Customer Reviews for Online Businesses
Before the popularity of the Internet the possibility that a common customer could give a vote to a retailer was far from the level it is today: there were no forums, Facebook pages, and no sites like Trivago and TripAdvisor. Businesses relied on word of mouth or local advertising, and finding a review about a business was incredibly tough. Now, customer reviews for online businesses are normal and even expected.
Positive reviews online are like gold for companies, and of course for those who have an eCommerce website.
The opinion expressed by a customer is the best form of advertising. So much so that over time platforms have emerged that allow the installation of appropriate modules on websites designed to contain and share customer opinions.
Today, an internet user has a myriad of companies, websites, and endless types of products at an incredible variety of prices. So, how does one manage to sift through the sea of available options and make an informed decision?
Easy: hunt for opinions, feedback, and reviews left by other users.
Benefits of Customer Reviews for Online Businesses
You should already know the power of reviews for business, you’ve probably read a few yourself before making a purchase once or twice. Reviews are a deciding factor for many people when they make purchases, whether online or offline.
The popular online review platform Trustpilot released an interesting report entitled “How consumers use reviews to make buying decisions” which highlights how feedback is nowadays crucial for driving purchasing decisions on the web.
The numbers speak for themselves: 1 million Americans were drawn for the analysis and 89% were informed about both the retailer and the individual product before completing the purchase.
Of these, 60% choose based on comments left by other customers (even negative ones). In particular, the information sought focuses on the quality of the product and the service provided (from customer support to logistics).
Feedback is, therefore, a bridge that makes the weak links of eCommerce stronger, that is, those elements that still block users a step away from completing a purchase. Reviews allow you to answer important questions such as: Can I trust them? Will they deliver the goods quickly? Are the products quality? Do they correspond to the photo on the product page? How can I contact them?
So, to ask another question: What benefits could my eCommerce website receive from online customer reviews?
Reviews Answer Questions
Users spend a lot of time sharing the reasons they buy products. If a positive review covers one of these reasons, other users who need the same thing and are looking for it in a product will be more likely to purchase.
Let’s say you have a website that sells toothpaste.
A potential customer is interested in a particular one that you sell but isn’t really sure about the taste; which is a very important factor to them.
Without contacting you, they can simply read the reviews of previous customers who have purchased this exact same product.
One of the reviewers describes the taste as lightly minty, with a gentle coolness to it that is not overpowering.
For this potential consumer reading this particular review, it ticks all the boxes for them as they strongly dislike overpowering flavors.
They consider this review as a deciding factor in their purchase and buy this product from you as a result.
Situations like this can greatly benefit you, as the reviews can answer presale questions for potential buyers and speed up the buying process, resulting in more sales for you and less time spent on inquiries. The more reviews you have, the greater the chance that a customer will inadvertently answer a question for a future customer.
There are many elements that can lead users to trust your website and one of the most important ones are the opinions of other people on the products or services you sell.
If the products do not have any reviews, it’s hard to know how popular that website or product is and that may be a deciding factor for a consumer.
People want to make purchases where others also make purchases because this gives a sense of security to the act of giving money to a stranger online.
If people can see real reviews from real people, this gives validation to the eCommerce website they are on and instils trust and assurance. Some review systems even enable the customer to upload a picture of their product if they have taken one, which can give further social proof to potential customers.
In addition to the reviews actually on an eCommerce website, there are also other platforms where consumers can leave reviews as well. For the online world, one of the most common would be Trustpilot who we mentioned before. You can even link your Trustpilot live rating to your store so people can see it updated with new reviews.
Reviews can work wonders for your organic search engine results. Google can sometimes give preference to eCommerce websites which have implemented a review system, and show the number of reviews and average rating accordingly in the search engine results.
In addition to potentially increasing your rankings, this can also increase the click-through rate as people can be more inclined to click on the link to your website if the rating is displayed next to it.
You should take advantage of this if you have an eCommerce store, and especially if you are in a niche where your competitors do not.
Shopify and WordPress have apps and plugins that you can install on your website to implement a review system with ease.
It’s no secret that good reviews can lead to more sales.
In fact, it’s one of the biggest factors in regards to someone purchasing something. If they can see proof that other people have bought the same product they are interested in and are satisfied, then they can be far more inclined to buy it too.
This is especially the case when it comes to higher-priced items. Generally speaking, the more costly an item is, the more likely a potential customer is to do more research before buying and will also read many reviews from various retailers. More often than not, this person would be heavily influenced to purchase from the eCommerce website that has the best reviews, even if it’s more expensive.
There’s also a bit of a predicament when it comes to 5-Star reviews. A lot of people don’t trust websites which have a perfect record and only the best possible reviews because they believe that the reviews have been faked or manipulated. It’s believed that the rating range of 4 to 4.7 is the sweet spot for trust as it appears more natural and every business has negative experiences.
Tips For Customer Reviews Online
Before you set out to get more reviews, it’s important to follow these tips below as they could save you some hassle in future.
Getting more reviews for a business is hard work, and there are the right ways and the wrong ways when it comes to obtaining them. This aspect of eCommerce is rife with fraudsters deceiving potential customers, and you probably don’t want to be caught up in dodgy practices.
Take your time and keep everything above board. Good things come to those who wait and if you provide a great product and superior customer service, the reviews will follow.
Do Not Provide Incentives
This is when you entice the customer to write a review in exchange for something in return. This is illegal in most countries, and if it’s not, it’s severely frowned upon and is not considered good business practice.
You are playing with fire if you choose this approach and there will be a lot of people who will leave a review just to get the reward in return and will often leave useless comments like “Wow”, “Great product”, “I like it”.
There is a time and a place to provide incentives, such as signing up for your newsletter in exchange for a coupon code, but never for leaving a review. The same applies to schemes, competitions, lotteries and other similar practices where you provide an incentive for the user in exchange for a review.
As long as you provide a quality product and service, the reviews will come. Sometimes, you just need to remind the customer that they can leave a review, as most just simply won’t take the time to do it, even if they were very satisfied with their purchase. In fact, more people are likely to leave a review if they are not happy as opposed to being completely satisfied.
Reviews From Verified Customers
If people are able to leave reviews on your website, make sure only customers can do this. You do not want just anyone to be able to leave a review, as this opens the system for abuse, both on your side and the consumer side.
You don’t want your website flooded with fake reviews, whether positive or negative, and consumers want to see real reviews from real people, whether positive or negative.
There will always be unsatisfied customers; it’s the law of averages.
No matter how good your products or service may be, there will always be someone who is impatient, nitpicks, has unrealistic expectations, or is a serial complainer. It’s an unfortunate aspect of business, but you have to deal with it.
If consumers can see that your reviews are from verified customers, this can establish trust and confidence with them to make a purchase from you.
Don’t be afraid to publish negative reviews. Sometimes you will make mistakes and maybe deserve a bad review, other times the consumer will be at fault but will leave a bad review anyway out of spite. Regardless, both of those situations provide you with an opportunity to resolve the matter and show everyone how good your company is.
You have to handle every situation professionally and be transparent with your audience and customers.
How to Get More Customer Reviews
Sometimes, getting more customer reviews can be challenging, so you may need to make it easier for the consumer to do so. It’s very important that you abide by the law, as online reviews are taken very seriously. Depending on your country, you likely must not provide an incentive for consumers to leave a review, such as offering them something in exchange for doing so.
This also means you can’t pay for them or have people you know to create them either. If your country doesn’t care about these dodgy business practices, then you should think about what is morally and ethically right in regards to getting more reviews.
You wouldn’t like it if you bought something from a company based on a review that turned out to be fake, so why do that to your potential customers?
This means you have to earn reviews naturally, but you can, of course, work to expedite the process.
Follow Up Emails
Customers love to be informed and know what’s going on.
Not only is it good customer service, but it can also provide an avenue for a customer to leave you a review.
Update your customers when:
The order has been paid for, complete with an order receipt as proof of purchase.
Also, give them an estimated delivery date in the same email.
The product has been shipped
Also supply a tracking number with a link in the email, so that they can check the status of the delivery without needing to contact you while also reducing your workload.
The product has been delivered
Let them know that their product has arrived (according to the courier) and that you really appreciate their purchase. Mention that they can also leave a review if they choose to and inform them how they can do it.
A while after the product has been delivered
This email can do two things;
Remind them of the experience they had with you which may then result in another sale.
Remind them they can leave you a review if they haven’t already.
These emails are a professional courtesy that keeps the customer updated and know what is happening with their purchase. Every single email from above could be a deciding factor in the customer leaving you a review and/or purchasing again in future.
Some customers are just happy with a proof of purchase and will wait for their delivery and leave you a review after, others will want to be in the loop for all four of those emails and will leave you a review after.
When we see a brand or business for the first time and know nothing about it the decision process when it comes to buying needs validation. You may make a decision based on the look and feel of the business, how the staff behaves, etc.
The feeling is similar when a customer has to decide on purchasing from your website, and they will also look for validation.
They will more often than not read the opinions of those who have already purchased from you in order to gain an understanding of what your products are like. A business can be very successful thanks to the face and opinions of its customers.
If you have a few customers who are willing to write or even record some testimonials for you then this can really be great for validation and social proof. Real people offering real insight into your brand from their actual experiences is very relatable and assuring for a potential customer.
You can try sending an automatic email to customers who made a purchase from you, informing them that they can leave a review if they choose to. Do not offer them anything in return for doing so, or even suggest that they will somehow benefit from you by leaving a review. Just a simple friendly reminder that they can leave one if they want to is enough.
This can be a part of your follow up email process from before or can just be the last email that is sent after the courier has confirmed delivery. Once again, Shopify and WordPress can easily enable you to integrate automatic email systems that can sync with certain delivery companies so you don’t have to worry about this.
Integrate A System on Your Website
Create a simple and intuitive evaluation system such as Stars or Numbered Ratings. By doing this, the buyer can rate their purchase with you and future potential buyers will be able to see the rating. This goes back to what we mentioned before about SEO, social proof, and potential customers having their pre-sale questions answered.
You can set it up so that only people who have actually purchased from you can leave a review, which means all your websites visitors can see that your reviews come from verified purchases.
You can even make it so that the reviews aren’t published automatically so that you can moderate them for issues such as profanity or inappropriate content. In situations like this, it’s OK to filter your reviews, but, you must not filter and disapprove reviews simply for being negative.
Leave A Card
You can also leave a small card inside every package you send.
The card doesn’t need to just be about leaving a review either, as it can be a note thanking the customer for their purchase, asking them to follow you on social media, and down the bottom some information on how the customer can leave a review if they choose to.
Even if there’s no mention of leaving a review, the card could be enough for some people to want to leave you one anyway because it was a nice surprise.
Handwritten cards or notes are really nice gestures and add a touch of personalization to your delivery.
If you’re doing something great that your competitors are not, it enables you to stand out from the crowd and make people take notice.
Reviews are vital to the success of your eCommerce website and in the age of Amazon you probably already know this. Fortunately for you, online store owners, getting customer reviews is not that difficult using the tips and techniques we have mentioned above.
You have to be available with users in various ways to solve any problem they may have. If you provide a quality product, timely delivery, and fantastic customer service, the reviews will follow.