E-commerce: Six Ways to Effectively Leverage Online Customer Reviews
Online product reviews can create opportunities around one of the oldest direct marketing tools: customer testimonials. Such reviews and ratings can drive conversions on your Web site. Take Petco.com, for instance. Visitors that browse the top-rated product pages on Petco.com convert 49 percent more often and spend 63 percent more than browsers using other categories, according to the pet supplies marketer’s vice president of e-commerce John Lazarchic. He revealed these facts and a number of tips at a session at the eTail conference, held earlier this month in Palm Desert, Calif.
1. Solicit initial reviews through promotions. “When we first launched the program, we promoted reviews with a contest,” Lazarchic said. (“Write a review and get the chance to win a $100 gift card.”) He noted that this only was necessary at the outset, as once the reviews reached a particular critical mass, they became self perpetuating.
2. Include customer reviews in promotions. Customer reviews create multiple promotional opportunities. Rather than putting individual product categories on sale, Petco regularly puts the most highly rated products on sale. Online ads for affiliates or search engines often feature customer reviews as well. “We use catchy snippets from reviews as testimonials throughout our promotions,” Lazarchic said.
E-mail provides another opportunity to leverage customer reviews. “We regularly see 50 percent greater click-through rates on e-mails that feature review content,” he noted.
3. Build a separate domain name for customer reviews. Individual domains are indexed separately by search engines. So a keyword search on Google for “pet beds” might show results both for Petco.com and reviews.Petco.com. Lazarchic said this double exposure happens frequently.
4. Allow customers to post pictures with their reviews. “Customer photos convey passion,” Lazarchic pointed out. Petco customers can upload photos showing how the company’s products work in a real-world setting. Occasionally, a customer will send in a negative photo that shows the drawbacks or problems with a particular product. Petco has sent some of these photos to product manufacturers, which has resulted in improvements to several product lines.