In the world of eCommerce, the role of traditional salespeople has undergone a significant transformation. While they were once crucial for driving sales, today's consumers rely heavily on customer reviews to inform their purchasing decisions. Recent studies indicate that as much as 95% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase. Consequently, customer reviews have become the most critical salesperson for businesses operating in the digital realm. In fact, it's safe to say that customer reviews can make or break a business, impacting everything from brand perception to conversion rates and revenue. In this article, we will examine the power of customer reviews in eCommerce and explain why businesses should prioritise their online reputation management as a crucial element of their sales strategy.
The Power of Customer Reviews
Customer reviews are one of the most powerful tools in an eCommerce business’s arsenal. When you operate in the online space, there is no salesperson handy to answer any questions, quell concerns and generally steer the customer towards a sale. Your product page is undoubtedly what will ultimately sell your product, so it needs to be on point. However, if potential customers are on the fence about whether to click your “add to cart” button, social proof can make all the difference. Reviews offer online businesses a number of advantages which include the following:
#1: Customers Trust Businesses With Reviews
Customer reviews can greatly improve the credibility of your business or product by providing an unbiased, real-world perspective on what it is like to actually use the product/service or interact with your brand. By seeing how other customers have rated their experience and what kind of feedback they provided, potential customers will know what to expect when purchasing from your store. Think about a business that has disabled its Facebook reviews and comments. What are they trying to hide? Why don’t they want customers to be able to leave reviews? One thing is for sure, they’re not going to look credible or trustworthy to an outsider and it’s going to hurt their sales. Get this - 62% of customers will not buy from a brand if they censor online reviews and comments. Allowing reviews and engagement - both positive and negative - will go a long way in building trust with new and existing customers.
#2: You’ll Appear Higher in Search Results
We bet you didn't know this one...customer reviews can actually help improve your SEO rankings by increasing the number of positive signals search engines use to rank your website. Reviews act as a form of user-generated content, which generally helps to boost keyword rankings. Many review sites are crawled frequently by search engines and can generate additional links that further enhance the site's overall visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs).
#3: Businesses With Reviews Sell More
The impact of reviews on conversion rate is much bigger than you think. As we touched on already, reviews provide potential customers with valuable information about the product or service, allowing them to make informed buying decisions. Positive reviews give prospects more confidence in their purchase decision and encourage them to buy, while negative reviews help customers avoid making mistakes by steering them away from inferior products.
Remember, if your business is being reviewed on sites like TrustPilot or SiteJabber, it could direct visitors to your site that may never have come across your brand otherwise. So reviews can go a long way in directing traffic back to your website and potentially boosting your revenue as a result. Of course, this is not the only contributing factor to conversation rates and sales so be sure to get up to speed on how to improve conversion of your Shopify store.
#4: You’ll Learn More About Your Customer’s Needs
Reviews also help businesses identify areas where they may need to make improvements in order to increase customer satisfaction. Are you getting complaints that your website loads too slow? Great, you can find ways to speed up your site by checking out tips for Shopify website speed optimization. Are your products more expensive than your competitors? Is your customer service lacking?
Reviews can be a great springboard for opening a dialogue with consumers to better serve their needs. Just as much as reviews provide an indication of where you may be going wrong, they can also reinforce what you're getting right. By understanding why customers love interacting with your brand or what they love most about your products/services, you can tailor your marketing content to touch on these unique selling points (USPs).
#5: Enhanced Reputation Management
As we mentioned briefly above, a business that censors feedback immediately raises red flags and will be viewed with suspicion. By opening the door for feedback and inviting customers to share their experiences with you, you are establishing yourself as a brand that cares about its customers and takes their suggestions seriously. Reviews give you the opportunity to engage with your customers through your replies and further build your brand identity as a caring, customer-first business. For example, our agency gets almost 25% of our leads from our reviews on Clutch. By seeing the positive experiences past clients have had, new clients can see upfront the results we have delivered and get a feel for what its like to work with us.
#6: Better Decision-Making
Further to the point of clearer customer insights, you will be able to make better business decisions when you know where you stand with customers. This can save you a lot of money and avoid wasting resources on areas of the business that no longer serve you. Insights could for example help you determine which products could be cut from your line, which products to focus your marketing budget on and whether you need to hire additional staff to speed up dispatch/respond faster to queries. Additionally, reviews can be used as a form of market research to identify areas where new offerings or features could be successful by identifying customer pain points or gaps in the market.
#7: Build Brand Equity
Customers who have had positive experiences with your brand are more likely to tell their friends about it and recommend it to others. This word-of-mouth marketing is invaluable for businesses looking to grow their customer base, especially when the paid advertising space is so saturated and competitive.
How Customer Reviews Impact Consumer Behaviour
A projected 500 million internet users in Europe will shop online in 2023, so we know eCommerce is continuing on an upward trajectory. With so many products and services available online, consumers often turn to customer reviews for guidance when making online purchases. As such, the importance of reviews cannot be stressed enough. Most of us require some kind of validation when making a decision, especially where money is concerned. While salespeople would in the past be able to tell you how great you look in those jeans, there is nobody to validate your decisions online. So many questions come to mind when purchasing online:
Are the measurements accurate?
What is the fit like? Will it actually look good on me?
Will my order arrive on time? Will it arrive at all?
Is this website legitimate or am I about to be scammed?
If I have a problem with my order, what do I do? Who do I talk to?
It’s easy to get defensive and say, “But of course I’m trustworthy, have you met me?!” But a customer doesn’t know you at all and has no way of knowing whether you’re running a legitimate business or not. An online store has a level of anonymity to it that unnerves a lot of consumers. With almost everyone being scammed in some shape or form online, it can sometimes just be easier to avoid a new shop altogether rather than lose money. This is where customer reviews can be a game changer for you.
Reviews Provide Reassurance
Customers reviews provide reassurance to potential customers that your product is worth investing in. In fact, consumers seek out other people’s opinions as a way of assessing your brand before committing to a purchase.
Positive Reviews Can Boost Your Sales
The presence of positive ratings can boost sales significantly by influencing shoppers with additional motivation and assurance that others have had good experiences with the product or service being reviewed, effectively creating an environment where consumers feel more confident about spending money on something new.
Ratings Give New Brands A Credibility Boost
For new brands, reviews help build credibility with prospective customers who may not be familiar with them otherwise. Seeing numerous 5-star ratings next to your business name could be enough validation for consumers to choose you over your competitors, simply due to having a higher level of public approval.
Negative Reviews Can Damage Your Reputation When Mishandled
On the flip side, poor ratings can completely undo months (if not years) worth of marketing and promotion efforts as one bad experience recounted online could cause countless potential customers to never even consider your business. Understanding what went wrong during those unfortunate events is vital because without knowing why someone felt compelled enough to write such scathing remarks you cannot begin to address these issues proactively going forwards either.
Where to Get Reviews for Your Shop
It is important to try to get reviews in the right places in order for them to be effective. If all your reviews are only on your own website, nobody’s going to see them unless they go directly to your website. However, many people turn to reputable 3rd party websites to get unbiased opinions on brands. Here are some of the best 3rd party websites to get customer reviews on:
Google My Business
Better Business Bureau
In fact, some of these can be integrated into your website so you can proudly showcase those 5-star ratings to everyone who visits your shop. There are also a number of 3rd party apps and plugins that enable you to incentivise customers to leave a review. For example, Shopify has apps such as Judge.me, Stamped.io and Yotpo to make leaving reviews easy. If you need help doing that, get in touch with a Shopify partner who can take care of all your Shopify development needs.
Best Practices for Managing Customer Reviews
There are a few key things to keep in mind when it comes to managing eCommerce product reviews for your online business:
1. Make it easy for customers to leave reviews
Make sure that your review system is easy to use and that it’s prominently displayed on your website. You want to make it as easy as possible for customers to leave reviews, otherwise, they’re likely to just move on and forget about it.
2. Respond to all reviews, good and bad
It’s important to respond to all reviews, whether they’re positive or negative. This shows that you value customer feedback and are willing to address any issues that may arise. Thank customers for their positive reviews and take the time to address any concerns raised in negative ones.
3. Don’t censor feedback Nobody likes negative reviews but the reality is that censoring reviews altogether will do more damage than a bad review. Censoring this feedback impedes your ability to grow and respond quickly to customer needs and expectations, leading to decreased customer satisfaction and loyalty in the long run.
4. Seek To Improve Your review system should never be set in stone, you should periodically review how well it's working and whether it's helping you achieve your goals.
Is there a system that's easier to use?
Which system is getting the best results?
Which timings work best for getting good feedback?
Are our responses appropriate?
How To Get More Customer Reviews
1. Ask Your Customers Directly:
One of the best ways to get customer reviews is by simply asking them to leave one. After completing a purchase or service, you can send an email that invites customers to review their experience with you on various platforms (Google, Yelp, etc.) or via a 3rd party app on your website. Consider offering incentives like discounts or free products for those who provide a review within a certain timeframe.
2. Offer Reminders:
If someone doesn’t leave a review right away after making a purchase, consider sending automated reminders via email that encourage them to write one. This gives people another chance at providing feedback if they haven’t yet done so. Just make sure not to be too pushy - no one likes feeling harassed!
3. Utilise Social Media Platforms:
Promote customer reviews across all of your social media pages by sharing links that will lead customers back towards where they can post their opinion/review of the product/service received from you. You can also share photos/videos showcasing happy customers or create polls asking followers what they think about specific products/services.
4. Add Review Links To Emails & Newsletters:
Make sure any emails sent out include links for leaving feedback or testimonials so subscribers don't miss the opportunity to leave a review. Adding customer success stories into newsletters and other communications may remind past customers to share their own positive experiences if they are yet to do so.
5. Don't Be Vague:
If your review system is in survey form, don’t ask yes or no questions - this doesn’t provide valuable insights for you to improve your offering. Instead, ask specific questions that require a written answer.
6. Get Your Timing Right:
The type of products you sell will determine a suitable time frame which is acceptable to request a review. Clothing, toys and household goods will generally be used right away so you can reasonably ask for feedback within 1 - 2 days. Face creams, supplements and other items that may take a while to formulate an opinion about may require follow-up after a month or more.
Online customer reviews provide potential shoppers with an unbiased opinion on a brand and inadvertently impact your bottom line by increasing conversions and improving customer loyalty. As if that weren't enough, positive customer reviews can be used to craft better marketing campaigns and improve your website's SEO rankings. For these reasons and more, it is clear why online customer reviews should be leveraged as a key component of any successful eCommerce strategy. Of course, you will need a well-designed website to ensure a smooth shopping and checkout experience for your customers. If you’ve been DIY-ing it up to now and feel it's time to level up your Shopify game, get in touch with our Shopify specialists to give your website a boost.