Customer reviews are old news. After all, reviews have been around since Eve told Adam where to find the tastiest apple.
But in the evolving world of ecommerce, they’ve been getting steadily more and more important, and we expect that trend to continue into 2020 and beyond.
If you haven’t yet gotten serious about managing your customer reviews, now is the time.
We all like to get some reassurance before we buy things online.
We want to know that the vendor is reliable and won’t just take our money and run. We want to know that our products will ship on time and that we’ll get the items we expect.
As trust in corporations and authority figures drops, our trust in “people like us” is rising. According to one recent study, 83% of Americans say recommendations do make them more likely to purchase specific products and services.
The ecommerce space is so crowded today that the best ways for online sellers to differentiate themselves is through price and reviews. There’s only so far that you can go with trying to undercut every other vendor out there, so that leaves reviews.
I just bought a smartphone on eBay, and I had to choose between dozens of vendors all selling the same phone for more or less the same price. In the end, I chose the vendor who had 2,000+ reviews over the one who had 46 reviews, even though that vendor also had a slightly lower overall star rating.
I was willing to trust the vendor because he had so many reviews, and I bet you’d do the same.
Before you play down the importance of customer reviews, consider the impact of social proof. This is what happens when people copy the behavior of those around them, either consciously or subconsciously.
In your case, social proof helps close sales when people shop at your store because they see that 2,000+ happy customers already did so.
For example, look at Neil Patel. He places reviews and testimonials prominently on his personal blog, together with headshots of happy executives who worked with him as a consultant. The social proof here has helped to drive enough demand for Patel’s services that he ended up founding his own marketing agency, Neil Patel Digital.
Even if you’ve never heard of these people before, you’ll likely feel that Neil Patel Digital is a trustworthy company, simply because you saw their reviews.
Another big reason why reviews are important is that they form a connection between your eCommerce business and your customers. Everyone wants a personal relationship, but digital shopping is often impersonal. Reviews are a strong way for your customers to reach out to you, especially in today’s climate of vigilant reputation management.
When you respond to reviews, you reinforce that connection. Google emphasized this recently when they introduced a new service, sending an automatic notification to reviewers when the business responds to their review.
This means that consumers notice when you reply to their comments, and especially when you don’t reply. The seller who is the most responsive will get the most repeat customers.
Now that you’ve seen how significant customer reviews are for your ecommerce business, let’s talk about how to get more of them.
Sometimes that can seem like an uphill battle, because you can’t pay for reviews, and on some platforms, like Yelp, you can’t even ask for them.
Fortunately, a few strategic moves can help you pull in more reviews.
You can learn a lot from looking at Neil Patel’s reviews. Positive customer reviews and comments are a big part of how he got his marketing blog to rank number one for the keyword “digital marketing.”
He asks readers and viewers to leave him feedback on every single platform, including his blog, his Marketing School podcast, his YouTube channel, even on guest blog posts. The takeaway is that you shouldn’t just ask for reviews on your self-owned eCommerce website, for example.
Not only should you ask for them everywhere – but you might also want to consider opening up profiles on several leading review-friendly platforms simply to maximize the possibilities.
It’s a given that you’ll ask for reviews wherever possible. It’s a good idea to send a follow-up email a day or two after the customer received their order, inquiring whether everything went smoothly and asking for their suggestions on how things could be improved.
You can also take steps to subtly encourage people to leave reviews. When you set up your eCommerce store, include a “leave a review” button at the bottom of every product page.
Choose a design that prominently displays reviews, because people are more likely to leave a review if they’ve seen existing reviews.
It’s worth noting that Neil Patel doesn’t call it “leaving a review.” Instead, he asks for the reader’s response to his ideas, or whether the viewer tried and liked any of his suggestions, or if someone has another useful tactic to share.
By opening up a conversation, Patel makes it more likely that someone will reply, and that reply usually turns into a review.
As well as reinforcing your relationship with your customers, responding to reviews also leads more customers to leave their own reviews. Everyone likes to know that their opinion makes a difference. A quick reply like “We’re glad you enjoyed your new coffee-maker” or “I’m happy to hear that you appreciated our prompt delivery” makes your customers feel valued.
Customer reviews are here to stay, and all the signs indicate that they’ll continue to become more important as time goes by. Customers are looking for reassurance before they make a purchase, are affected by social proof, and look for sellers willing to make a personal connection. Reviews differentiate your eCommerce business, so now it’s time to put this advice into action.