Expensive marketing campaigns, innovative sales strategies, extensive networking, and social media work… you can do everything out there to promote your online store and products, but for one reason or another, the sales may not be rolling in.
There’s one important aspect that retail business owners often overlook, and that is collecting product reviews. According to studies, 70% of online shoppers check what other customers had to say about a product before making their purchase.
This means that filling your store with valuable products for fair prices isn’t enough. Today’s customers want to be able to see that other people are buying your products and engaging with them through reviews, both good and bad.
The importance of product reviews in online shopping
Savvy online shoppers have become wary of online scams. We’ve all heard a story of someone getting burned by an online store—shipping that took forever, fake products, horrible customer service are just a few of other dozen terrible experiences.
One gap that you have to try to fill when running an online store is proving unsure customers that your website is a thriving store that people can trust. Reading product reviews eases customer uncertainties in more ways than one. But in case you’re not convinced, here are a few reasons why having more product reviews on your store is good for your business.
Reviews help build trust for your products
As a new or relatively unknown store, your biggest hurdle is to prove that your products are great and something that people need. But how do you stand out from the sea of stores already out there, especially when they have a track record of proven and professional service?
Let’s face it, having detailed product pictures and fun descriptions can only do so much. Consumers these days are smart enough to know that anything can be faked if you try hard enough.
Real product reviews, on the other hand, give uncertain customers an unbiased look into the quality of your products and overall experience of buying from your store. They also offer the outsider’s point of view that first-time shoppers don’t have — they describe your product in ways that you, as a store owner, never thought of.
And don’t worry about negativity — as long as the majority of your reviews are positive, negativity will only add more insight than anything else. In fact, over 80% of online shoppers will specifically search for negative reviews. And if a product only has 5-star ones, they are less likely to buy it than those with 4.X-star ratings.
Reviews add social proof
It’s easy to misunderstand the purpose of product reviews for your store. You might be under the assumption that shoppers want reviews because it gives them assurance over a certain product.
While this may be true for well-known and reliable stores like Amazon, it’s less true for smaller ecommerce stores. Why? Because people need to trust not only your products, but your business as a whole.
According to Marketing Profs, nearly 70% of customers want to read at least 6 reviews before they feel that a website is trustworthy. People want to know that there is a bustling community of online shoppers around them before giving your store their cash.
Reviews give you an opportunity to express your brand
As we said above, negative customer reviews aren’t always a bad thing. If your reviews are mostly positive, negative ones actually have a tendency to build more trust than they destroy. People like seeing clear evidence that you don’t hide the bad feedback or you don’t fill your page with paid 5-star reviews. As long as the cause of the negative review isn’t too alarming, it should actually be helpful in the long run.
Negative reviews also give you another opportunity to communicate your brand values and show the human side of you. Studies show that 70% of negative feedback is there simply because consumers want to elicit a response. The mean-spiritedness of a negative review is less about hurting your brand, but more about making things right.
Consumers are offering you a public opportunity to fix whatever the problem is. Think about all the times you’ve wanted to leave a negative review. It’s not because you have a vendetta against a certain brand or store. More often than not, it’s just because you want to get the service or product you were actually expecting.
The problem, however, is that stores don’t always capitalize on this opportunity. Only 38% of negative reviews actually get a reply. It can be easy to come to the conclusion that ignoring the problem of a negative review will just make it go away. But future customers will see it, and your lack of response will make you seem all the more guilty.
If you can be one of the few stores that replies to every negative review, you’ll find yourself earning trust points with both that particular customer and others who will see the interaction.
How to get more product reviews
Now that you understand the importance of customer reviews, how exactly do you go about convincing your audience to leave them? Let’s take a look at a few strategies you can implement today.
1. Make it easy to leave product reviews
There’s nothing more annoying than logging onto a site and not knowing how to reach a certain page. In this case, it’s about making it easy for customers to leave a product review. You want to make this process simple, leaving links to product reviews on every relevant page.
Online jewelry store Zenger is a perfect example of a store with a clear “Read a Review” and “Write a Review” indications. They remind the customer several times throughout the page, making the reviews an active part of their selling point.
2. Show that you value every opinion
Customers will be more willing to leave reviews if they see that your store genuinely hears them out. This can include responding to reviews, or even highlighting certain ones and using them as testimonials. When you make it clear that you value every opinion, your audience will be more enticed to share theirs.
If you’re a first-time buyer, reading this customer review gives you an idea of what you can expect from the product too. And if you’re a person who left this review, you probably feel at least a little flattered a brand chose to share your opinion with others. It’s a win-win situation right here.
3. Ask for product reviews at the right time
Reminding customers to leave product reviews is important, but sending that reminder at the right time is crucial. You don’t want to ask customers to review your products the day they reached them. Just like it wouldn’t make much sense to bother them with the same request several months after the purchase was made.
Unfortunately, there’s no golden rule that says when is the best time to ask for product reviews, so to find out what works for your business, you’ll have put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
Let’s say you bought a t-shirt. You can probably comment on the print quality or fit of the tee the day you received it. But it may take you some time to tell how the t-shirt wears or looks after the washing.
If you want informative and genuine reviews, give the customer time to properly try out the product first. Depending on the product, 2-4 weeks should be enough for the customer to form an opinion about the purchase they made.
4. Send personalized product review requests
What better way to get your customers to leave a review than by sending them personalized requests? All it takes is an email with their name and a short reminder that their feedback would help not only your store but other shoppers who are like them.
Healthy product store iHerb sends email reminders to customers encouraging them to give feedback on products they purchased:
But sending email reminders isn’t the only way you can get more product reviews. If you have your customers’ cell phone numbers, you can use text marketing tools like TextMagic that let you collect customer feedback directly through the text message.
A study by Twilio found that 9 out of 10 customers all over the world preferred to use SMS over any other platform. SMS is also 3 to 8 times more preferable across all generations as compared to face-to-face interactions. That said, using the communication channel customers prefer the most can boost your chances of actually scoring that review.
5. Encourage customer reviews on social media
Last year, people all over the world spent 135 minutes on social media daily. Since your customers are spending quite a bit of their time on this channel already, it may be worth encouraging them to review your products on their social media accounts.
Not sure how you can do it? Add a review tab to your store’s Facebook page, or invite your customers to share their experiences with your store by using a branded hashtag on Instagram.
That’s exactly what Urban Outfitters does to collect customer experiences with the brand.
Let’s be real, sometimes a picture of your customers rocking your sweatshirt with a smile on their face can say more than a 2-word product review on your website. With the customer’s permission, you can even republish visual reviews like this on your brand’s account to expand your reach build stronger connections with your followers.
6. Use smart product review tools
Most ecommerce platforms are equipped with apps that let customers leave product reviews on your website. Not sure where to start looking? Here are a few product recommendation apps worth checking out.
There are many apps available on WordPress that can be easily integrated on your site. Ultimate Reviews is one of them. Thanks to this app, customers can submit their reviews on your profile. And it’s not just for products – this works well with services, experiences, and events.
If you’re using Shopify, one tool you absolutely need to integrate onto your page is the Product Reviews app. It gives you the option to enable product reviews on your store, letting your customers interact directly with you on your page.
If you’re looking for a way to collect product reviews and ratings on your website and crunch them into data, Yotpo is a tool you want to try!
Display your product reviews, photos, and Q&As on your store to attract visitors’ attention, build trust and increase the chances of making more sales. Every once in a while hit that “Analytics” button on Yotpo to analyze the feedback you receive.
Start collecting product reviews
Hearing unfiltered customer’s opinion about the products you’ve been working on so hard might feel daunting at first. But as long as you provide a pleasant shopping experience and high-quality products, you have nothing to worry about.
Remember, the more reviews you have, the more trustworthy your business appears to uncertain customers. So go an extra mile to make the process of leaving product reviews easy and timely. Most importantly, take time to analyze the feedback you receive to make better business decisions in the future.