The Importance of Customer Reviews for Your Online Store

One of the best ways to increase customer trust, increase conversion rates and generate more sales is to get existing customers to leave reviews for your business and/or products.

And to help you get started, we have created a full in-depth guide that covers everything from how to get reviews to managing both good and bad reviews that you may get, so let’s get started! 

Types of Reviews

For online stores, there are two main types of reviews you can ask your customers to leave and they are:

  1. Business Reviews – these are reviews people leave about your business as a whole and are usually posted on third-party sites such as Google, Facebook or review sites like Trustpilot
  2. Product Reviews – these are reviews that are left just about your products and are posted directly on your site and will result in the product getting a star rating, usually out of 5

And it is up to you which type of review that you focus your efforts on but in terms of increasing conversion rates and getting more sales, product reviews can be the most beneficial, which is why big-name retailers like Amazon focus more on these than general reviews. 

Why Are Customer Reviews Important in Ecommerce?

Before we get into how to start getting and managing reviews for your online store, we thought we would cover the reasons why getting reviews are so important and there may be more reasons than you think.

1. Reviews Increase Customer Trust

Reviews are a form of social proof and when potential customers can see that existing customers have not only bought from the store but have also been happy with the product or service they have received, then it makes the store more trustworthy in the eyes of the potential customer, so much so that 98% of customers see reviews as an essential resource when making a purchase online.

2. Reviews Can Increase Conversion Rates

A secondary benefit of building customer trust is that it can lead to higher conversion rates and a recent survey found that having displayed reviews lead to a 76.7% increase in conversion rates compared to pages that had no reviews displayed.

3. SEO Benefits

Customer reviews can have a huge benefit on your store’s SEO as reviews show search engines such as Google that your business and products are trustworthy, which feeds into Google’s EAT criteria that they use for ranking sites.

And the higher the number of positive reviews a product gets, the more likely search engines are to place that product towards the top of search results (making sure you have SEO’d the product page also helps) and it may be the differentiating factor between you and your competition if all other things are pretty much equal. 

4. Social Media Marketing

Getting customer reviews makes it a lot easier to promote your business and products on social media as you can include these reviews as part of your marketing campaign and adding this social proof can improve the effectiveness of the campaigns as the people you are targeting may be more inclined to visit your site and potentially place an order. 

5. They Provide Valuable Feedback

Getting feedback on your products and business in general is a valuable resource for ecommerce businesses as you can see what is working, what isn’t and what people like and don’t like and you can use this information to make improvements, especially if you see the same issue being mentioned. 

These can be improvements to your business policies and operations, your packing and chosen shipping method or your products and/or services and good businesses are always looking for ways they can improve. 

How to Start Getting Customer Reviews

So you know that customer reviews are important and can be very helpful to your business but how do you actually start getting reviews?

Enable Reviews

The very first step to start getting reviews is to make it possible for people to actually start leaving them and it does depend on the type of reviews that you are targeting as to how you go about this.

Business Reviews

For business reviews, you need to set up the accounts/pages where you want people to leave reviews, so this could be:

  • Google Business Profile – you should have one of these anyway as they are useful for SEO but make sure that it is set up and linked to your website
  • Facebook Page – there is an option with your businesses Facebook pages settings where you can let people leave reviews
  • Review Websites – there are many third-party review websites such as Trustpilot and Reviews.io where you create a profile and people can leave reviews

Once you have got your profile/page set up you will then be able to create a link that you can send to customers which takes them to the correct page so that they can leave a review for your business. 

Product Reviews

Product reviews will be left directly on your ecommerce store and it depends on the platform you are using as to how you set this up, with some platforms it is a built-in feature that may already be active or requires activating on your site but for others platforms, this functionality isn’t included as standard and requires an additional extension such as a Product Review App for Shopify or a Product Review Plugin for WooCommerce. 

Whichever way it needs to be done, you want to get it all set up and creating a test product will allow you to make sure that everything is working before asking customers to start leaving reviews. 

Make it Easy for Customers to Leave Reviews

Once you have got it set up so that customers can leave reviews, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to actually do so and this can be done by:

  • Having a button in their account that allows them to quickly leave a review
  • Send follow-up emails politely asking customers to leave a review, with an easily accessible link
  • Make the submit a review page easy to use by not asking for too much information, display name, rating and description should be enough

The process should be as easy as possible for your customers as putting too many barriers in their way just gives them an excuse not to do it and if you look at most of the big-name retailers, they have streamlined the review process. 

Respond To Positive and Negative Reviews Publicly

It is amazing how many companies don’t respond to reviews, whether good or bad and this can discourage people from leaving reviews and even something as simple as a thank you on a positive review can show that you have not only read it but taken the time to respond and people like to feel rewarded for their efforts. 

We will cover dealing with negative reviews in more detail below.

Offer Incentives for Leaving A Review 

Getting customers to leave a review can be challenging, especially as every company they but from will probably send them an email asking them for a review and while some people will be more than happy to do this because they are happy/unhappy, for others, you will need to incentivize them to spend their time leaving a review. 

And there are quite a few different incentives that you could offer, including:

  • A discount of their next order
  • Entry into a prize draw
  • Reward points (if you offer a loyalty scheme)

This way they aren’t just doing it out of the goodness of their heart and they can get something out of it but if you are offering an incentive, then you want maximum value out of the review, so make sure that they leave a written review rather than just a rating as written reviews do a lot better than ones with just a rating. 

How to Deal With Negative Reviews

At some point you will receive a negative review as you cannot keep everyone happy, even though you have done everything in your power to do so and getting negative reviews and knowing how to deal with these reviews can actually benefit your business.

Bet you are a little confused by that one but many customers are skeptical when a site only has perfect 5-star reviews, especially if you have a large number of reviews as this can almost appear like they aren’t genuine, even though they may be and a study found that a product with a rating of between 4.2 and 4.5 was more likely to get a sale than one with a perfect 5-star rating. 

But how do you deal with these reviews in an effective manner? 

Don’t Delete Negative Reviews 

While it can be incredibly tempting to delete a negative review, especially if the review is unjust and untrue as our egos want us to have a perfect review score, it can have a negative impact on your business and can damage your credibility.

This is because it looks like you are trying to hide any reviews from people who say anything bad about your product/business, which can make other customers question just how good your business and products are and you don’t want to do anything that undermines peoples ability to trust your business.

Also, the person who posted the negative review might become determined to leave negative reviews everywhere and anywhere, while also pointing out that you deleted their original review and on many third-party platforms it is much more difficult to get reviews removed.

Respond to Negative Reviews in a Timely and Professional Manner

Instead, you want to quickly respond to any negative reviews in a polite and professional manner and use your response as an opportunity to:

  1. Correct any mistakes in their review, for example, if they say you ignored them but you responded to every email they sent but don’t be patronizing or condescending, just stick to the facts
  2. Offer a remedy to the situation as in many cases, customers will leave a negative review without even contacting you (it is incredibly frustrating!) but you can demonstrate good customer service by offering a remedy and also pointing out that if they had contacted you first, you would have been happy to sort this out

And while you may not be able to resolve the issue with the customer who left the review, although many times this can be done and they change their negative to a neutral or positive review, it looks good in the eyes of any potential customers who are checking out the reviews before deciding whether to buy or not. 

And as 96% of customers will actively seek out negative reviews, you can demonstrate that you provide excellent customer service and build trust with them before they become a paying customer, so a negative can soon become a positive. 

Use Negative Reviews to Improve Your Business

All reviews can be helpful but negative reviews can be very helpful as the people leaving them will often include much more detail than in positive reviews as many people like to have a rant and this can help you identify any issues that may be occurring in your business, especially if you are having similar feedback in numerous reviews and this can help you address:

  • Quality control issues
  • Packaging problems
  • Shipping problems
  • Website problems 
  • Communication issues

And by knowing about these issues, you can then begin the process of fixing them so that future customers don’t encounter them, they might just encounter different ones! But hey, that is the joys of running an ecommerce business. 

Conclusion

Having customers leave reviews for your business and/or products can be hugely beneficial, not only in terms of getting more customers and increased conversion rates but also making you aware of any issues that might be happening in your business, all of which are hugely valuable in helping you grow. 

And hopefully after reading this, you will start developing a strategy of how you will implement reviews and how to get customers to actually leave them, which is the challenging part and that is where trying different methods and incentives can be a great way to find out what works for your business.

Hi, I'm Paul, the Owner and Founder of EcommerceGold.
I ran my own Ecommerce Business for over 7 years and now help others start their own online retail empires!

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