Online Shoppers Rely on Product Reviews, But Few Write Their Own
A new survey from Clutch found that 81 percent of online shoppers do not write reviews, even though many of these same shoppers rely on them when making purchasing decisions.
Customer reviews provide context and social proof, helping to persuade shoppers to complete purchases. More importantly, reviews offer an outside perspective on products, complementing descriptions provided by retailers. One in five shoppers identify reviews as one of the most important factors in their purchasing decisions.
The survey revealed common pain points that limit reviews. Customers identify lack of time and lack of incentives as the leading reasons why they're unwilling to write reviews. To persuade more customers to write reviews, e-commerce businesses should address these obstacles by changing the processes they use for gathering reviews.
How to Encourage Customer Reviews
To address customers’ lack of time, e-commerce retailers should make writing reviews quicker and easier for customers. For example, retailers can use star ratings and ask guided questions about products. Limiting the number of characters per review can also signal that reviews should be short and focused, rather than long and comprehensive.
Additionally, incentives would persuade 10 percent of consumers to begin writing reviews, with 5 percent of current reviewers citing incentives as their motivation.
E-commerce retailers that offer incentives must comply with current Federal Trade Commission rules. These rules state that companies cannot offer rewards or compensation in exchange for positive reviews.
Legal incentives include offering entry in a contest or a small credit or discount that can be applied to a future purchase in exchange for any review (positive or negative).
In addition to revealing areas where e-commerce retailers can improve their processes, the survey also confirmed the efficacy of email marketing. Nearly 25 percent of shoppers who write reviews did so in response to email outreach.
In general, email outreach should be sent approximately one week after a product is delivered to give customers a chance to test their purchases. Experts recommend using A/B testing to determine the best timing for engaging customers about providing a product review.
Experts also advise e-commerce retailers to prioritize customer service in post-purchase emails. In an initial post-purchase email, e-commerce retailers can request feedback and offer to fix any issues with an order. Once any problems have been solved, a second email can request a review. This strategy prioritizes customer service, increasing the chances of both customer satisfaction and reviews.
Survey data backs up this approach. One-third (33 percent) of customers who write reviews do so because they're satisfied with their purchase, compared to only 2 percent of customers who take the time to review a bad experience.
Although e-commerce retailers face challenges in gathering reviews, this survey data suggests actionable solutions that can help them garner more customer reviews.
The survey examined the purchasing habits and preferences of 1,000 online shoppers.
Michelle Delgado is a content developer and marketer at Clutch.
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