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How & Why To Get More Positive Online Reviews for Your eCommerce Store

Online customer reviews may be one of the most powerful and cost-effective marketing tools an eCommerce business can use to build a positive reputation, brand preference, and a loyal customer base.

Not long ago, businesses relied on word of mouth from friends and family to drive customers to their doorsteps. However, the advent and evolution of the internet opened the doors of opportunity for online entrepreneurs and expanded how consumers learn about and shop for products.

Do you wonder why positive customer reviews are important when technology makes it possible to extend your reach globally? Prospective customers now receive their word-of-mouth recommendations from online product reviews and social media as much as from friends and family.

Why Online Customer Reviews Are Important

Customer reviews, also known as social proof, is critical in today’s market, particularly for those businesses that live in the online space, also known as e-tailers, online stores or eCommerece. While it’s nearly impossible to calculate for sure how many eCommerce businesses exist, estimates put the number as high as 24 million e-tail companies worldwide. E-tailers may come and go daily, but there is little doubt that there will be continued growth in the number of stores operating online.

Even with nearly 8 billion people in the world, eCommerce is a crowded space, with an increasing number of businesses across sectors vying for online shoppers and potential customers. Implementing a marketing strategy that utilizes reviews and User-Generated Content (UGC) is essential for:

  • Building trust
  • Raising online visibility 
  • Garnering social proof
  • Improving SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Increasing click-through rates
  • Generating new customers
  • Increasing the bottom line

E-tailers that understand why customer feedback by way of Merchant Reviews (Google Seller Ratings) and Product Reviews is important can better incorporate it into their website, and their online and offline marketing strategies.

Interestingly, a 2008 study on the impact of online reviews on movie sales found that the specific rating mattered less than the fact that there were reviews. The researchers concluded it is more important for businesses to focus on getting more reviews than to try to influence ratings in their favor. However, a later 2015 study found that the impact of positive and negative reviews had more to do with consumer expertise, with novice buyers more influenced by positive reviews and expert buyers heavily influenced by negative reviews.

Why Online Stores Need To Include Reviews from Happy Customers in Their Marketing Strategies

Shopping online removes or diminishes the sensory experience customers get from visiting a brick-and-mortar establishment, which research shows impacts purchasing behavior. For an eCommerce company, user-generated content — including positive and negative reviews — social media, and word-of-mouth recommendations are the primary means prospects evaluate a product’s worthiness, and to convert new customers.

Why B2B Online Companies Need To Include Reviews in Their Marketing Strategies

Reviews are also crucial for B2B eCommerce businesses. Your target buyers utilize reviews to decide which companies to purchase products from. According to Heinz Marketing’s 2018 Benchmark Report, The Impact of Reviews on B2B Buyers and Sellers, “Product reviews play an important role throughout your entire buyer’s journey with 7 out of 10 buyers referencing reviews in the consideration phase, and half reporting they use reviews in the later stages of the buying process.” 

Why Customer Reviews Are Important, According to Statistics

There is much interest in how reviews and User-Generated Content impact the customer experience and a business’s success. Here are several compelling statistics showing why reviews are important:

  • Eight out of 10 buyers won’t bring in a vendor until they’ve researched the company. (Content Marketing Institute and SmartBrief, 2017)
  • 66% of buyers rely on outside sources to research vendors rather than internal information from the company. (Content Marketing Institute and SmartBrief, 2017)
  • Buyers won’t engage with most brands online because they feel the content the companies post is irrelevant. (Marketo, 2017)
  • Though no one is certain about how much online reviews contribute to search engine rankings, experts believe they could represent 13% or more of the contributing factors. (Chatmeter, 2017)
  • Nearly eight in 10 consumers who read reviews before they purchase an item are satisfied with their purchases. (Broadly)

Reviews are powerful and may be one of the most cost-effective marketing tools eCommerce businesses can use to build positive reputations, brand recognition, and a loyal and growing customer base.

Vendasta’s 50 stats for online reviews provide an additional perspective on the impact reviews have:

50 Stats You Need to Know About Online Reviews - Infographic

 

Why Customer Reviews Are Important for Building Consumer Trust

Regardless of where a customer is in the buying process, they need to feel like they can trust a brand. E-tailers need to garner that trust right from the beginning. Potential first-time buyers are less likely to take a risk on a brand without some evidence that the business is trustworthy. Though companies can develop trust over time with repeat buyers, loyal customers may still use reviews and UGC to make individual purchasing decisions.

How Company Size and Reviews Impacts Consumer Trust

Trust is hard to come by for modern businesses, yet new brands struggle to gain a foothold in the market without it. Fledgling eCommerce retailers must prove themselves before most consumers trust them. Entrepreneurs starting a new company who know why customer reviews are important can leverage this knowledge to build consumer trust and confidence from the start.

Large established companies are not immune to losing trust with consumers. According to the Kearney Consumer Institute, “Overall, 76% of respondents trust small businesses more than large businesses.” Kearney’s research also finds that the percentage of customers with complete trust in either small or large companies is relatively small, at 39% and 21% respectively.

It turns out that consumers feel they can depend on small businesses for customer service and product quality, but they think large companies do better at providing and fulfilling guarantees and warranties. Businesses can utilize their understanding of where trust is lacking and use customer reviews and UGC to bridge the trust gap. 

Why Customer Reviews Are Important for Building Trust With Millennials

It is also essential for eCommerce businesses to understand why reviews are important for different population segments. Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) make up the largest generation, surpassing baby boomers, now the second-largest generation. This group of 72.19 million is a key target for many online stores, and with good reason. Though millennials have struggled to do better financially than generations before, they still spend money. This generation’s purchasing power was $2.5 trillion in 2020.

For millennials, a brand’s actions are important. They prefer small businesses, though according to the Deloitte Global Millennials Survey 2020, 60% say they can get behind a large company that is good to its employees and strives to make a positive social impact, and 40% indicate they favor brands that work to improve the environment. However, the report states, “The once-strongly held belief among past Millennial Survey respondents that business is a force for good continues to wane, with companies’ conduct still regarded unfavorably.”

Moreover, 84% of this generation do not trust traditional advertising. These consumers want to develop relationships with brands they trust but don’t trust brand messaging. Instead, they rely on other consumers opinions, reviews, and recommendations, which is why customer feedback is important for building trust with millennials. They are more likely than any other generation to consult online reviews, with 91% indicating that they look at online reviews before purchasing at least some of the time and 56% stating that they always read reviews before buying.

societal & environmental impact matters to millennials

Why Customer Reviews Are Important for Building Trust With Gen Z

Like millennials, members of Gen Z are more likely to shop online than older generations. The youngest generation, born between 1997 and 2012, is beginning to grow into their buying power. At 68.6 million in 2021, Gen Z comes in third for generation size. However, it’s an important demographic for eCommerce businesses. Gaining these consumers’ trust is crucial to survival in the digital retail space.

Also like Millennials, Gen Z grew up with social media, social proof and reviews. And they expect to see positive feedback from satisfied customers on social media, and on your website, and in your search results. They are tech savvy, and review savvy, and they can spot fake reviews a mile away. So collecting genuine, authentic and transparent reviews from real customers is the only way to go. 

Gen Z’s attitudes about and perspectives on business trust closely resemble those of millennials. These young people are driven by values, including how they make purchase decisions. Like millennials, they prioritize people, the environment, and brand honesty. And they want to see that a brand has lots of happy customers. These qualities can help companies understand why positive product and merchant reviews from happy customers, aven not so happy customers are important for building Gen Z consumer trust. 

According to the Edelman research report, The Power of Gen Z: Trust and the Future Consumer, 70% of the nearly 10,000 surveyed said that they fact-check what they read and hear and expect legitimate data to back up claims. The study also finds that regarding brand trust in Gen Z:

  • 88% trust family, and 84% trust friends more than anyone else.
  • 80% placed priority on a brand’s treatment of employees when making purchasing decisions.
  • Gen Z ranks the value of self as the lowest quality of a trustworthy brand and values attributes centered on the masses higher.
  • 85% indicate that a brand’s trustworthiness is an essential or critical factor in their purchasing decisions.

For Gen Z, brand transparency is essential, and providing authentic and honest customer reviews provides a means for eCommerce businesses to establish transparency in the customer experience.

Why Customer Reviews Are Important for Building Trust With Gen X

Born between 1965 and 1980, the Gen X population ranks fourth in size at 65.8 million, but these consumers’ purchasing power rivals that of the largest generation at $2.4 trillion. Gen Xers are less likely to buy products online, but they are very likely to research before they purchase any product, whether online or in-store. This generation is influenced by the number of positive reviews a product has, with 86% indicating positive reviews influence their purchasing decisions.

Why Customer Reviews Are Important for Building Trust With Baby Boomers

Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are 70.23 million strong. Though no longer the largest generation, these consumers have the highest purchasing power at $2.6 trillion. Baby boomers are less likely to pay more for products out of brand loyalty, and 36% say that they aren’t loyal to any brands (compared to only 22% of Gen Z consumers).

This generation values relationships with companies, though 64% said that the number-one factor that makes them loyal to a brand is the quality of the product or services. These consumers place a high value on positive reviews, with 92% saying those weigh heavily in their purchasing decisions.

Additional Stats on Why Customer Feedback Is Important for Building Trust

Providing shoppers with UGC and customer reviews goes a long way in developing trust among consumers:

  • 84% of people place equal trust in personal recommendations and online reviews. (BrightLocal, 2017)
  • 83% of consumers view user-generated reviews on a business’s landing page as a sign of trustworthiness. (BrightLocal, 2017)
  • 76% of consumers trust UGC more than brand-created content. (AdWeek, 2017) 
  • Millennials trust UGC 50% more than ads or business-generated content. (Crowdtap via VPDM, 2014)
  • Only 34% of B2B buyers consider the content companies create to be trusted information. (Demand Gen Report, 2017)

WebRepublic reports the following statistics about the influence of reviews on consumer buying behavior:

how online reviews impact the customer

 

Gaining consumer trust is a significant hurdle for eCommerce businesses. When distrust is high among the two generations that will be increasingly important going forward, companies must implement strategies incorporating reviews and user-generated content. Indeed, all ages value and use reviews when deciding which products to buy from which brands, making it essential for businesses and marketers to understand why customer feedback is important to a company’s marketing plan.

Why Reviews Are Important for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

With so many eCommerce businesses operating globally, organic discoverability, known as search engine optimization or SEO is a challenge. Customers need to find a company before they can buy from it. Search engine algorithms are programmed to give searchers what they want and constantly measure keywords against click-through rates, bounce rates, and engagement time for pages that show up in the results. 

Most people who search on the internet don’t venture past the first page of the search results. More consumers research products on Google than any other search engine (with YouTube coming in second place). Research finds that Click-Through Rates (CTR) decreases significantly between the number-one spot in the search results and the 10th spot, with 28.5% clicking on the first result and only 2.5% clicking on the 10th.

Google CTR ranking graph

Businesses invest heavily in search engine optimization strategies, but few realize why customer reviews is important to both SEO and CTR.

Reviews Increase SEO and CTR

Google began using featured snippets in 2014. These appear at the top of the search results, capable of providing an image and a brief description of the content. They are intended to help people find what they are looking for faster. When a business includes the average rating and teh total number of reviews for a product in its featured snippet or it’s rich snippet, it can increase the likelihood that the product shows up in the featured or rich snippets and potentially increase the CTR.

Another benefit of user reviews for increasing visibility is in increasing keyword strength. Often customers who leave reviews use the same types of words in their reviews as people use when searching for products. 

Reviews Can Improve Search Engine Ranking

Improving rankings in the search results is another reason why customer feedback is important for eCommerce businesses. Often people use search terms for a product that includes the word “reviews.” When businesses include product reviews on their websites and product pages, they will show up higher in search results for products and reviews than the companies that don’t.

In addition, search engine algorithms like new content. Short of consistently updating product descriptions, the best way for an online retailer to ensure fresh content is to use reviews. Each time a new review is posted, the search engine spiders view it as updated content. Other types of UGC also work well for this.

Reviews on Social Media Improve SEO

Social media engagement is an essential component of a company’s marketing strategy. When 34% of American consumers follow their favorite brands on social media, it isn’t difficult to see why customer feedback is important for a business’s image on its platforms. However, the benefits extend to SEO improvement. Social media content, brand mentions, hashtags, likes, shares and reviews are known as “social signals” and they are indexed by the search engines, and can display in search engine results. Customer reviews on social media platforms can also increase engagement, improving search engine rankings.

Reviews Reduce Bounce Rates

The faster a shopper clicks away from a website, the worse it is for the business’s search engine rankings. Placing reviews on a website encourages visitors to remain on the page longer as they spend time reading through reviews to learn more about the company's products and services.

Review Formatting for SEO

For businesses to take advantage of the potential SEO improvements, there are a few critical formatting considerations to keep in mind:

  • Use HTML: Search engines don’t like any other format. Reviews and other UGC need to be in text form within the HTML.
  • Distribution: By highlighting user reviews across the eCommerce site, businesses improve the likelihood that the content on any page will rank higher in search results.
  • Nonduplication: While review highlights should appear throughout a site, complete reviews should only exist in one place, with one URL. The exception is when your review platform displays your company reviews on their site.  This allows you to essentially double your visibility online.

Following these formatting guidelines improves product visibility in the search results.

 

how online reviews influence online marketing

Source: WebRepublic

Why Customer Feedback Is Important for Social Proof

Social proof is validation, and consumers often rely on this validation from their friends and family when making purchasing decisions. They also want to know that others with similar needs, wants, tastes, and values trust a product before buying it.

While customers use reviews to find out if they can trust a product, they also use them to validate their own opinions and validate their interests. Social proof often gives a hesitant customer the extra push needed to go from consideration to conversion.

Customers expect businesses to shine a positive light on their products. They know companies strive to make their goods sound like precisely what a potential buyer needs. No matter how accurate and honest a description is, it won’t have the same credibility to a shopper as reviews do. Reviews and other UGC demonstrate the value other customers get from a product or service. The more others lend credibility to a product, the more likely other consumers are to purchase it.

Why Reviews Are Important for E-tail Growth

Companies implement marketing measures to attract new customers and maintain existing ones. The success of a business’s marketing strength is often measured in traffic, conversions, and return on investment. Incorporating a strategy for reviews is an approach that increases traffic and conversions and gives companies a higher return on investment.

Conversions

In showing why customer feedback is important for your business’s growth, one of the most significant results is increased conversions. Researchers at Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center found that customers rely heavily on reviews to move them from consideration to purchase, stating, “As products begin displaying reviews, conversion rates escalate rapidly. The purchase likelihood of a product displaying five reviews is 270% greater than that of a product with no reviews.”

Further, the research indicates that the impact of reviews on conversion rates for higher-priced products is stronger than for lower-priced products. Lower-priced products had a conversion rate increase of 190% when the business displayed reviews. For higher-priced products, the rate jumped to 380%.

Conversions are also more likely when the reviews are not all 5-star reviews. The Spiegel Research Center study discovered that the impact of reviews on conversions peaks when the review average is in the 4.0 to 4.7 range. Higher than 4.7, conversion rates begin to drop. As trust is one of the reasons why customer feedback is important, consumers are more likely to distrust the quality of reviews when they make a product appear too good to be true.

Return on Investment

Utilizing reviews as a component of a brand’s marketing strategy provides a high ROI. A 3rd party review platform is a cost-effective means of implementing this strategy. The combination of higher conversion rates and lower marketing costs for using reviews produces a higher return on investment. The cost of a review strategy can increase when businesses utilize methods like incentives to get customers to leave reviews.

Customer Satisfaction

Not only do reviews increase conversion rates, but they also improve customer satisfaction, demonstrating yet another reason why customer feedback is important for eCommerce businesses. When consumers base their buying decisions on the information they receive from reviews and other UGC, they are more satisfied with their purchases and less likely to return them.

One study found that product reviews correlate with a lower return rate. The same does not hold for other marketing approaches. The researchers found that promotions were more likely to result in returns. Furthermore, when consumers receive promotional emails or catalogs within the two weeks before making a purchase, the likelihood of returning the product is higher than when purchases are made without a promotion.

Business Improvements

Customers aren’t the only ones who can garner helpful information from customer reviews. As companies examine why customer feedback is important, they should look at how they can use reviews to improve their business. Reviewers leave comments on multiple aspects of business performance. They often go beyond providing information on a product’s quality to discuss their overall buying experience.

Companies can analyze their reviews to discover what they are doing right and where they need to improve. They can make their products better, and they can improve other areas of business performance. For example, if a significant percentage of customer reviews indicate frustration over customer service wait times, a company can take steps to shorten the wait time.

Why Negative Reviews Can Work in Your Favor

In a New York University study on how users respond to overall ratings and the number of reviews, researchers found that “when consumers choose between options that are the best on only one of the review attributes (ratings or volume), consumer preference shifts from the higher-rated option with fewer reviews towards the lower-rated option with more reviews.” Negative reviews have value and can work in your favor.

Though no one likes to see a less-than-stellar response to a product or service or that another’s customer’s opinion of the buying experience or the business was not favorable, negative reviews are part of why customer feedback is important.

How-rating-stars-influence-online-ecommerce

Source: WebRepublic

Even so, the idea of getting negative reviews makes many business owners cringe. If this sounds like you, take heart. Getting negative reviews is inevitable. You can’t please everyone. While having more negative reviews than positive has a correspondingly negative impact on customers’ likelihood of buying and SEO, getting some negative reviews is a good thing. Here are a few statistics that bear this out:

  • Nearly three-quarters of B2B buyers indicate that they look to negative reviews to gain a deeper understanding about a product. (G2 Crowd and Heinz Marketing, 2017)
  • 40% of B2B buyers think negative reviews strengthen product credibility. (G2 Crowd and Heinz Marketing, 2017)
  • 82% of consumers pay attention to negative reviews, seeking them out during the decision-making process. (Power Reviews, 2017)
  • 92% of shoppers are reluctant to purchase an item that has no online reviews. (Fan and Fuel, 2016)
  • 95% of consumers are inclined to believe reviews are fake when a product has no negative reviews. (Revoo, 2013)
  • Peak purchasing probability occurs when a product has a 4.0- to 4.7-star rating, declining as ratings approach 5 stars. (Spiegel Research Center, 2017)
  • 68% of consumers trust products more when they see negative reviews mixed in with positive ones. (Broadly)

A couple of negative reviews aren’t going to damage your business’s reputation and can boost your SEO. Some of the reasons why customer feedback is important even depend on getting a few negative responses.

Increase Credibility With Consumers

Consumers don’t expect everyone to have only good things to say about a product or business. They are actually quite skeptical when they see only positive reviews. The more reactions there are to a product or service, the more suspicious shoppers become of only good reviews. Researchers find that consumers lend more credibility to negative reviews than to positive ones.

In another study, researchers found that “a moderately positive review can be more persuasive than an extremely positive review.” It turns out that you can have too much of a good thing when it comes to consumer reviews. While you may feel that anything less than five stars is detrimental, your potential buyers don’t think that way.

Credibility also increases with the variety of information consumers find in the reviews. The same study found that people look for reviews that don’t say the same thing as almost every other review on the page. They believe unique reviews contain more accurate information and are more credible.

Improve Search Engine Rankings (SEO)

One of the reasons why customer feedback is important is that it increases your ranking on search engine results pages. It does so even when some of those reviews are negative. After all, more reviews are more reviews. They continue to add fresh content to your website, a positive factor for the algorithms.

If you search for a product on Google, you see returns that contain stars in the snippets. Next to the stars is the number of reviews the product has. Not only does the search engine recognize the number of reviews when it analyzes possible results, but consumers often take note of this information as well. A significant number of reviews may increase the likelihood of a potential buyer clicking on the link to your shop.

Another way even negative reviews help SEO is that when people read reviews, they spend more time on your page. Though very few shoppers ever read all the reviews or even more than a few, the more they read, the more time they spend on your site. Engagement is an essential factor in search engine ranking.

Improve Customer Relationships

You may wonder why customer testimonials are important for building customer relationships, especially if that feedback is negative. If you ignore the negative reviews, you may risk harming relationships with your customers. However, when you take action to repair or fix the sitaution, it can help you create new and stronger relationships by making happy customers.

Utilizing negative reviews to inform business decisions demonstrates to your customers that you value their opinions and take feedback seriously. Consumers put more trust in businesses that take steps to remedy a bad situation or unsatisfactory experience. If you post responses to negative feedback, prospective customers also see how you treat customers when they are dissatisfied.

Your reputation is at stake when customers post online reviews. However, in responding to negative feedback, you have the opportunity to improve your reputation. How you respond is important. You should demonstrate that you recognize a concern and know how to handle it appropriately and effectively. 

Improve Customer Experience

When 72% of shoppers say they trust online reviews and 88% use them to help them decide whether to purchase a product, the reason why customer feedback is important is apparent. What might be less clear is how negative feedback factors into the value of reviews and UGC. Your response to a negative review can improve the overall customer experience for the buyer who left the review.

Have you ever noticed how many customer-edited reviews discuss how satisfied or dissatisfied the buyer was with how the company handled whatever situation led to the negative review? When a customer gives you a negative review, you are getting the chance to convert a disappointing customer experience into an overall positive one.

Similarly, other consumers who read the negative review, and your response know what to expect from your business if they have a disappointing buying experience. According to BazaarVoice’s Conversation Index, “A poor customer experience, left unaddressed, not only threatens the reviewer’s repeat business, but can push other shoppers who read the review away from the brand.”

On the other hand, negative reviews may help customers better understand what you have to offer or what a particular product does or does not do. This increased understanding reduces the likelihood that customers who aren’t a good fit for your product will buy it, which also decreases the number of returns.

Why Replying to Customer Reviews Is Important

Another reason why customer feedback is important is that it allows you to increase engagement by replying to reviews. Responding to reviews also helps you manage your reputation. Maintaining your brand’s reputation includes ensuring potential and current customers have the correct information about your eCommerce business and products across all touch points.

Customer reviews are one of these touchpoints, and not just for the reviewer. While shoppers don’t read every review, they are likely to read at least a few. Research on customer review responses provide insight into why customer reviews are important to respond to:

  • Not responding to reviews increases the risk that customers stop using a brand’s product by 15%. (Chatmeter, 2017)
  • 89% of shoppers read review responses during product research. (BrightLocal, 2018)
  • 70% of shoppers indicate that a brand’s review response can change their opinion of the company. (BazaarVoice via Marketing Charts, 2013)
  • 40% of consumers say that brand responses to negative reviews increase the likelihood they will buy from the company. (ReviewTrackers, 2018)

Furthermore, customers may be more interested in reading reviews that have a reply, as those responses give them insight into your brand’s attention to customer service and indicate how much you value your customers and their experiences.

Which Reviews You Should Respond To

One of your first questions may be, “How many reviews do I need to respond to?” If one of the reasons why customer feedback is important is that it provides an opportunity to increase engagement, do you need to respond to all reviews? No, you don’t. In the beginning, providing a reply for every review may be helpful, but as your review numbers increase, you won’t need to answer every review to see the benefits.

Those who read reviews will likely understand that replying to hundreds or thousands of reviews is prohibitive for a business. However, they may take special note of the ones you respond to, so it pays to have a strategy for responding.

Responding to negative reviews is vital for managing your brand’s online reputation, so you want to prioritize replies to those. Make sure you have policies in place for how to address the most likely concerns customers have, such as offering refunds, upgrades, and replacements.

While replying to negative reviews is crucial, you don’t want to completely ignore the positive or moderately positive ones. You may wish to respond to a few 3- to 5-star reviews that provide more detailed information, making it easier to offer personal and individualized responses and highlighting this info for other consumers.

How the Way You Respond Matters

When considering why customer feedback is important, it is essential to take into account the quality of your responses. Consumers pay attention to how you respond to reviews. Canned responses are, understandably, not seen in a favorable light. They indicate that the business does not care enough about its customers’ experiences to provide individualized and personal comments. Though expedient for you, replying with the same response to all similar reviews may lower consumers’ opinions of your business.

However, it boosts your reputation when you take the time to address reviews in a manner that indicates you are paying attention and are invested in providing a positive customer experience. According to BazaarVoice, 41% of consumers indicate that when a company responds to reviews, they believe the brand cares about its customers.

Additionally, offering boilerplate responses to negative feedback damages your brand’s reputation. Consumers expect businesses to address their concerns in the response. If you instead simply provide them with information on how they can reach customer service for assistance, not only will your reputation with the reviewer suffer, but prospective customer intent to purchase will decline.

Understanding why customer feedback is important can help you retain more customers. Considered and effective review responses can increase trust in your brand and help convert prospects into buyers and loyal customers. When you provide a satisfactory answer to a negative review, you are more likely to retain that customer instead of driving them away after a frustrating experience (both with their purchase and your response).

Why Response Timing Is Important

How long it takes you to respond leaves an impression on your customers. Though you can’t necessarily reply to all reviews, customers pay attention to how long it takes when you do respond. Your response time leaves an impression:

  • 53% of reviewers expect a company response to their reviews within a week. (ReviewTrackers, 2018)
  • In a 2016 study, 16% of participants indicated that they expected a negative review response within three hours. (Get Five Stars, 2016)
  • 63% of consumers indicate that they’ve had at least one company never respond to a review they’ve posted. (ReviewTrackers, 2018)
  • The top 10% of brands in every industry are better at consistently and quickly responding to reviews. (ReviewTrackers, 2018)

Your company’s response rate and speed influence consumers’ perspectives on why customer feedback is important, adding nuance to their opinions of your brand.

How Review Responses Impact Revenue

Responding to reviews can have a positive impact on revenue. If your replies are helpful and genuine, consumers are more likely to trust your brand. More consumers will likely have a favorable opinion of your company’s customer service and product quality.

  • Businesses with a 25% review response rate bring in 35% more in revenue on average. (Womply, 2019)
  • Shoppers spend up to 49% more when purchasing from brands that respond to online reviews. (Womply, 2019)
  • Offering refunds, exchanges, or upgrades in a negative review response increases the likelihood of purchasing by 92% for consumers who read the replies. (BazaarVoice)

Often, negative reviews arise from a customer’s misuse of a product. When you respond to these types of reviews, it can increase your revenue. According to BazaarVoice, providing guiding explanations to correct errors in use leads to a 186% increase in intent to buy.

How To Get More Online Reviews

Though the reasons why customer feedback is important may now be clear, getting reviews can seem like an overwhelming prospect. Only about 5-10% of all consumers leave product reviews, but those reviewers significantly impact the eCommerce market, influencing approximately $400 billion in total revenue for eCommerce businesses.

Fortunately, you don’t need to leave it entirely up to chance and customer initiative. You can take several measures to increase the likelihood that customers will take the time to leave an online review.

Ask for It

One of the most effective ways to get a review is to simply ask customers for one. Many consumers are unaware of how critical reviews are to your eCommerce business and don’t think to leave a review. Even your most loyal customers are unlikely to leave a review without prompting. The good news is that asking for a review significantly improves the chances that a customer will leave one.

Be thoughtful in how you frame your request. You don’t want to sound abrupt or demanding. Often, the most effective request is straightforward yet polite. Use a message that matches your brand’s voice. You may also want to explain to your buyers why customer feedback is important. Tell them that an honest review increases customer trust and helps other consumers learn more about your business and products from those with experience using them.

Time Your Request for Reviews

You want to make your review request when customers are most likely to respond. Asking for a request at the right time increases the chance that the customer will leave a review and may improve the odds of a positive review. Three good times for sending out review requests are:

  • After product delivery: You can send a follow-up email after customers receive their products. You may want to send one message shortly after delivery and another one after customers have had time to use their new products.
  • After a customer service exchange: Another good time to ask for a review is after customers reach out to customer service. One of the business traits consumers look for when reading reviews is high-quality customer service. Asking consumers to leave a review about their customer service experience gives prospective customers more insight into what they can expect if they need to call on customer service from your company.
  • After tagging or commenting on social media: When customers tag your business or comment on a social media post, you may want to send them a message explaining why customer feedback is important and asking if they wouldn’t mind leaving a review. Those who take the time to post on social media may be more inclined to also leave a review.

Timing your review requests right can help you get more reviews for your business.

Use the Customer Journey to Your Advantage

You have several opportunities to make a request for a review. However, asking at an inopportune time can lead to a less favorable review, even if the customer is ultimately happy with their purchase. Depending on what product you sell, your customers may move through several emotional phases after making their purchases.

Customers may feel elated after finding a product that solves a problem, but they also may feel a sense of panic after paying for a high-ticket item. There may be a learning curve that could cause customers to feel frustrated with a product while they figure out how to use it. Additionally, with some sales — especially those in the health and wellness sectors — it can take time for a product to work.

Asking for a review too soon can lead to an inaccurate portrayal of your product or a review that reflects a disappointed customer’s opinion. When you consider why customer feedback is important, it’s easy to see how the timing of your request matters in the overall impact of customer reviews.

Consider how your customers will likely experience the purchase and use that information to determine when to ask for a review. Other strategic opportunities to request a review include after a customer re-orders a product, after current customers browse for an extended time on your website, and if they refer someone else to your products or services.

Ease Into the Request

If you are a new eCommerce business owner, you may not know how to get online reviews for your small business and may be worried about how you come across when asking for one. It can help you and the customer if you ease into it. Begin with a conversation that provides customers with an opportunity to engage with your brand on a more personal level. Send an email asking an open-ended question to stimulate engagement and direct response.

You can ask your customers what they think of your product so far or what they feel about their customer service experience. Not only does this help you obtain valuable information, but it also allows you to address any negative experiences before they turn into negative reviews. Though you now know why customer feedback is important, including negative reviews, it can improve customer perception if you take a proactive approach rather than just reacting to negative reviews.

Customers receptive to giving direct feedback to open-ended questions are also likely to agree to leave reviews. Plus, engaging your customers in a dialogue about their experiences can go a long way in building trust and relationships. When you engage your customers in conversations, keep in mind how demographics factor into customer preferences and experiences.

Make It Fast and Easy to Leave a Review

Your customers are more likely to leave a review when they know why customer feedback is important. However, the more steps they need to take to get to the review platform and the more complicated or unfamiliar the process or platform is, the less likely they are to follow through, even if they begin with the intention to leave a review.

Use a Familiar System

Though some businesses use a 1-10 rating system and ask customers to place a numeric value on their experience with a product or service, modern consumers most readily identify with rating systems based on 1-5 stars. The five-star system is almost ubiquitous for ratings now.

You can use this system to request seller ratings based on different categories, such as customer service, the shopping experience, and price, or ask for one overall rating. Customers also expect an option to comment, which is what sets ratings apart from reviews. Most platforms allow customers to choose between leaving a rating and leaving a rating plus review.

In the discussion of why customer feedback is important, it was clear that ratings and written reviews factor into consumers’ buying decisions. Offering people the option to only leave a rating may increase how many ratings you have. Given that most customers won’t read more than a few reviews, but they still take note of how many overall ratings and the average of those ratings a product receives, ratings without written reviews can still provide value to other shoppers using reviews to make purchasing decisions.

Meet Them Where They Are

Another aspect of making the review process easy for customers is to meet them where they’re at. Customers should be able to readily access the review page for whatever 3rd party review site they use. As such, you need to provide a link when submitting requests for a review.

Consumers spend a significant amount of time on their mobile devices, so whatever means you use to reach your customers to request a review and to send them to the review site needs to be optimized for mobile. If the requests and review pages aren’t mobile-friendly, customers are more likely to abandon the process.

Provide a Review Outline

Often, people are intimidated by the prospect of leaving a review if they don’t already have experience with writing them. They may not realize why customer feedback is important and thus have never left any before. When faced with the prospect of leaving a review, they may feel like they have no idea what to say.

While you don’t want to leave them with a template that only requires them to fill in the blanks (other consumers will pick up on such canned reviews and won’t view them as authentic), you can give them a basic outline that still requires them to frame the review in their own words. Even if they aren’t inclined to follow the exact outline, seeing one can give customers confidence and spark ideas about what to write.

How To Get Online Reviews for Your Small Business: Automate the Process

If you want to know how to get more online reviews without spending a lot of your and your staff’s valuable time, automation is the answer. Automating your review strategy ensures you remain consistent and continually collect fresh reviews. One component of why customer feedback is important has to do with review recency. According to eCommerce Fastlane data:

  • 64% of consumers are more likely to purchase products with fewer but recent reviews than products that have more reviews but no recent ones. For baby boomers, the percentage jumps to 69%.
  • 38% of consumers won’t buy a product if the most recent reviews are more than three months old. 40% of millennials and 44% of Gen Zers won’t purchase these products.
  • 66% of Gen Zers and millennials won’t purchase products when the most recent reviews are more than a year old. Among the general population, the rate is 62%.
  • 97% of consumers place at least some value on recent reviews when making purchasing decisions.

Automation takes timing and much of the effort of asking for reviews out of your hands and increases review process efficiency.

Collect Contact Info

Before you can automate the review process, you need to gather customer information. Get emails and phone numbers at the time of purchase and ask for permission to send email and text messages. This is standard procedure already for many eCommerce businesses, as it’s a necessary step to implementing email and SMS marketing campaigns.

Create an Automated Messaging Campaign

You can create an automated messaging campaign that informs customers about why customer feedback is important and asks them to submit a review. You can also insert reminders and review links in thank-you and confirmation messages.

Sending digital receipts will strike a positive note with environmentally conscious millennials and Gen Zers. It also provides you with another way to automate the review process. Your digital receipts can include review requests and links. Digital receipts have an 80% open rate and a 15% CTR for internal links.

Use a 3rd Party Review Platform

Using a 3rd party review platform provides an efficient and effective way to automate the review process and offers multiple additional tools for managing all aspects of brand reputation and user-generated content. Research finds that “From a consumer’s perspective, review platforms increase market transparency and make purchasing less risky. Firstly, understanding the consumer’s wants and impacts of reviews makes platforms adapt to them and offer an even better use of reviews.” Review platforms improve customer experience and simplify the automation process for you, making getting more online reviews easier.

Explore the Stats

The statistics for why customer feedback is important reveal that having reviews benefits companies and consumers. Likewise, the stats for when and whether consumers leave reviews support their value:

  • 68% of consumers have responded positively to a review request from a brand. (BrightLocal, 2017)
  • Up to 80% of reviews occur after brands send emails requesting a review after customers receive their products. (PowerReviews, 2017)
  • Average ratings tend to improve when companies send follow-up emails requesting a review with a direct link to the review site. (Spiegel Research Center, 2017)
  • 80% of shoppers between the ages of 18 and 34, versus 41% of those over age 55, have written online reviews. (BrightLocal, 2018)
  • 70% of customers are willing to leave a review when a company requests one. (Broadly) 

As an ecommerce business, it is worth the investment to pursue gathering as many honest online reviews as possible.

How To Leverage Online Reviews

You now know why customer feedback is important for your business and customers, but once you start receiving it, how do you leverage it? First, you want to ensure shoppers have easy access to customer reviews. Second, you need to ensure the reviews they see are valid.

Review Placement

Identify where your customers spend time and ensure you display reviews at each location.

Review Sites and Platforms

No matter what industry you are in, you benefit from having your reviews show up across the Google platform, including in:

  • Seller ratings
  • Organic search results
  • Google Ads 
  • Google Shopping
  • Shopping product pages
  • Shopping search results

You may want to consider other review sites, but which ones you could benefit from depend on the type of eCommerce business you operate.

eCommerce Website

There are two places on your website where you can display product reviews. The first is on your product pages. When customers search your site for specific products, providing reviews for each product on the product page along with the description and other valuable information makes it easy to see the most relevant reviews. Product pages with reviews are 3.5 times more likely to result in conversions than those without, lending support to why customer feedback is important.

The second location is a dedicated review page. This is a page on your site that houses reviews for all your products. Customers who want a more general idea about what other consumers think of your business and products will likely gravitate towards these review pages.

Social Media

According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 70% of U.S. adults use social media. YouTube is the most popular platform, followed by Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Among younger users, TikTok is the most popular. Globally, 4.49 billion people spend time on social media platforms.

Social media is a crucial tool for eCommerce business. You can post consumer-generated content, including reviews, on your business’s account. Additionally, you can incorporate reviews into your social media ads. Posting reviews on your social media accounts has the added benefit of initiating additional consumer engagement. You may also find that it sparks further reviews from other customers.

Review Organization

To make life easier for consumers searching for specific types of reviews, take the time to organize them. Provide a way for customers to filter reviews based on what they want to see. The most common is to allow filtering by star rating for both merchant and product reviews. You can include other options that customers might find useful, such as allowing for searches for common keywords.

Another organizational tool is to provide a button that lets consumers indicate whether a review is helpful. Consumers may be more likely to read reviews voted most helpful. You can also include helpfulness as a filter.

Review Moderation

It’s essential to spend time reading customer reviews. You now know why customer feedback is important and why responding to reviews is a good idea. However, there is another reason to read your reviews: You need to moderate them to ensure they meet your company’s requirements for posting.

Moderation does not mean erasing negative reviews. That is one way to lower your standing with review platforms and customers. However, you should identify inappropriate content and troll postings. Such reviews don’t add any value and can harm your reputation. When you find them on your website, you can eliminate them. Most review platforms will also remove these types of reviews when you submit a request and justify the reason for removal.

See Firsthand Why Merchant and Product Reviews Are Important for Your Success

At Shopper Approved, we understand why customer feedback is important. Our review platform makes it easy for you to get more reviews and leverage them to improve the consumer experience, SEO, increase traffic, and boost conversion rates and sales.

We are an official Google review partner and have been for eight years which means that our client’s customer reviews are added automatically to Google’s review network.

Start your 45-day free trial today; no credit card is needed.

 

Other posts by DJ Sprague

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Duane “DJ” Sprague is CMO of Shopper Approved, and has been in the marketing, advertising and public relations fields for over 30 years, and has served on both the client and the agency side. He holds a Master’s Degree in Integrated Marketing Communication, has contributed to several books and university course packs, and has received the 1st Place Gold Award in a global integrated marketing competition.

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