Ecommerce advice: how customer reviews can help build your brand, and how to get them
Have you ever shopped online, and thought: "This looks amazing - but what are people saying about it ?"
When shopping online, reading the reviews before buying is now second nature. 95% of us do it because no matter how good the sales pitch is, or how stunning the website, a past buyer's opinion is always more trustworthy than what a seller can promise. Whatever you sell, reviews are one of the quickest ways to convince a casual shopper to make a purchase.
They boost your ecommerce site by enhancing your brand image, inspire customers to talk about your product, and can increase your search engine rankings. As far as marketing goes, reviews should be one of your top priorities. Here, we'll take you through how you can incorporate reviews into your website, how to encourage more of them, and how to make them visible.
Add reviews to your websiteAs your website will often be the first place users head to, it's important to make sure reviews are visible on there. The best way to go about adding this fetaure is by using a review platform. With this, you pay a monthly fee for the review service provider to collect and sort reviews on your behalf. To increase your trustworthiness, a good review platform ensures only genuine reviews from verified buyers are used. Customers are becoming increasingly savvy about fake reviews, and many won't trust reviews that aren't verified by a reputable source. There are many independent review platforms out there. When choosing, it's worth considering:
- Does the review platform have lots of users?
- Is it focused on ecommerce? Some services (e.g. Google My Business and Yelp) are great for showcasing your physical shop for local sales but are less focused on online selling.
- Is it on the list of Google Review Partners? This ensures Google counts all your reviews, and ranks your whole website and individual product pages in its search results pages (otherwise known as search engine optimisation or SEO).
With the above in mind, two of the most popular review sites are Trustpilot and Feefo. Both have features to automatically 'nudge' customers to leave a review, as well as enabling reviews to be displayed on your website they make setting up your review strategy a breeze. Google is also working on improving it's review platform, and then there's relative new comer Yotpo.
Ultimately, you'll need to review each platform side by side and take note of features that matter most to your business (for example, we chose Trustpilot as it enabled us to automatically collect product reviews and is, in our opinion, the most trusted review platform out there - however it is also one of the most expensive).
How to get reviewsUp to 80% of shopping reviews are triggered by follow-up messages, which invites customers to leave a review. So when it comes to feedback, it seems that if you don't ask, you don't get! Here are some ways to encourage them:
- Email: the trick is to make the review process as easy as possible for your customers. Review platforms can send automated messages to customers after purchase, urging them to review and linking to the review site.
- Social: if you enable reviews on your Facebook page, you can link to this in a message asking for feedback.
- A note included in the package: packaging is a key part of your marketing strategy, so a simple, stylish card inviting them to get in touch if there are any issues or concerns (and to hint that they should do this before leaving feedback!) On the other side of the card, explain where and how they can leave a review.
Can customers see your reviews?Your aim here is twofold. First is to make sure your customers can see your reviews, and second is to have your reviews taken into account by Google to improve your search engine rankings. Here's how to start:
How to attract customers
- Use Website integration: the review service platform you choose will have a widget to display reviews on your site. You'll be able to match item-specific reviews to their corresponding product page on your site. You can also display more general reviews about your site and service on your 'general pages (e.g. Home, About and Contact Us).
- Social: your chosen platform will also have a plugin for displaying reviews and ratings on your social pages (e.g. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest).
- Build up a 'bank' of reviews before displaying them: it's better to wait until you have multiple reviews for most products before displaying them or it may seem like the item isn't popular.
How will reviews boost my SEO ranking?
Integrate your aggregate star ratings into rich snippets: rich snippets refer to a form of standardised, structured data that you submit to Google. Google then displays this in their search results, just under the page title. They're designed to inform Google (and users) about that page's content. Wordpress and large ecommerce platforms (e.g. Shopify and Magento) make it easy to add rich snippets. For SEO, aim for 4 stars or more: most SEO experts (including SEMRush) advise that to get a positive bounce in the Google page rankings, you need a review score of 4 stars or more. Anything less can affect your page negatively so only integrate star ratings into your rich snippets for products rated 4-stars or above.
Responding to negative reviews (and preventing them in the first place)
As a rule, never let a bad review go unanswered. It sends a message to customers that you don't care about resolving customer concerns. You can learn a lot from reviews (good and bad), both on your own site and on those of your competitors. For instance, based on their comments, which product feature has impressed reviewers? Those positive features are worth highlighting in your product descriptions and imagery.
As for negative reviews, it's often service issues rather than the product itself that triggers them. For instance, was the wrong size or colour shipped out? Did it arrive in a bruised and battered state due to inadequate packaging? Having the right packaging solutions in place ensures your products get from A to B in good condition, and on time. What's more, make it extra special and it can be just what's needed to ensure those five star ratings keep rolling in.