If you’re a small business you’ve probably come across the term ‘omnichannel’ whilst building your business strategy. Even if you haven’t, you’re likely already implementing it.
User reviews and their associated star ratings are key determinants of would-be buyers selecting your product before others and proceeding to purchase - or moving on to a competitor. You need to nurture your feedback score by adhering to the ‘best practice’ laid down by Amazon - and by ensuring your customers have the best buying experience possible when they choose your ‘store’.
But feedback and product reviews won’t appear as if by magic on your site! You need to continually ASK your customers what they think of your products and your service; and do this in a way that will motivate them to review, not ignore your request.
We summarise the ‘when, how, who, what and where’ of doing this below.
But first and most importantly - why should you be asking customers to leave a review?
The main reason is that reviews from other consumers increase conversions, by providing prospective buyers with reassurance from those who have already seen/tried your product and experienced your service, so (hopefully!) dispelling any lingering doubts.
The stats are pretty convincing:
- 63% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision
- 50 or more reviews per product can mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates 
- Google reports that star ratings in AdWords increases click through rate by an average of 17%
Improve the customer experience
By displaying reviews, you are making shoppers aware of other consumers’ perceptions of the item they are considering buying. Research has shown consumers are much more likely to trust the opinions of fellow shoppers over the manufacturer/seller’s description. So you are making the decision-making process easier for your customers – and hopefully turning it in your favour.
All reviews are valuable; a mixture of positive and negative reviews is likely to be trusted more by shoppers than purely positive statements.
User-generated content specialist (UGC) Reevoo found that 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores, while 30% suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see anything negative at all.
Of course, the weighting should still be heavily towards positive reviews!
Reviews increase the amount of new content relating to your products, so increase also your chances of being picked out by the search engines.
As shoppers are increasingly searching on ‘Product name’ plus ‘Review’, reviews can also have a positive impact on your ranking position in the SERPs.
And ‘long tail keyword’ targeting (the industry jargon for the three or four key search words which are very specific to your product) can also be improved by customer reviews, as reviewers tend to use the same terms/phrases that fellow shoppers would use in their searches.
Buy Box benefits
Moreover, good feedback can help you to win ‘Buy Box’ — the Holy Grail for Amazon sellers; but don’t forget that just one negative feedback score could actually take you further away from this goal.
So, lots of potential benefits, but to gain these you need to be ASKING your customers for reviews; and doing it in a way that motivates them to respond!
Here are some pointers to bear in mind
What to ask
- About the product: is it as described, quality, sizing, colour etc.
- About the online/purchase experience: website, pay process, delivery options
- Query handling/returns experience if applicable
- Overall level of satisfaction
- Likelihood to recommend
Who to ask
- Customers with confirmed, on-time delivery.
- Customers who have left positive reviews in the past: while some negative reviews may be a ‘positive’ influence – better to avoid asking shoppers who have a history of always being negative.
- Customers who have returned an item; their comments on the product and experience of the way you handled the return are valuable to potential shoppers.
When to ask
After confirmation of delivery - but don’t leave it too long as your customers are more likely to provide a review in the ’honeymoon period’ immediately after purchase.
How to ask
- Politely! The obvious one – and should go without saying!
- Focus on your customer’s experience rather than your own concern about needing more positive reviews to move you up the Amazon rankings.
- Add value for the customer: a reminder of points of contact in the event of queries; hints and tips on how to use the product; suggestions about related products and spare parts.
- Use a style and tone appropriate to your customers – and in keeping with your brand: a technology purchase will have a different style to someone buying eg: children’s toys.
- Make it easy and quick for reviewers. Direct links to your review pages should appear in multiple places: a follow-up email, the product page, and any relevant third-party review sites.
- Offer an incentive – but beware appearing to ‘buy’ reviews. This is strictly against Amazon’s policy. A small incentive in appreciation of the time taken to write a review (as opposed to writing a good review) eg inclusion in a monthly prize draw, access to a discount code should be acceptable.
- Personally thank the reviewer where possible.
How many times to ask?
While it’s OK to follow up an email request for a review with a nicely worded reminder when that review is not forthcoming, it’s probably best to leave it at that. You don’t want to appear to be harassing your customers or begging them for positive feedback!
Where to ask
- Email following delivery confirmation
- On the relevant product page
- Third-party review sites – if appropriate – such as Yelp, TripAdvisor
- Social networks: ask followers on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter for reviews. Keep it simple - just post a link to the review page next to a question about what they thought of your product, and/or whether they would recommend it to a friend.
What to do about negative reviews
If you receive negative feedback, work with the buyer to resolve the problems experienced. Once resolved, ask if they will consider removing the feedback. Buyers on Amazon have a 60-day window to do this.
At the same time, ramp up your feedback requests so that hopefully the increase in positive feedback will outweigh any negative that remains.
Online reviews: the new ‘word of mouth’ and so much more powerful
Reviews are a powerful form of word of mouth and as such will shape your reputation on a global basis. It is up to you to manage the reviews process so it works to your advantage wherever possible.
As a final note, you don’t have to do it all yourself. There are a number of third party reviews providers out there who will help you to build up a body of product reviews more quickly than you potentially could yourself: Feefo and Reevoo spring to mind.
The key thing to remember is that all reviews should be genuine. Beware the repercussions if you or your review provider tries to fake good reviews - as shown by Amazon’s actions in October 2015: “Amazon sues 1,000 'fake reviewers’, claiming that its brand reputation was being tarnished by ‘false, misleading and inauthentic’ reviews”.
Keep the reviews coming – but keep them real!