How to Use Customer Reviews to Your Advantage

E-commerce sites do better with customer reviews than without. In one study, increasing customer reviews from 0 to 50 increased conversion rates from 2 percent to 4 percent. 

But simply adding the ability to leave reviews is only the first step. To make the most of your reviews, you need to decide how you want your review platform to function in order to offer the most benefit to your business.

Here are three important factors to consider as you choose or develop your customer review strategy.

1. Decide which reviews to display where.

It might seem obvious that maximizing product sales would require you to list the most positive reviews first, or otherwise skew the way the reviews are presented to make the product look better, but this is not necessarily the case.

The research demonstrates that customers need some assurance that the reviews are genuine in order to actually commit to buying the product. This means a stream of perfect 5-star rating ultimately seems too good to be true and may end up hurting sales. This is why Amazon sorts reviews by “most helpful” rather than by star rating.

A surprising study by Reevoo found that the existence of bad reviews caused 68 percent of customers to trust the reviews more, and that 30 percent suspect fraud or censorship when they don’t see any negative reviews. Even more surprising, the study found that shoppers who went out of their way to see the negative reviews were 67 percent more likely to buy the product.

Unfortunately, sorting by “most helpful” isn’t always an option, especially for smaller brands where collecting ratings on reviews isn’t always possible. Sorting by most recent reviews isn’t generally a good idea, since these are rarely the best reviews to display. A manual review selection process is the best alternative, if possible.

When it isn’t, sentiment analysis and grammar check are good alternatives. For example, including a review near the top with the positive sentiment but a relatively low score can alleviate shopper concerns about trustworthiness, while offering a relatively positive take on the product. Grammar check can help surface the most trustworthy reviews based on how well written they are.

2. Weigh the pros and cons of in-depth reviews.

An important consideration is how much depth you want your customer reviews to convey. Do you want customers to simply give a star rating in certain areas (ease of use, functionality, customer support, value and likelihood to recommend), or do you want them to write a certain number of sentences about your product? Neither of these types of reviews is inherently better or worse than the other; it all depends on what you are trying to convey to potential buyers and how you wish to do that.

Remember, the easier it is to leave a review, the more reviews you will receive. More in-depth reviews require more work to leave, and fewer reviews can hurt the chances of additional reviews. Consider these inherent trade-offs when you are developing or choosing your review system.

3. Ask for reviews at the right time.

Most businesses will need to ask their customers to leave a review in order to earn a significant number of them. Customers are unlikely to think of it otherwise, and those who do are usually frustrated with the product or your customer service for one reason or another.

A more representative sample of reviews demands that you automate the process of asking for reviews and incorporate it into the purchasing process. Here are a few different times you can ask for a review:

  • After checkout: If you are selling a digital product that the customer can access instantly, you also have the option of asking them for a review as soon as they buy the product. This may be a little early for most products, but if the usefulness and performance of the product are easily grasped shortly after beginning use, it isn't a bad idea to ask for a review as soon as the product is purchased.

  • After delivery: Including a card with your product that shows your customers where and how to leave a review reminds them to leave a review when the product is still new and exciting to them, before it becomes a part of their daily lives and they forget to think of it. You can also send an email when the product completes the delivery.

  • After a specified use time: Some products take more time to get used to than others, and it doesn’t always make sense to ask for a review as soon as delivery takes place. Even when it does, following up again after the customer has had some time to use the product is still a good idea. The amount of time to wait depends on the product, but you can automate an email to remind customers to leave a review at this specified time.

Allowing customers to leave reviews has proven time and again to boost sales. But making the most of those reviews demands some investment in your customer review strategy. Consider how you want to display your reviews, how much detail you want to extract from them, and when to automatically ask for reviews to get the most benefit out of this strategy.

* This article was originally published here

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