With online sales ringing in at more than $1 trillion worldwide (that’s 12 zeroes), it would seem ecommerce is a simple “find it/buy it” experience of daily life. But consumers still need a little reassurance when it comes to making online purchases. They like to see what others think before they click “buy,” and smart ecommerce sites let them do that by featuring product reviews from other customers.
It’s clear that customer-generated product reviews enhance SEO, foster trust, and drive conversion:
- 77% of consumers read product reviews before making an online purchase (Jupiter Research).
- 63% of customers say they’re more likely to buy from a site that features product reviews (iPerceptions, 2011).
- Shoppers are 12 times more likely to trust a fellow customer’s review than they are a vendor’s review (eMarketer, February 2010).
- A site can increase conversion by a whopping 14 to 76% by including product reviews (Internet Retailer).
- Visitors who read consumer reviews have an average order value that’s 6% higher than those who don’t. (Bazaarvoice, September 2011; The Conversion Index Vol. 1)
Authentic reviews written by customers help drive SEO by giving you unique, fresh content for your site. Plus, they tend to be written the way your customers speak and the way they search. They often using language that includes long tail keywords which, as we mentioned in our blog on product descriptions, are a great boost to SEO and help your customers zero in on products that most closely suit their needs, which in turn helps drive conversion.
So, how do you fill your site with reviews?
First, make it easy for people. Pose three or four questions, tops, and give click-to-rate options (like a number of stars or a scale of 1 to 10) and, importantly, an open response field for their thoughts. Encourage them to say it in their own words. Then make it a simple click or two to submit and post on their social media pages.
Next, ask in a few ways.
Email after purchase. Send an email asking recent buyers to review the product and your service. This is most effective when done within a short window after purchase: Depending on the item, a week or two is usually enough time for the customer to have received and formed an opinion of the item, but not so long that they may have forgotten elements of their experience.
Ask on your site. Add a link to a simple form and inviting people to say a few words about your products. (Word it carefully so you don’t inadvertently solicit opinions of people who’ve never actually bought from you.)
Offer an incentive, something enticing but simple like an entry to a drawing for a prize. Send the offer via email to authentic customers to avoid attracting fake reviews from browsers who just want the incentive prize. Be careful you don’t appear to be “buying” reviews.
Solicit opinion from loyal customers. If you have a new product or one nearing launch, consider sending a freebie to your longtime customers and asking them for a frank review.
Ask customers to rate reviews on your site — again, with a number of stars or a scale of 1 to 10 — to help organize your reviews so future customers can use them more easily. Amazon.com does a great job of this and bumps the three most relevant or helpful reviews to the top of the page. Let shoppers sort reviews by rating or by type of reviewer, which fosters engagement and conversion. Presenting a visual summary of reviews helps influence shoppers and searchers.
Shoppers tend to connect more to “real” reviews, so be sure yours include at least the reviewer’s first name and town, and maybe a headshot and a bit of personal info that may be relevant to the products. For example, it means more if the person posting a review about baby wipes is, in fact, an actual parent — or better still, a daycare provider.
Importantly, don’t filter out all the bad reviews. They have a place alongside good reviews: Nearly 70% of consumers say they trust reviews more when they’re not all good (See our blog on Reputation Management for more info on handling negativity.) And conversion rates are higher on pages that have imperfect reviews than pages that have no reviews at all. And let’s be objective about them: Negative comments give you pointers on what you need to improve in your products and your service.
For more pointers in driving SEO and conversions with customer reviews, contact New Perspective today.