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Guide | September 13, 2021

Create a Product Review Strategy for your eCommerce Business

In the book “Epic Content Marketing”, Joe Pulizzi revealed an interesting statistic: around 70% of customers (both B2B and B2C) made up their minds BEFORE even meeting the salesman in the store. How can that be? That’s because the world we live in is changing - fast.

Shoppers today are all digital-native. They almost never purchase a product without going to the Internet and searching for information, comparison and most importantly, review first to see how the product is going to work for them. Thus, all reviews: the good and the downright ugly ones are all crucial factors to make the all-important decision: should I pull out my wallet and take the plunge? The proliferation of reviews has even gone so far as to shape how businesses are perceived online.

As Chris Anderson, the current head of TED, puts it, “Your brand isn’t what you say it is — it’s what Google says it is.

So when it comes to winning business and maintaining a positive reputation, you need a thorough product review strategy for your eCommerce business.

What is a specific product review strategy and how can it help eCommerce business?

It is not an exaggeration to say that today, virtually everyone is reading online reviews. According to BigCommerce, 91% of people read them before making a purchase and 84% trust them as much as they would a personal recommendation. Based on a Report in 2021, the average customer is willing to spend 31% more on a retailer that has excellent reviews.

That’s why having a product review strategy is equally important to all business models: B2B, B2C, B2B2C, even B2G and so on.

A product review strategy simply aims at two things:

  • Generate genuine reviews from actual customers
  • Distribute customer-generated content efficiently on all paid, own and even earned channels so that it brings maximum benefits to the reputation and revenues of the company.

Achieving these two seemingly simple tasks can create tremendous benefits to any eCommerce business because: 

Customer reviews increase website/ marketplace traffic

According to a study by Forrester, 71% of consumers begin their journeys by using a search engine to discover new products and services while a larger 74% reported using a search engine for consideration and purchasing. These numbers represent a huge, qualified source of traffic (searchers with existing demand) - any business would fight for their spot at the first few positions of the results pages.

And that’s where product reviews come in as the dominating search engine Google actually indexes product reviews. Their algorithm scans reviews left by previous buyers and makes them searchable or visible on search. 

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By getting more product reviews, you are actually increasing your product ranks on Google.

Customer reviews increase conversions

Even though cutting-edge technology such as AR and Livestream are thriving, helping customers to know exactly what these products look like, feel like, and how they fit into their houses, these aren’t enough to lift the barriers to conversion. Why? Because the said information is from you - the business owner. It lacks objectivity, which is the whole point of why customer reviews exist and why it’s important.

Reviews are trusted 12 times more than other marketing materials. People want proof from other consumers that a product or service is worthwhile, not just biased advertising from brands. There is even a psychological phenomenon to back this, in which when making any decision, people - a social animal - tend to make judgments based on the collective actions of others. So when people read positive reviews from others who made the same purchases, they feel more confident and prone to believe that they are making a good choice.

Product reviews encourage brands to be better

Reviews are a great source for business owners to find insights about their customers: what they like about their product, their buying/ delivering process, their customer relation, and so on.  Of course, it is impossible to build a product that pleases every customer - but you can use those reviews to make improvements to your products and service as a way of telling customers that you care about them, their voice matters and you will become a better company thanks to their support. A small change to the packaging, the products, or the process can be costly, but that’s the price to build a relationship with your customers and keep them coming back to you instead of jumping to your competitor’s arm, which offers services that have little to no different than yours.

How to create a user-generated content strategy for reviews?

Timing is everything

When asking for product reviews, there are two things you need to notice: First, it takes time for the customer to use and form a solid opinion about the product; and Second, you would want them to leave a review when they are the happiest. 

So, how do you figure out the perfect timing? 

Your marketing department and their draft for the buying journey must come in at this point. You’ll want to be certain about two phases: the buyer journey is over (the product has arrived) and the customer has had a decent chance to use it.

By getting the bigger picture, it’s easier to decide the optimal moment to ask for a review. Most of the case, the perfect timing varies according to product type and vertical. For example, if you were COURTS Singapore who sells electrical appliances, you’ll want your review request to go out after one or two weeks after an order has been fulfilled. For a restaurant selling takeouts in this pandemic, you’ll need to ask for the customer's opinion right after they finished their meal or the day after at max, because that’s when the experience of the food is fresh in your customer’s mind (pun intended). 

Building a perfect inventory and delivery system to let customers and your sales team know when and where the parcel is can be the key-turner to this. ASUS Singapore is an example that has successfully deployed the system and beyond to satisfy their customers, from B2B to B2C, from online searchers to those loving direct experience from the store.

Download the free case study HERE

Personalized requests

Letting customers feel that a bot is spamming them, asking for product reviews is the last thing you would want, because most of the time, they will treat these requests the exact same way they treat a spam email: ignore them or put it in the trash.

Incentives offering  

Everyone loves discounts and free shipping. These can be the perks to offer in exchange for a review and keep customers coming back (they want to make the best use of their discount/ freeship coupon). But there are two main things to keep in mind about this strategy:

First, the expense can be incremental, but the benefits coming from a solid foundation of reviews can far outweigh the cost. If you don’t offer a rewards program, there are plenty of other ways to incentivize, including:

  • Contest entries 
  • Coupons 
  • Discounts 
  • Gift certificates

While the type of incentive shouldn’t be the same for every store, any eCommerce site can likely increase the possibility of gaining reviews by using incentives.

Create a product review strategy for your eCommerce business

These can be the perks to offer in exchange for a review and keep customers coming back (they want to make the best use of their discount/ freeship coupon)

Second, artificially inflated reviews can be really counterproductive as it feels like bait when customers make purchases based on reviews only to later learn the reviews were paid and not organic. Don’t be tempted by shortcuts because there is a high chance these can cut you short in both reputation and revenues.

Quantity of reviews

It may make you feel contradictory to what we have said above with the fake and paid reviews when we say the more the better in terms of review quantity. However, it is critical to encourage reviewing, not buying reviews.

A large number of reviews gives customers the insurance for your reputation and your product quality, as there are a lot of people who have bought this - they feel safer amid a crowd. On the other hand, a low volume of reviews, or no reviews at all, can sometimes do a disservice to your brand, especially if your shoppers are seeking out reviews before making a purchase decision.

To avoid this, set a minimum amount for displayed reviews so that they only appear once a healthy amount of feedback has been submitted. Most reviewing platforms will allow for this functionality, or you can have it included in your custom reviewing the solution

Quality of reviews

Having a lot of reviews is important, but for those reviews to have a tangible impact they should also provide value. A one-liner review that makes a generic statement such as “I really like my new table” can be construed as inauthentic. This kind of review won’t inspire value and confidence like the thoughtful review below.

What you want from quality reviews is extra and relevant information for your shoppers - the value that customers care about the most from previous purchasers. They can be:

  • The value and longevity of a product
  • The service overall, from answering their specific questions throughout the buying journey
  • The size

And so on.

To solicit reviews that provide value, you need to customize the way that you ask for reviews. Rather than an open-ended question, ask direct questions about the product. You would want to tailor the questions around features or elements like material, size, and shape, fit, quality, comfort, and more.

The value of non-perfect reviews

Contrary to quantity’s “The more the better” motto, the quality of review is not always “The higher the better”. Of course, we all want that 5 stars, but will a perfect 5-star overall review be the best?

The answer is no because it gives customers the benefit of the doubt - How can everyone give you that perfect score? Did you cheat? Having a variety and range of reviews makes your store feel more authentic.

On one research, it’s surprising to see that customers are less likely to purchase products with a perfect 5-star review than one between a 4.2 - 4.5 rating! It may come as a surprise, but negative reviews can actually increase your online sales. In fact, 82% of consumers specifically seek out negative reviews when shopping for a product. As strange as it may seem, shoppers say that poor reviews gave balance to their shopping research, stating that a negative perspective was either a “very important” or “important” factor influencing their decision.

But bad reviews are often a result of things that are out of your control. Many consumers are more likely to leave a bad review after a negative experience than a good review after a positive one. Reviewing provides them an opportunity to vent about their experience.

So, what can we do with all the good, the bad and the ugly reviews? The best strategy you can have is approaching bad reviews as an opportunity for customer retention. When a bad review comes in, personally reach out to that customer to work with them to resolve the issue. Doing so can help your business identify pain points while regaining the trust of an unhappy consumer. When reaching out, remember to keep your tone positive and non-accusatory. Work with the customer to find a solution, and while you’re at it, you can consider incentivizing loyalty by offering them a discount code or upselling.

Optimize your review section

The second your customer feels frustrated with the reviewing process, they have a high chance to abandon it (unless they have such a bad experience with you that they are too determined to leave a review - that’s even worse).

Retailers would want their review sections to be simple, fast, and frictionless. The most ideal scenario is when customers can submit their reviews without having to create an account or navigate through multiple web pages.

In this phase, keep in mind that you would want to give them some prompt to leave reviews, such as asking specific questions rather than open-ended questions.

Share reviews on social

According to a ComScore study, brand engagement increases 28% when consumers are exposed to a mixture of branded and user-generated content (UGC). The study also found that consumers ranked UGC higher than professionally-produced content in emotional intensity, relatability, key message communication and importance.

So you would need to do two things to nail this strategy:

  • Recognizing customer’s contribution 
  • Take good use of their content to boost benefits

One easy way to have the best of both worlds is by sharing their reviews. The giant cosmetic corporation L'oreal is a pioneer in this as they integrate pictures of customers' reviews right in the product image section. You can also directly share their quote - while making sure to give them credit. Choosing proper reviewers who fit your ideal buyer personas will automatically help you generate more awareness and engagement with the brand on different channels.

How to add product review functionality to your online store?

For such benefits, it would be a pity that you missed out on this opportunity. Do you set up your review section properly? Below is a brief introduction so that you can yield the best benefit out of the world’s largest eCommerce platforms.

Shopify

The Product Reviews app can be a great assistant to help you add a customer review feature to your products. This lets your customers engage with your business, as well as each other, to encourage sales.

If you're using an Online Store 2.0 theme, then the Product Reviews app saves rating data in Product Rating and Product Rating Count standard meta fields. This means that your rating data is stored as additional data with your product. Because this data is stored in standard meta fields, it might be compatible with other apps. Other apps can also contribute to your product rating data by writing to these meta fields.

Check out Shopify for further information.

Magento/ Adobe Commerce

Adobe Commerce and Magento Open Source offer multiple product review options as follows

  • Commerce Product Reviews
  • Yotpo Product Reviews

Check out Adobe Commerce for further information. 

BigCommerce 

If you are using the BigCommerce platform, you can manage product reviews using the built-in comment system or by installing a third-party app in the App Marketplace. The built-in BigCommerce review system is set to manage reviews and send review requests to your customers.

Check out BigCommerce for further information. 

But if you are having trouble dealing with your huge eCommerce platform that requires deep expertise to build seamless review features, SmartOSC is glad to help. Contact us or check out our work to see how we help customers reaching extensive success.

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