How to Maximize the Value of Customer Reviews to Boost Sales
Visible, numerous and trusted reviews on e-commerce websites — even negative ones — can be the difference between converting a sale and the user moving on. Word-of-mouth reviews have been around since the beginning of time, and as any marketer will tell you, they’re the best kind of advertisement. Consumers are constantly seeking recommendations from their peers before purchasing a product, and how others feel about a particular product can play a pivotal role in their purchase decisions.
When it comes to online shopping, I believe customer reviews have the same kind of swaying power as word-of-mouth recommendations. A whopping 82 percent of consumers read customer ratings or reviews before making a purchase. These online customer reviews and shoppable reviews will play a key role in the future of e-commerce. Therefore, if your business has an online presence in any capacity and isn’t yet utilizing them, now is the time to do so. Even for offline purchases, I believe customer reviews are a necessary ingredient for any brand product page.
- They paint a real-life picture: When consumers shop online, they're unable to see or feel a product in real life. While they could head to their local store to see if it’s in stock, this takes time — something most consumers don’t have a lot of these days. Online reviews enhance the customer buying journey by painting an honest, real-life picture of products, allowing customers to learn more about a product without physically seeing or touching it.
- Helps consumers make informed purchase decisions: Comprehensive product information can assist consumers with decision making, and reviews add an extra layer to product pages. While product specs are great, learning about past customers’ experiences with a product allows prospective customers to make the correct purchase decision, minimizing the chance of returns.
- Spurs consumers to buy: For brands, online reviews have the power to dissuade consumers from shopping elsewhere, which therefore increases conversion rates. Data from Reevoo reveals that 50 or more reviews per product can mean a 4.6 percent increase in conversion rate and an average 18 percent uplift in sales.
- Influences brand reputation: Consumers do a lot of online research before making a purchase, and what search engine results pages say about your brand can really impact its reputation. Encouraging happy customers to leave reviews can make a positive difference to how your brand is perceived both online and offline.
Shoppable Reviews: The Future of Online Reviews
Not all reviews are the same. As a brand, you can choose to have the usual moderated reviews that you collect and then show on your site or aggregated reviews from your trusted retail partners. Furthermore, there are technologies which lower the barrier and allow consumers to buy a product instantly through a review, shortening the path to purchase.
Shoppable reviews have all the same benefits as online reviews, with the addition of driving customers directly to the point of sale once they’ve finished researching the product on your website. Once they’re done reading the reviews and decide to purchase the product, they can do so at their retailer of choice with the click of a button.
Giving consumers the option to shop from your brand directly, or via a more convenient retail partner (online or in-store) saves losing out to competitors, and is something I expect to see a lot more of going forward.
Tips for Maximizing the Impact of Reviews
It’s all very well having reviews on your brand product pages, but there are a few best practices to keep in mind:
- Ensure they are visible. If you want to make sure consumers see reviews on your product pages, keep them above the fold, use a design style that stands out, and keep the placement consistent across your entire website.
- Display positive and negative reviews. When a product only has positive reviews, it can seem too good to be true, and consumers may not believe them. According to Bizrate, 52 percent of shoppers said a mix of positive and negative reviews makes them trust a product more. Furthermore, a mix of pros and cons can help customers make the right decision.
- Understand the data. How are the reviews on your website impacting customer purchase decisions? How many do customers read before purchasing? Are they reading them at all? Are they increasing or decreasing conversions? Understanding the impact of reviews can help your brand make data-driven decisions. It could be that your customer reviews mention a feature that’s not specified in the product details but is driving the majority of sales. Figuring this out and adding the extra information to your product page could therefore drive future sales.
Ultimately, online customer reviews are key to keeping shoppers engaged throughout the buying journey — from initial product research to the completion of their purchase. As long as the e-commerce market continues to grow, so, too, will the importance of reviews.
Related story: 3 Golden Rules for Protecting Your Brand From Fake Reviews
Joris Kroese is the CEO and founder of Hatch, a leading global omnichannel commerce solutions provider that offers seamless "Where-to-Buy" solutions for the world's biggest consumer brands.