For any eCommerce business, store and product reviews are crucial for sales and customer generation.
Everyone’s encountered that item on Amazon or a store online with few or no product reviews. It gives you the heebie-jeebies.
Kind of the same way this doll gives you the heebie-jeebies:
If it’s something a bit more appealing than Annie above, and you hover over that add to cart button, your savvy online customer spidey-senses start buzzing madly when you see zero reviews or empty stars. Your eyes start dashing between the cart and the absent product reviews, the empty stars, and/or the no seller rating.
How do you trust this abstract entity if no one has trusted them before; if no one has ever felt the urge to leave a few words about their good or bad experience?
1. The Trust Gap:
Product reviews bridge the trust gap between your potential customers and you by introducing a middle-man: the existing customer.
Existing customers are your most valuable resources for making more sales. We all go to the testimonials or reviews section of a business’s website when considering a purchase.
If you can drive more of your existing customers to leave more reviews on your website, services, and/or products, you’ll be doing three things effectively:
- Creating trust for new customers
- Encouraging and rewarding existing customers for their feedback on your products and/or services
- Learning key selling and pain points from their feedback which is extremely valuable for your marketing and sales teams.
Reviews are a form of user-generated content or UGC for short. As web technology’s ability to track people has improved, so has the need to cater to specific categories of people.
UGC meets this need and offers a solution by giving authenticity to the sometimes robotic and cold marketing tactics that target these people.
Long story short: when a product has no reviews, it frightens people.
2. You Can’t Compete Without Reviews:
When it comes to mobile apps, business software, and eCommerce, especially Amazon, customers expect reviews. And in other verticals, reviews will still help you make sales and gain the valuable insights highlighted above.
Let’s take a look at a SaaS example on the ubiquitous software comparison site Capterra:
The simple presence of yellow makes Scoro stand apart from ProSTART. This visual queue instantly draws the potential customers attention. Then the user might consider the amount of reviews:
More people have reviewed vCita. Does this mean more people use vCita, enjoy vCita, want to share vCita, etc? Maybe. And it gives vCita a distinct point of simple comparison on a page full of very similar language.
With numerous software comparison sites existing, the more reviews you have, the more likely you can compete with the heavyweights.
Similarly, reviews can be the most compelling resource when everything else is the same on an online shopping website.
Let’s look at Amazon:
While even more expensive, the first option is instantly the more appealing offering. And, on further research of the product page, those reviews might just convince the customer to buy where, again, similar product descriptions don’t make compelling arguments over one another.
Mobile App Competition
One of these apps has been more successful at driving reviews. Maybe its review engine is better oiled (we’ll be covering getting your own review engine going in another post) or maybe more people enjoy using Tiny Calendar.
The user doesn’t know, but the 405 vs. 5 makes a statement that can’t be ignored.
While the app store goes with grey stars that aren’t as eye-catching as the yellow seen before, the reviews are the 4th thing the user will usually see after the icon, title, and subtitle.
Drive Reviews or Fall Behind
Common across mobile apps, eCommerce sites, and software review platforms, is the initial importance of reviews in even gaining a view on your offering.
The same could be said of ad networks where seller ratings can be featured like AdWords. Just the presence of a) yellow stars and b) the number of reviews encompassed in that star rating, makes an offering more appealing.
Past the instant visual appeal and onto the actual offering’s page, reviews can do a lot of the heavy-lifting as previous users of your product or service detail their experience in their own language.
If you don’t have a system in place to encourage reviews, address negative reviews, and/or integrate reviews with your offerings, you will fall behind your competitors.
3. Let’s Take A Look At the Stats:
If you’re into numbers, the following stats will make you jump and jolt towards creating or optimizing your review-generation program. If you’re not into numbers, take my word for it, reviews matter.
A) Star Rating
Star rating is the number one factor used by consumers to judge a business according to Vendasta.
- 94% of consumers would use a business with a four-star rating
- 57% of consumers would use a business with a three-star rating
B) Consumer Trust
Econsultancy.com studied how the quality of customer reviews and the way in which businesses respond to negative reviews affected consumer trust:
- 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores
- 30% suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see any negative opinions
- 95% of unhappy customers would return if an issue was dealt with quickly and efficiently
C) Compelling Ads
For marketing purposes, Wordstream took a look at how seller ratings (visible business star ratings) on ads affected click-through rates in various studies. They found:
- Ads with Seller Ratings increased a business’s CTR 28%
- Reviews beside a CTA increased a business’s conversion rates 3%
D) Growing Importance
Myles Anderson and his team studied the growing importance of consumer reviews from 2011-14. Spoiler: importance grew year-to-year.
Most importantly for small businesses and SEOs:
- 85% of consumers are satisfied once they have read up to 10 online reviews
- 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
4. New Ideas:
Aside from helping you make more sales, your customers’ reviews help you know what’s good, what’s bad, and what might be improved about your products or services.
Additionally, product reviews can inform marketing campaigns. When reviewers consistently focus on a certain aspect of a product or service, it’s probably either
a) a key selling point and worth marketing
b) something that needs to be improved or marketed more positively.
In either case, your marketing should shift gears to work with your customers to tell a story or develop an idea around your product or service. If your marketing doesn’t synthesize with what customers are saying, that heebie-jeebies meter mentioned above will start to shoot off in visitors’ minds.
It’s good practice to review your reviews on some kind of regular basis to find both valuable quantitative and qualitative analysis of your business and its offerings.
5. Product Reviews Help You Show Up More Online:
When every eCommerce site uses the same manufacturer-supplied descriptions and specifications, user-generated content can be the only thing differentiating your product from the competitions’ in the search results. SaaS and lead generation businesses don’t get off scot-free, though. Your competitors sound a heck of a lot like you.
Hopefully, your reviewers have their own voices and those will be the personable words that stand out to solution researchers.
Reviews make pages more useful to customers, and also increases the chance of ranking highly on the search engine results pages. Those reviews will be chock-full of common questions, concerns, and recommendations that will signal to Google or Bing that your product or service solves or addresses a certain problem.
Visually, the star-rating makes both your ads, in ad-extension form, and your organic results stand out. People love looking at the stars, it’s similar in the search results page if a little less romantic.
Use Reviews to Showcase How Good Your Business is at Dealing With the Inevitable Hiccup
We all #$%! up. If you’re being vigilant about asking for reviews when such a #$%! up occurs, the surprised/confused/angry/sad customer will probably give you a piece of their mind. Read it. Don’t ignore it. Don’t reply immediately either. Think about what you’d like to say. Now think of what you’re going to say as a marketing opportunity.
You’re not just going to address this particular customer’s qualm, but future customers’ fears and anxieties. An angry or negative review is a chance for redemption. And, if addressed well, it can make your brand seem even better and especially more human.
But, if the negative reviews keep piling up and your responses aren’t making much of an impact on your upset customers’ perceptions, you may need to look inward and consider pulling or altering the product or service being sold.
Also, if you’d like some guidelines for writing your negative review response, ReviewTrackers has compiled some of the best and most thorough responses for you.
Good Luck Getting Product Reviews!
If you need any help choosing a review generation platform or using your reviews to make more sales, you can always drop the Vantage team a line.
For more sales-driving insights, be sure to check out our CTA conference recap.