This is a guest post by Alex Ivanovs from CodeCondo.
The ecommerce landscape is continually changing and evolving. One of the biggest changes in recent years has been the proliferation of online reviews.
In fact, reviews have spread all across the internet and they pop-up regardless of whether you're actively encouraging them or not.
However, when used strategically, reviews can become powerful pieces of social proof that persuade people to buy.
In this post we’ll look at how to put reviews to work in your business. Specifically, we’ll show you how to start generating (and automating) them, as well as how to manage them.
Let’s get started.
The Benefits of Online Reviews for Ecommerce Stores
Seeking out online reviews has become such standard part of the buying process for people these days that every online retailer needs to be thinking about them.
- 70% of customers consult reviews or ratings before making a final purchase. (PeopleClaim)
- 63% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews.
- 67% of consumers read 6 reviews or less before they feel they can trust a business enough to make a purchase. (MarketingProfs)
- As many as 79% of consumers trust product reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
- 80% of consumers have changed their mind about purchases based on NEGATIVE information they have found online. (ReputationAdvocate)
- On average, 75 percent of reviews posted on review websites are positive, and 71 percent of consumers agreed that reviews make them more comfortable that they are purchasing the right product or service.
In other words, reviews have real value for consumers and people now depend on them.
But, they also have some big benefits for retailers.
Change How Customers Perceive You
The biggest obstacle for you as an ecommerce store owner is building trust between your brand and your customer. Nobody wants to have bad reputation. Good quality products, reliability, and helpfulness all add up to the way your customers perceive you and your business.
Genuine, positive reviews will encourage customers to look at you as someone they can trust, someone who cares about their customers, and someone who is willing to go the extra mile for an exceptional customer experience.
In addition to providing unbiased information people can rely on, people also like reviews because they provide third party insight into the quality and experience your product provides. For example, learning more about the softness, flexibility and durability of a yoga mat and how it performed at the local gym.
Reviews such as those help people imagine themselves using your product in their own lives and also help reduce common questions that would otherwise come to you through customer support inquiries.
Building Trust & Credibility
Smaller and newer ecommerce brands face a larger challenge when it comes to building trust than larger, well known brands. It’s especially tough these days as people are more cautious than ever.
"The increasing prevalence of phishing scams, malware, and just plain shoddy customer service makes consumers more wary with their clicks than ever before – which means that trust indicators on your website are more important than ever before." – Mark Hayes, Shopify
Just like Mark suggests, trust indicators on your store are important and making reviews clearly available on your site can go along way towards persuading people to pull their wallets out.
For example, check out how MVMT Watches uses (and solicits) reviews on their product pages to add social proof and convince people to buy:
How to Encourage Customer Reviews
Now that we've looked at why you should be taking advantage of reviews, lets look at how to start generating them. Having a way for customers to leave a review is one thing - and quite important - but getting the customers to actually leave reviews is something else entirely. Many times, your customer will simply forget to review the product she bought, or she won't feel inspired enough to write a review about it.
What can you do to get people motivated?
Send Out Friendly Emails
Learning to be a good email marketer isn't just for selling more of your products, it's also for encouraging people to become an active part of your community, to share the same passion for that which you love so dearly. You should learn how to build email campaigns that you can send out to customers who've had the product in their hands for a week or two - this will give them enough time to learn about the product, and also to experience it enough to write a review about it. Be gentle, kind, and ask what else you can do to help.
Reviewing Should be Easy
The worst thing you could do is to force your customers to go through a tedious verification process when submitting a review for you. Make leaving reviews accessible, easy and also rewarding; like setting up a coupon for $5 off for the next order! It will surprise your customer, and increase her trust in your business.
Let only registered members who've purchased the product leave a review, but make it as easy as entering some text and pressing the submit button.
Coupons, Discounts & Sneak Previews
Even the smallest of incentives can have a huge impact on how engaging your customer is going to be. Like I mentioned above, giving a special coupon after some submits a review might prove to be very beneficial, at the same time – discount codes, or sneak previews of upcoming products is also a great way to encourage customers to be a part of your community.
Tools Necessary to Carry Out the Task
I think it's time we take a look at some important tools that can for gathering and managing reviews, and hopefully help you discover new ways of automating things.
Email marketing is an important part of gathering reviews because not only does it let you follow up with customers who have recently purchased from you, but you can also automate the process so you only have to set it up once. In your email marketing software, simply set up an autoresponder that goes out about a week after your customer receives your product and has had time to experience it.
If you're new to email marketing, here's some tool recommendations to get your started:
MailChimp is an email marketing service with over 7 million users. They provide an easy way for users to send email newsletters, manage subscriber lists, and track campaign performance.
MailChimp takes a variety of basic and advanced features (like templates, list segmentation, a/b testing, geo-targeting and ROI tracking) and makes them accessible to the everyday user through automation and a competitive price point.
They have numerous case studies archived on their blog, some that stand out are from designers like Paul Jarvis, and from huge media outlets like Slate.
AWeber develops and runs an opt-in email marketing service used by over 120,000+ small businesses, bloggers and entrepreneurs around the globe. It is among the top 5 leading email marketing companies in the world, and has plenty of experience to cater for all-level people.
Their Drag & Drop email builder that they've built is easy enough for newbies with advanced options for experts. No matter your skill level, you can customize emails to fit your style.
Campaign Monitor makes it easy to attract new subscribers, send them beautiful email newsletters and see stunning reports on the results. Built from the ground up for creative professionals, you can manage all your clients from a single account and let them send campaigns at prices you set.
In addition to these three services, you can also find more excellent options, like Klaviyo, in the Shopify app store.
Yotpo for Social Reviews
Yotpo is a reviews and marketing solution for ecommerce stores. Yotpo helps stores generate tons of reviews and use them to drive quality traffic and sales through social media, email and other channels. Yotpo also includes powerful reports and analytics giving online you actionable insights to improve merchandising and marketing strategy.
You might not be generating a very large review count by using the built-in review system of your shopping cart software, so that is why Yotpo can prove to be very useful. It allows you to integrate a simple review platform that can be powered by social media. It has a free-for-life plan available, but there are also paid versions that allow for more flexibility.
Read this case study that shows how Yotpo was able to help one company - a business that focuses on selling television and electronic goods - to increase the sales revenue by 14%.
Product Reviews App by Shopify
Product Reviews is a fee app from Shopify that lets you easily add product reviews to your online store. This is a great way to engage your customers and boost sales.
With Product Reviews you get SEO-friendly review scores, theme-adaptive design and easy customization which is great for those users don't know how to code.
Make sure you check out all the other review apps in the Shopify App Store as well.
Hopefully this post has given you some ideas about how you can begin putting product reviews to work in your business. Reviews are powerful and when used effectively they can help you boost sales.
Do you currently use reviews on your site? How has it worked out for you? Let us know in the comments.
About the Author: Alex Ivanovs loves to immerse himself in a subject that he is writing about, not only does it help him to escape in peace, it enables him to learn, and grow at the same time. He is the force behind CodeCondo, a web development community for aspiring developers and webmasters. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+.