It’s that time of year again. With Black Friday just a few days away, you are likely double-checking your holiday marketing plan.

If you’re like most retailers, there are a handful of products that are key to your holiday sales success. However, do you have everything in place to ensure these products will have the effect you hope they will?

Sufficient inventorycheck
Promo calendar – check
Customer reviews?

According to Walker Sands, more than 86% of consumers say reviews are an essential resource when making purchase decisions.

Here are a few quick tips that can help you quickly generate reviews for your key products:

  1. Burst Campaign: Target previous buyers of the product to write a review.
  2. Product Sampling: Identify your best customers (and those that typically write high quality reviews) and send a few items to those customers free of charge. You will build loyalty with your best customers and in the process, you will get quality content that will pay back this cost many times over. Note: always ensure that reviews from sample programs are tagged disclosing the fact that a free sample was provided.
  3. Employee Reviews: Encourage your employees who own or use the product to write reviews. Note: always ensure employee disclose their employment along with a review.
  4. Syndicated Content: Ask the manufacturer if they have any reviews of the products they will share with you. Many manufacturers collect product reviews and will happily share the content to help drive sales of their products.

Using these tips, you can ensure that all of your key holiday products have review coverage to make your holiday season a 5 star success!

We know that no one wants to have a negative review on their site (ideally, every product and customer experience would be 5 star). And while it is tempting to reject negative reviews, research shows that they are as important to have on your website as are the positive reviews.

82% of shoppers are seeking out negative reviews, and for those under 45, this number jumps up to 86%. Shoppers know that every item can’t be the newest, the fastest, then cheapest and the highest quality.

There are a few other reasons to keep negative reviews on your site. First, allowing negative reviews adds authenticity to your review content and shows potential customers that reviews are authentic, which in turn builds their trust in your company. Second, customers look for balanced feedback on products and services to make buying decisions. Sometimes a negative review can even lead to a buying decision as one person’s negative is a positive decision making factor for another consumer. Finally, negative reviews provide valuable feedback about your products, which you can then use to make improvements (more on this topic later).

Rather than running from these negative reviews, we recommend using them as an opportunity to communicate and engage with your customers. Below are some suggestions to think about when engaging with a customer regarding their negative feedback:

1)  Empathize with the customer’s frustration

2)  Thank the customer for their feedback and let them know that you value their input

3)  Provide customer care phone number

4)  Offer to let the customer return the item for a refund or exchange

5)  Address a question or concern the customer has

We recommend using one or both of the following methods for responding to customers.

Option one: Post a public reply to the review

Posting a response shows customers you are listening to them and that you care about your products. This is particularly useful when a product defect or feature has been (or is in the process of being) fixed.

Option Two: Respond to negative reviews via email

By directly reaching out to an unsatisfied customer, you are creating a more personal interaction and can quickly resolve issues while creating goodwill. The one downside of this option is that if you only respond to the customer directly, you are missing out on the opportunity for other customers to see your response. Please also note that a review response email program requires that you capture an email address during the review process.

It’s beneficial to define a strategy around responding to negative (or positive) reviews on your site.  While we recommend using this opportunity to address customers and acknowledge their feedback, we don’t feel it is necessary to respond to every negative review on your site. Understanding which reviews require a response, what your timing and solutions for response will be, along with the response itself are all important components of a merchant response program.

Walker Sands PowerReviews Study

The viral nature of the Internet allows social media and other user-generated content, such as Ratings and Reviews, to influence millions of people. Why do Ratings and Reviews matter for consumers?

  • Increased Consumer Confidence: Did you know that 90% of consumers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews?1 Ratings and Reviews undoubtedly provide- easily accessible and digestible information to consumers and help them make informed and objective decisions while on the path to purchase.
  • Enhanced Consumer Loyalty: Ratings and Reviews give consumers an instantaneous and meaningful platform to share their feedback about products and companies across the world. PowerReviews CEO, Matt Moog states that once “consumers have left a little piece of themselves, they are proud of it.” Consumers like to feel that they are being heard and are special, for example when they receive emails from TripAdvisor telling them that they are in the top 15% or that thousands of people have read their reviews. By giving consumers recognition and an opportunity to voice their opinions, they ultimately pay it forward. Engagement based loyalty creates an authentic relationship for consumers.

But what are the benefits for businesses?
For starters, Ratings and Reviews increase sales and drive traffic. Other advantages include:

  • Brand Credibility: Each review establishes your brand’s credibility and increases consumer confidence during their purchasing path, in turn increasing your conversion rates. More than 86% of consumers say reviews are an essential resource when making purchase decisions2. Clearly, reviews are an essential part of the purchase process. If the brand or retailer isn’t providing them, the consumer will seek them out from a third party like Amazon.
  • Turning Negative Reviews Into Positive Consumer Experiences: Negative reviews show consumers that reviews are authentic and quickly resolve issues while creating goodwill. According to the Forbes article, The Upside of Bad Online Reviews, “Barely 25% of online shoppers report that they are unlikely to purchase a product after reading negative reviews, and most take those reviews with a grain of salt. Truth is, negative reviews probably won’t hurt your business – and they ultimately may help boost consumer conversion rates.” Leverage a product review analytics and reporting tool to find trends in negative sentiments and create better products.
  • Keeping Your Consumers Close
    Consumers typically need several reviews to make purchases comfortably. 66% of consumers read 10 reviews or fewer before purchasing a product. 22% read between 11 and 25 reviews, and 6% read more than 25 reviews2 . Ratings and Reviews power a virtuous cycle where more reviews drive more transactions which in turn drive more reviews.

The modern day marketer can conclude that ratings and reviews have become one of the most powerful ways for retailers and brands to engage consumers at the point of purchase. For businesses and consumers, a star can make all the difference!

1 Dimensional Research
2 Walker Sands PowerReviews Study