There’s a huge amount to think about when you’re running a business. First, you’ll need to take care of the basics. From setting up your website, organizing your products and WMS (warehouse management software) to setting up your online presence.
No business can afford to be without an effective online presence – and the online space is hugely competitive. Whichever sector you’re in, you have to find increasingly inventive ways of standing out from the crowd.
Obviously, you’ll need a responsive and effective social media presence; customers expect to be able to engage directly with their favorite businesses and brands via social networking sites. If your business isn’t active in this space it’ll risk falling behind.
Then there’s search engine optimization – the competition for prime spots in search engine results pages (SERPs) is fierce. Enhancing your business’s visibility via Google is hugely important for driving traffic and revenue. And then there’s the matter of SMS customer support, another crucial way of reaching consumers and tending to their specific needs.
So, already we can see how complicated it is to run a successful business in the modern commercial environment. There’s a great deal that you need to take into account, and there are no shortcuts.
But above all, succeeding in business is a matter of building and retaining customer trust. Without this, your company just won’t survive. Not only is trust vital to ensuring that loyal customers return, but it also provides a vital springboard when attracting new ones. If consumers who’ve never used your business before see that people already have faith in it, that’s more likely to encourage them to use it as well.
But how can you show people that you’ve earned the trust of your customers? There is one simple way – customer reviews. Businesses are placing more and more emphasis on customer reviews, having realized just how important they are to consumers.
Think about it: how often do you purchase goods or services online without checking to see what other customers have made of them? Practically never. And with customer reviews easier to access than ever, it makes perfect sense that consumers do plenty of research before committing to a transaction.
This leaves us with one paramount question: what can businesses do to get more product reviews from their customers? It’s one thing having the best retail loyalty programs, for instance, but unless consumers can see tangible proof that your business is reliable and reputable, they’ll probably take their custom elsewhere. Here we’ll go into more detail about why customer product reviews matter so much, and then we’ll list five top tips to help you get more reviews from your customers.
Why customer reviews matter
The crucial thing to remember at all times is that consumers today are savvier than ever. They know what information they need to make the right purchase, and they know perfectly well how to go about finding it. Part of being in ecommerce is being able to cater to your customers, especially if you are a direct to consumer brand.
Here are just some of the reasons why customer reviews are so important:
- They help drive traffic to your website. We briefly discussed search engine optimization earlier, and how much competition there is for prime places in search engine results. Customer reviews also help to boost your visibility on SERPs. This is because search engine algorithms index them, thus making them visible to users when they search for a particular product. They also get placed right at the top of Google SERPs, thus making them even more visible than standard search results on page one, and helping to draw more visitors to your site.
- They help boost sales. As we’ve noted, when consumers size up ecommerce marketplaces proof that the products and services concerned are of a high standard. For this, they seek reassurance from other consumers by checking customer product reviews. So, put yourself in the customer’s shoes here: you’re looking for a particular product and the reviews, on the whole, are strongly positive. Of course this makes you more likely to go ahead and buy. Thus, good customer reviews can do a great deal to drive sales.
- They give customers the chance to have their say. In the modern commercial environment, consumers expect to be able to pass judgement on the things they buy. Of course, most consumers don’t review every single purchase they make; it’s more likely that they’ll leave a review for purchases that are either particularly good or particularly bad. If you’re running a business, you need to be prepared to encourage customers to have their say. That might be by inviting them on an online video call where they can provide feedback or nudging them towards leaving an online review. This brings us neatly on to our next point.
- They can provide businesses with valuable feedback. As any seasoned entrepreneur knows, customers know what they want, and they know what they’re looking for from the products they buy. Sure, customer reviews are valuable in that they allow you to boost your company’s visibility and demonstrate trust to prospective customers. But it’s important to read what customers actually say in their product reviews, because this can allow you to adjust your offering where necessary. So if a particular product doesn’t live up to customers’ expectations in some way, you can always go back to the drawing board, update it, and see if that works better for them.
- They build confidence in your business and your brand. Customers, as we’ve noted, place a lot of emphasis on what other consumers are saying about particular brands and products. It’s something they often spend a lot of time looking into before they buy. So if your business and its products or services rack up a lot of positive customer reviews, that can only serve to benefit you. It gives new customers reason to believe that they’ll be getting genuine value for money from your business if they choose to buy from it.
How to earn more customer product reviews
So we’ve clarified just why customer reviews are so important, and the potential benefits they can have for businesses selling online. Now we need to discuss how you might go about earning more of them. There are a few different strategies you can adopt to help encourage your customers to leave a review once they’ve purchased products from you. Let’s take a quick look at five of the very best.
1. Offer your customers incentives to write reviews
A surefire way to encourage customers to review your products is to offer them incentives to do so. We all know the value of customer loyalty schemes, so why not put those incentives to other uses? Customers love free stuff – and you’d be surprised at some of the things they’ll do in order to get it. So, with that in mind, why not offer them something that’s going to make leaving a review worth their while? This is a really effective way of earning more reviews and thereby boosting your online profile.
You can offer clients discount vouchers for use at a variety of restaurants or discounts on using your service. This offers users a really effective incentive for contributing a customer review, which should thereby help to drive more revenue. And what’s more, because you’re offering a positive incentive, it’s more likely to make people look positively on your business. As a result, they’ll probably be more inclined to leave a good review.
2. Use post-purchase emails to encourage reviews
Another really effective way of getting customers to write reviews of a particular product or service is to send post-purchase emails encouraging them to do so. You know the drill: whenever you make a purchase from an online retail site, you’ll probably get a post-purchase email confirming all the relevant details. But you can also use post-purchase emails for other purposes as well. Why not send an email subtly suggesting that your customers leave a review?
Obviously, you’ll need to be careful about how many emails you send your customers. Bombarding them is only likely to aggravate them; so if they open your emails at all, they may be more negatively inclined when it comes to writing a review. This is definitely something to keep in mind. But even so, subtle encouragement through post-purchase emails can do the job very effectively. A well-chosen follow up email subject line does a lot to prompt a response. Make sure you send messages in a timely manner after a purchase has been made, however. If you leave it too long, customers are unlikely to respond to the call.
3. Make it easy to submit reviews
A simple point, but one that’s nevertheless worth emphasizing: the easier you make it for customers to submit product reviews, the likelier it’ll be that they’ll do exactly that. What you need to remember is that consumers are busy people. They’ve got a lot of things to do, and not much time in which to do them. So if you want them to spare a few minutes to write a product review, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Customers will be generous with their time, especially if they’ve had a good experience, but it’s up to you to improve your online presence to serve them as much as you can.
Make sure there’s a link to the product review function on every product page, and that it’s prominently displayed so people don’t miss it. Consistent prompts and reminders should help you get more reviews out of your customers. Think about video product reviews, and how you might make it easier for customers to submit them. Again, remember that consumers only have so much time at their disposal, and limited attention spans (they’re constantly being bombarded with demands for their attention). By making your review function as prominent and as obvious as possible, you should be able to earn more contributions.
4. Run a product sampling campaign
You may or may not have noticed, but there are huge online communities of people looking for bargains and product samples. These online forums and social networking groups are real hubs of activity, full of bargain-hunters searching for cool new offers and product launches. Given how engaged these online communities are, it makes total sense to tap into them and try to obtain some customer reviews. These people love it when brands reach out to them. So, if you have – for example – if you are switching things up when it comes to shipping and picking a ship, it helps to give them a little incentive and sample of what this new process would be like.
These communities can be huge, with thousands and thousands of active members. They enjoy nothing more than trying – and giving their verdict on – new products, and then sharing that verdict across any and all channels. This can help to enhance the visibility of your products and potentially create an organic buzz.
5. Make good use of social
We’ve already alluded to the importance of social networks, but it’s worth emphasizing the point in more detail here. Social media provides brands with a platform to reach consumers and also allows consumers to have their say in return. This opens up the possibility for a potentially highly productive two-way dialogue. Of course, it has its downsides as well – it’s all too easy for a brand to contravene social media etiquette and find itself on the receiving end of a major controversy. Nonetheless, no business can afford to ignore omnichannel retailing. This applies to acquiring customer reviews as well; there are millions of people out there, making for a vast base of potential customers.
So, we’ve noted the potential reach that social media can give your business. But how can you make effective use of it, and rack up those all-important customer reviews? One way of boosting engagement and enticing customers to offer more reviews is to share reviews on your social media accounts. Obviously, you’ll need to be discerning about which ones you share – you don’t want to be airing anything negative or potentially sensitive. But sharing positive and constructive reviews (or perhaps quirky and funny ones) is good both for winning more customers and encouraging them to contribute their own reviews once they’ve made a purchase.