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How to Create a Customer Review Strategy That Converts

A customer review strategy that converts.

Customer reviews are a type of user generated content that contribute directly to a consumer’s decision making process. According to Zendesk, 90% of respondents who read online reviews said that positive reviews will influence whether or not they make a purchase. This is because reviews provide social proof, which helps a customer feel confident in a purchase decision. 

And reviews do more than instill confidence. They’re also an opportunity for your customer service support team to connect with your customers. Your customer support team can leave detailed responses to reviews, and address questions that come up. This feedback can even further influence the development of your products.

Getting reviews however, involves more than just adding review functionality to your store. You’ll need to create a plan to incentivize and encourage your customers to write thoughtful and relevant reviews. That strategy should take into account factors that are unique to your business, like the type of products you sell, the length of your customer lifecycle, and more. Read on to learn 5 key considerations for creating your user generated review strategy. 

How to create a user generated content strategy for reviews

User-generated content (UGC) refers to content related to your brand that’s created by a person who isn’t an official representative of your business. Often, UGC is created by your customers. UGC includes content like social media updates, podcast mentions, videos or images, and reviews. This type of social proof is valuable because seeing content from real customers increases your brand’s credibility, and expands your brand’s reach. 

According to a report by Spiegel Research Center, nearly 95 percent of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase. This demonstrates how influential this form of UGC is in making purchase decisions. For most consumers, checking reviews is a part of the purchase path. That’s why it’s critical that there are insightful and authentic reviews for them to read. So how do you encourage your customers to leave valuable reviews? Start with these 5 key considerations.  

For reviewing, timing is everything

When it comes to soliciting reviews, timing is everything. The key is to ask for a review when your customer has had enough time to experience your product, and when they are the happiest. Customers are much more likely to leave a review if they feel that they can share an informed opinion. If you ask for a review before they’ve had enough time to use the product, then they may not feel confident enough to comment.

It’s also important to request a review when your customer is happiest. This is because if they’ve had a positive experience with your store and your product, they’ll feel more inclined to support your business. So, how do you figure out the perfect timing? 

You’ll need to consider the buying journey of your products. First, you’ll want to be certain that the buyer journey is over. When you’re certain that the product has arrived, you then need to ensure your customer has had a decent chance to use it.

The optimal moment to ask for a review will also vary according to product type and vertical. For example, if you’re selling food, you’ll want your review request to go out shortly after an order has been fulfilled. That’s when the experience of the food is fresh in your customer’s mind (pun intended). For a mattress, you’d want to wait a minimum of 8 weeks, since that is generally how long it takes for your body to adjust to a new mattress. 

The reviewing journey and experience

As soon as a customer becomes frustrated with the reviewing process, they may abandon it.  This is why it’s important to create a simple, fast, and frictionless reviewing process. Your customers should be able to submit their review without having to create an account, or navigate through multiple webpages. 

Prompts can also help to reduce friction. By asking specific questions rather than open ended questions, you can inspire your customer’s review while also soliciting feedback that is valuable to your business.

For example, if your customer recently purchased a mattress from your store, the prompt might be “Describe how comfortable your sleep has been since you received your new mattress.” With prompts, you can gather feedback on particular aspects of the product or customer experience.

You also want to ensure the reviewing experience is branded. When filling out a review, customers should recognize familiar colors, fonts, your logo, and brand voice. Branding is important because it contributes to the overall impression that a customer has of your business. Your customers should have a positive reviewing experience that they seamlessly connect with your brand. This will facilitate positive associations, and build customer loyalty.

What are the best ways to gather customer feedback? The two most effective strategies are by email, and SMS.

  • Review by emailReview collection emails can be customized with your company’s branding. 
  • Review by SMS – Text messages (SMS) are a highly effective marketing strategy, with a 90% open rate and a 209% higher response rate than phone and email. And, review invitations sent by SMS are personal and brief.

Quantity of reviews 

One or two reviews with good feedback provides a positive opinion about your business. But dozens of reviews that repeat that same opinion create a consensus. The more reviews you can display, the better, because a large volume of feedback suggests that the product is popular and desirable. This is why it is so critical to encourage reviewing. 

A low volume of reviews, or no reviews at all, can sometimes do a disservice to your brand. None or few reviews make your store appear stale, or unpopular. This will negatively impact customer confidence, especially if your shoppers are seeking out reviews before making a purchase decision.

To avoid this, you’ll want to set a minimum amount for displayed reviews so that they only appear once a healthy amount of feedback has been submitted. Most reviewing platforms will allow for this functionality, or you can have it included in your custom reviewing solution.  

A large quantity of reviews is further valuable because they can be repurposed elsewhere on your website, or in your marketing content. For example, Transformer Table highlights their reviews on their homepage so that social proof is front and centre. When a customer arrives on their website, seeing a carousel of rotating positive reviews inspires confidence right away. 

Quality of reviews

Having a lot of reviews is important, but for those reviews to have a tangible impact they should also provide value. A one-liner review that makes a generic statement can be construed as inauthentic – even if it’s a positive statement. For example, a Transformer Table review that simply states “I really like my new table” won’t inspire value and confidence like the thoughtful review below. 

Quality reviews provide extra and relevant information for your shoppers. They can demonstrate  the value and longevity of a product, and save time for customers that are looking for answers to specific questions. For example, it may be difficult to discern the exact size of a product by the online photo, but customer reviews that address size more accurately can give the insight a customer needs to make a purchase decision. 

To solicit reviews that provide value, you need to customize the way that you ask for reviews. Rather than an open ended question, ask direct questions about the product. Your business can tailor the questions around features or elements like sizing, fit, quality, comfort, and more. A furniture company like Transformer Table might ask about the experience of expanding their extendable table – is it simple and quick?

Thoughtful reviews are key to the decision-making process, helping customers to get a better idea about the product, including material, size, and shape. But they also provide quantifiable data for you. Your business can learn important insights about product experience from review feedback. If you notice a pattern of issues or shortcomings that repetitively is noted in reviews, you can consider the feedback for future product development.

How reviews are displayed 

Reviews should be easy to find, so be sure to place them where customers expect to see them. For multi-product stores, most consumers will expect to see reviews on product detail pages. If your store sells one, or just a few products, you can consider creating a reviews landing page. 

  • Creating a dedicated reviews landing page

Some brands opt to create a dedicated reviews landing page. For example, Transformer Table includes their reviews page in their main navigation bar. When a shopper clicks on reviews, they are brought to a landing page which shows the average star rating and how many reviews Transformer Table has received. Then, a shopper can scroll through the reviews to read.  

When a brand has a large volume of reviews, they can consider adding search functionality to their reviews page. This would allow customers to search specific keywords, helping them to find answers to questions that have about a product. A custom solution can create tailored functionality for this, which will enable your customers to find the answers or info they need within your reviews.

  • Creating a FAQ or “questions” tab

When displaying reviews, consider including an FAQ or questions tab. On an FAQ tab you can display user-generated answers to the most common questions asked about a product. With a questions tab, you can show user-generated feedback that asks a question, with an answer from your store’s team. Below, you can see an example of how Thirdlove incorporates the questions tab into the reviews section of their PDP.


The value of non-perfect reviews

Less than perfect feedback is always tough to receive. Some merchants might view reviews that give less than 5 stars as bad for their business. This isn’t the case. Having a variety and range of reviews makes your store feel more authentic, because customers know that a slate of perfect reviews is nearly impossible. Reviews that are 4 or 4.5 stars can be more valuable than perfect reviews because they are perceived, psychologically, as more authentic. 

Then, there are bad reviews. Bad reviews are often a result of things that are out of your control. And, many consumers are more likely to leave a bad review after a negative experience than a good review after a positive one. Reviewing provides them an opportunity to vent about their experience. 

Try to approach bad reviews as an opportunity for customer retention. When a bad review comes in, personally reach out to that customer to work with them to resolve the issue. Doing so can help your business identify pain points, while regaining the trust of an unhappy consumer. When reaching out, remember to keep your tone positive and non-accusatory. Work with the customer to find a solution, and while you’re at it, you can consider incentivizing loyalty by offering them a discount code or upselling.    

A non-perfect or bad review creates an authentic balance of user generated content, and also contributes to valuable social listening. Less than perfect reviews offer your store an opportunity to gather feedback for future product development and changes. And, they can point to common product questions that are worth incorporating into your PDP or FAQ section. 

How can you add product review functionality to your store?

If you’re looking for a tool that can simplify collecting on-site reviews, consider a few apps that work with Shopify, such as:

An app can quickly add reviewing functionality to your store. But to maximize the impact of product reviews, you’ll want to customize the reviewing experience based on what your business sells, and your customers’ interests. Note that not all platforms will have the open APIs you need to make specific customizations to the front-end. 

Leverage reviews to gain customer trust

On-site reviews are a powerful tool for creating social proof that boosts customer confidence and earns consumer trust. Ultimately, reviews may be the swaying factor in a customer’s journey from discovery to purchase.

In fact, Reevoo found that 50 or more reviews per product can result in a 4.6% increase in conversion rates. To leverage reviews in a way that most benefits your business, ensure you have a strategy in place for actively encouraging your customers to leave thoughtful feedback. 

Does your business need help leveraging reviews to improve conversions? Contact Diff for a consultation:

Special thanks to our friends at Diff Agency for their insights on this topic.
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