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January 10, 2022
Product reviews are a critical part of the shopping experience. 93% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase and 73% of consumers trust a local business more after reading positive reviews. You simply don't have a complete customer experience if you don't give your shoppers an opportunity to read the opinions of past buyers.
But product reviews aren't just for your customers' benefit. Displaying reviews on product pages and elsewhere throughout your ecommerce site can add 4.6% to your conversion rate. Yeah, they’re that significant.
How do they work? Through social proof, a psychological phenomenon that occurs when people are unable to determine the correct mode of behavior. When we aren’t sure what to do, we tend to follow the crowd by observing the actions of others. It’s an easy way to make reasonable decisions. So when customers aren’t sure whether to buy, they look to the opinions of other shoppers.
Unfortunately, authentic product reviews are hard to come by, especially for small ecommerce stores that don't make a lot of sales. They don’t flow in naturally, so you’ll need to take some active steps to acquire them.
In this article, we’re going to lay out a simple process to convince your customers to leave product reviews. These steps will help you collect that social proof and ultimately boost sales.
The first thing you should do to collect product reviews is to just ask for them. Send a request for a product review at some point after the customer receives the product and has had some time to experience it. Ideally these emails should be automated via your email marketing automation or your reviews app so everyone receives one.
In your request, explain why reviews are important. Inform your customers that reviews not only help your business, but they also help other customers make good decisions. In many cases, customers are more likely to leave a product review if they feel that the review will have some positive impact on future buyers.
Sending your review request at the right time is extremely important, but it’s not the same for every store. Your goal is to time the review so that…
In many cases, you can satisfy these requirements by sending your review request two or three days after the customer received the product. But this can change depending on the nature of the product. For instance, if you sell lawn fertilizer, your customers won’t have results from the product in two or three days. They need several weeks at least to properly rate the product.
Finally, it’s a good idea to send a follow up request if your first one was ignored. You can set this up in your email marketing app. If they fail to open the first request, or open it and fail to click your call-to-action, send another request a week later. Rewrite the copy so they don’t receive the same email.
Don’t rely on your automated review requests to do all of the work. You should also make some manual review requests if you notice any good opportunities.
For instance, if you go above and beyond to satisfy a customer, or if a customer has an unusually good experience with your company, it’s a good idea to personally request a review of their experience. Due to the law of reciprocity, the customer (who was delighted by your service) will feel indebted to leaving a positive review.
If a customer buys one of your new products, it might also be beneficial to manually request a review. A personalized review is more likely to get a response, which is important for new products that need reviews ASAP. Plus, this gives you an opportunity to collect feedback about that new product from real buyers.
If you want customers to leave product reviews, you have to make the process as frictionless as possible. Don’t ask them to find their product again or use a complicated form. Your request should provide them with one link that takes them directly to the spot to write the review. The entire process should take less than a minute.
Check out this Mack Weldon email. In this email, the customer doesn’t even have to visit another page to rate the product. Each star is its own link that automatically submits the customer’s rating. One click and they’re done.
This is especially important if the customer purchased multiple products and could potentially leave multiple reviews. Provide a link for each product that takes the customer to the correct place to leave the review. Your goal is to make everything as simple as possible for the customer so they don't get confused and abandon the review entirely.
Notice how this Chewy email offers a link to review each product so everything is simple and easy to understand.
How do you manage this process? You’ll need some functionality on your website that handles it all. This usually comes from an app. If you’re on Shopify, we strongly recommend Stamped. It’s a powerful tool that helps you request and display reviews on your ecommerce site. Customers can even post their photos and videos.
Sometimes it helps to offer customers an incentive to leave product reviews. Your customers may be more willing to spend a few minutes writing if they think there’s something in it for them.
If you decide to offer an incentive, be sure to mention this in the subject line of your review request. This will increase the odds that they open the email to read the details of your offer.
What should you offer as an incentive? That’s hard to say, but it’s important to focus on incentives that your audience finds valuable. It may be as simple as a discount or credit on future purchases. If your store is related to a cause, you might offer to give a charitable donation in their name. Or they might like free gifts or entries into a giveaway.
Keep in mind, however, that this does not mean you should pay for positive reviews. If you decide to incentivize reviews, pay the reviewer regardless of what they say. You don’t want people to think you are influencing reviews with cash.
Sometimes customers just don’t know what to say in their reviews. “I love it” or “It’s great” are technically positive reviews, but do they really help anyone make a buying decision? After all, there are some products - like lightswitch covers and dishwasher replacement parts - that you can’t love enough to rave about in a review. But you still want those customers to give enough information to make their review helpful.
With the right review app, you can give your customers review criteria to enhance the content of their reviews so their information is robust and helpful. For instance, a review may ask customers to rate the color, style, or price. They could also rate the delivery and customer service and give reviewers the opportunity to upload images and video.
Notice how this app gives reviewers multiple star rating options for different factors of the transaction. Potential customers who read the review will have multiple criteria to consider even if the reviewer writes something unhelpful.
None of these steps will work if your customers have a poor experience at your store or if they don’t like your products. Your first step, therefore, is to make sure your customers have something positive to review. Then follow the steps we outlined above to create a review collection process that works smoothly at scale.
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