Let’s face it. The increase in access to online shopping has drastically cut down the amount of brick and mortar businesses we frequent. In fact, PowerReviews’ data shows that in a single month nearly 60% of people make up to three online purchases through Amazon alone.
As online shopping grows, so too does the competition. And with an astounding 86% of consumers saying reviews are an essential resource when making purchase decisions, product reviews are more important than ever. To effectively drive traffic, conversions and sales you need get more reviews from your customers, and we’ll tell you how.
This guide details not only how to do that, but also discusses why reviews are important, what makes a quality review and how to leverage a ratings and review platform to make your life easier.
To make things easier you can use these jumplinks to navigate between sections. Just click on “8 Ways to Get More Reviews Today” if you’re eager to get right to the strategies!
- A Look at the Modern Product Review
- Why You Need More Reviews
- What Makes a Quality Product Review
- 8 Ways to Get More Reviews Today
- Using A Ratings and Review Platform
A Look at the Modern Product Review
Before we dive into the importance of reviews and how to increase them at scale, let’s take a look at an example of a modern product review to make sure we’re all on the same page. A typical online review is made up of several components:
- An average star rating out of 5
- Custom product feedback from purchasers
- Images or videos shared from purchasers
- Pros, cons and best uses
- Badging verifying the user’s qualification
There are also brands and retailers that use ratings and review platforms to customize the look of their forms and the information that they share. This allows brands and retailers to sort reviews by their pros and cons, ask users to describe themselves, add tags unique to product types and customize the CSS to be more on-brand.
Why You Need More Product Reviews
PowerReviews works with thousands of brands and retailers to help collect, display and syndicate user generated content all over the web. Our years of experience with ratings and reviews have given us access to tons of data that sheds light on the importance of product reviews. Perhaps the most important concept to understand is the sheer number of consumers that tell us reviews are essential to making a purchase decision.
While that’s all fine and well, ratings and reviews aren’t going to get much company buy-in if they don’t contribute to the bottom line. Look no further than the below statistics we’ve put together on how more reviews impact traffic, conversion rates and sales, while also helping you create a better product for your customers.
35% of consumers begin their purchasing journey on a search engine, and if you’re not within the first few positions of the results pages you’re missing out on incredibly qualified traffic. That’s where reviews come in. Google can actually index product reviews, so increasing the number of product reviews you have will increase the number of keywords you rank for. These are especially relevant keywords as they consist of consumer language instead of marketing copy.
Here’s an example of PowerReviews customer Lush ranking in search for a popular keyword about shower scrubs thanks to their customer’s review.
That’s not an isolated incident. Our customers see an average 108% lift in impressions on their product pages when their number of reviews increases from zero, and some of our clients see as much as a 239% lift in impressions to product pages.
Product Reviews Increase Conversions
As customers continue to look online when purchasing more high consideration products, it’s important to reduce barriers to conversion. Imagine you’re looking to make a life-changing purchase online, buying something like a mattress, but you don’t have the opportunity to feel the mattress in person. Is it too soft, too hard or does it feel just right? Product reviews ease those barriers by providing your customers with key insights needed to make confident purchases.
Just think, if Goldilocks had seen some online reviews she may not have spent unnecessary time testing the wrong beds (don’t even get us started on how much porridge she could have avoided eating).
You spend almost a third of your life in your bed, so I doubt you’d buy a new mattress with no reviews. Room & Board, a contemporary home furnishings retailer with mattresses in their online catalogue, fully understands the importance of reviews for their products and does a phenomenal job collecting and displaying their product review content.
Product Reviews Help Create Better Products
To continue with the mattress example, let’s imagine that users who are ordering your beds are frequently leaving reviews commenting on a chemical smell that came with the box, or noting that the mattress is softer than advertised. Whether by accident or on purpose, there are brands that completely ignore these messages, finding it easier to bury their heads in the sand than respond to criticisms. These companies will see sales dwindle as product ratings and reviews continue to skew negative.
However, there are leading brands out there that take customer feedback — both positive and negative — and use it to create better products. The best ecommerce managers take this feedback into consideration and pass it to the proper internal teams to guide improvements. And the top ecommerce managers will actually respond to those reviews alerting their customers their feedback is appreciated. Those customers will feel empowered and future shoppers will see that a brand cares about its customers.
What Makes a Quality Product Review?
Now that we’ve established the importance of increasing product reviews from your customers, let’s move on to what makes a great product review. Obviously it’s important to drive reviews that are more than a few short words, but what else can you do to help increase the quality of content on your pages?
Customized Fields for Product Type
One little-known strategy to generate more robust reviews is to customize each of your displays to share information specific to each product type. For example, if you’re selling a sweatshirt or pair of shoes, then collect and share information on the fit, sizing and comfort to help sway buyers on the cusp of a purchase.
Qualified Reviewers Sharing Feedback
Shady tactics exist in the ecommerce space and as competition increases, brands and retailers may feel pressured to find ways to generate less-than-qualified reviews. Whether that’s by writing those reviews themselves or by buying them from someone with no product experience, this has lead to some distrust in the industry.
So it comes as no surprise that more than a third (36%) of shoppers say that reviews which clearly identify who wrote them – such as a verified buyer or a review written as a result of a free sample – were ‘very important’ or ‘important’. As you start generating reviews, make sure you have a content moderation system in place to help weed out all of the unqualified reviews that could break the trust you’ve built with customers.
Negative Reviews Actually Help
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.
Before you hurry to sweep negative reviews under the rug, realize that not only do those reviews lend credibility to your products, but they also offer feedback to help create a better product for your customers. Not only that, but our data shows that customers are less likely to purchase products with a perfect 5-star review than one between a 4.2-4.5 rating.
Answers to Popular Product Questions
Nobody knows what helps a customer convert better than the customers themselves. Let your customers ask questions on the product pages and respond in a timely manner to make the sale. If you can’t support the staff required to answer all of those questions, you can also use a product question and answer tool that allows past purchasers or community experts to respond on your behalf.
Check out this video with Skechers’ e-commerce Merchandising Manager, Timothy Lakin, to see how the Skechers team used customer questions to increase their product conversion rates by 32%.
User-Generated Visual Content
Almost all customers have a quick way to take a picture of your products to share and it’s crucial to get them to share those images and videos on the reviews that they leave. Visual content on your product pages is the current must-do to stay competitive online. In fact, 72% of consumers say they regularly or always seek out visual content prior to purchase.
Make it easy for your customers to share their images and videos with an Image Gallery on your product pages.
8 Ways to Get More Reviews from Your Customers
Now that we’ve covered what the modern review consists of, why you need more product reviews on your site and what makes a quality review, it’s time to dig into the tips and strategies to get more reviews on your site. If any of these ideas seem a bit overwhelming then please feel free to contact your Client Success Director or ask questions in the comments!
1. Encourage Customers to Write Reviews With Post-Purchase Emails
The first and potentially most obvious way to get more reviews for your products is to ask customers to submit them. They’re the most qualified to write about your brand. And assuming they’ve had a good experience, they’re the most likely to write something positive. Unfortunately, reaching out to each individual customer one-by-one isn’t an efficient way to drive as many reviews as you need, especially since only 42% of consumers report leaving feedback for their purchases.
Find a way to collect customer emails at the point of purchase–whether that’s in your physical location or online–so that after enough time has passed since their initial order, you can ask for feedback. You can either bulk upload emails to send or use a ratings and reviews platform to send post-purchase emails asking users to submit feedback on the specific products they bought.
2. Incentivize Customers to Write Reviews
If simply asking your customers for reviews isn’t getting you the conversion rates you’re looking for, you can incentivize the process. Create motivation for your customers to write reviews for your products by offering them incentives for doing so.
Below are a few of our favorite ways to incentivize customers, but be careful of what you offer in exchange for reviews. While many websites are fine with offering small incentives, some sites, like Amazon, are a bit more strict with their submission guidelines. It’s important to remain as transparent as possible with your reviews, and create a system to badge different reviews based on whether the reviewer purchased or received an incentive.
On average, our clients see an 83% uplift in review completion rates during sweepstakes campaigns. You can create sweepstakes in-house, or if you’re currently a PowerReviews client, you can leverage the $1,000 PowerReviews Sweepstakes to help boost product reviews.
Offer Free Shipping or Discounts:
Offering free or discounted shipping to customers in exchange for reviews is not only a great way to increase product content, it’s a good way to get those same users back to your site to make additional purchases.
3. Optimize Your Review Forms for Mobile
If it hasn’t been drilled into your mind enough quite yet, please note that mobile optimization is incredibly important. In fact, recent worldwide data shows that mobile internet usage has finally surpassed usage from a standard desktop.
One of PowerReviews’ amazing customers evo, which is an online retailer of outdoor gear and fashion apparel, noted that between 40-50% of their emails were being opened on a mobile device. Instead of viewing this as a potential problem, the team at evo worked on a solution to convert those viewers to reviewers. evo worked with PowerReviews to update and implement a new, fully responsive and mobile friendly post purchase email.
With this new implementation in place the evo team saw a 23% increase in the amount of reviews written on all devices in the months following the update. Additionally, the number of reviews written on a mobile device increased by 107% in the first month, and increased 203% in the second month. Nathan Decker of evo saw more benefits than just an increase in reviews.
“In addition to seeing an increase in mobile reviews, we also were able to enhance our brand image with the customizable and fully responsive email template.” Nathan Decker, eCommerce Director at evo
4. Make It Easy to Review Multiple Purchases at Once
The key to getting more reviews for your products is to make it simple for customers to leave them. Since many of your online shoppers are buying multiple items at a single time, it doesn’t make much sense to send them individual followups asking them to review their purchases one at a time.
Instead, when emailing your customers, include all of their recent purchases so they can review them at a single time. Whether you’re emailing customers from your own database, or leveraging a ratings and review platform to do so, including multiple items at a time will significantly increase the amount of content on your site.
5. Use a Product Sampling Program
If you don’t have many recent customers to look to in order to generate new reviews, it could be time to turn to Product Sampling. Product Sampling is the process of sending samples of the products you would like reviews on to your ideal target market to help build interest for your products and generate more high quality reviews. It’s especially important to consider Product Sampling in the following situations.
- You’re launching a new product with no reviews at all. Not only will Product Sampling increase the general awareness of your new product, but you’ll also drive invaluable product feedback right off the bat.
- When you have seasonal products that require rapid inventory turnover. Get a jump on the seasonal competition by increasing traffic and conversion with Product Sampling.
- When you need a more targeted audience for your products. If you’re finding your current reviews to be lower quality, then consider a sampling program to drive robust reviews.
6. Design and Share Reviews on Social
More than anything, customers just want a platform to express their feedback and feel that they’re being heard. If you don’t recognize that need, then you could be missing out on valuable reviews. In fact, 55% of consumers not writing reviews cited needing a reward or recognition to do so.
One easy way to show users you’re recognizing their contributions is to share their reviews on social. You can either directly share their quote–while making sure to give them credit–or mock up a nice looking image to share. Here’s an example of one our team created to showcase what that could look like.
7. Collect Different Forms of Product Reviews
Images and videos are crucial aspects of strong customer reviews and increase the likelihood of purchase. In fact, 72% of shoppers say they’re more likely to buy a product that has reviews featuring photos and videos in addition to text. Allowing customers to submit photos and videos as part of reviews will not only help you increase the amount of unique content available, but you’ll also increase customer conversion.
Leverage a tool with robust image displays and Native Video, which allows consumers to submit and view videos directly on your site rather than redirecting them to YouTube or another third-party.
8. Use a Ratings and Review Platform
As you may have noticed, throughout this article we mention various ways to generate, display and syndicate your product reviews by leveraging a ratings and review platform. Ratings and review software providers help facilitate some of the activities that we’ve discussed, such as:
- Collecting content via various channels, such as Post Purchase Emails and Write-a-Review forms
- Displaying your reviews with various customizations to ensure you’re driving the most conversions
- Providing best-practice ways to host and display visual content like customer images and videos
- Optimizing all of your review content for search, increasing your rankings and traffic from organic channels
- Syndicating all of the reviews brands generate to retailers or increasing a retailers’ access to reviews from brands
- Additional functionality to help increase conversion, such as streamlined product Questions and Answers
So if you’ve tackled all of the strategies that we’ve listed and are still hungry for more reviews, get in touch with PowerReviews to learn how ratings and reviews can help you drive traffic, sales and insights. Additionally, please share any additional feedback you have in the comments section!