commence the process by sending well-timed review request emails, and offering incentives to encourage customers to share their feedback. Additionally, it’s crucial to handle negative reviews transparently and constructively.
Once you’ve accumulated a significant volume of customer reviews, you can strategically incorporate them into your e-commerce site, advertisements, and social media platforms. This strategic use not only fosters trust and drives sales but also cultivates satisfied customers and enhances your brand’s online reputation.