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This article was written by Victoria Greene, a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on ecommerce and how writers can develop their craft. She is passionate about using her experience to help brands grow their business the right way.

Investing in reviews means investing in the customer experience. In the largely depersonalized and competitive landscape of ecommerce, great reviews can make all the difference.

They obviously help you increase your conversion rates and increase sales, but they also help foster a sense of customer cohesion and community. They can help “mediocre” products become your best-sellers, and allow happy customers to share their experience of your brand far and wide.

Here are some of the top tips and tricks you can use to make the most of reviews for your online business.

Ecommerce customer reviews — reviewed

Amazon is the goliath of the ecommerce world and they have customer reviews nailed. Let’s look at an the example to see how their customer reviews work in practice:

Amazon reviews are deceptively simple. The clear layout and lack of enforced narrative mean that the star rating, punchy headline, and user-submitted copy steal the show. It’s a class act in showing how easy review design can be — you just have to let the text do its thing. The small “verified purchase” gives us reassurance that this is a genuine customer, but in a subtle way.

Many websites try to steer reviews — but this can make them harder to fill in, and less easy to understand for the busy user. Empty words like “value for money” and “quality” can be turn-offs, so don’t force your customers into formulaic phrases.  

Amazon have clear review calls-to-action. You can either comment, mark the review as helpful (or not), or even report it. This is a great way to encourage users to interact and make reviewing into a kind of game, one that’s good for business.

Not convinced about user-generated reviews? Try these stats on user-generated reviews and conversion rates on for size:

  • 88 percent of shoppers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 72 percent of shoppers are more likely to trust a business if they have positive reviews
  • 50 percent is how much more millennials trust UGC more than any other form of media

Those figures are arresting and they demonstrate the sheer power of customer reviews. Your customers are more likely to trust your business if you display customer reviews, making them more likely to buy your products.

How can I add customer reviews to my site?

It’s now easier than ever to just start generating online reviews — even if you are a small business or a startup on a bootstrap budget. (In fact, small businesses should be especially careful to collect reviews in the early days, as they help build vital brand credibility).

There are a number of customer reviews apps, plugins, and widgets as long as the Iron Giant’s arm. An app or plugin that integrates with the rest of your website and business is one of the easiest ways to start introducing reviews to your digital content mix. To get the ball rolling, reach out to some early adopters and brand advocates who will know just what to say.

Focus on creating a central ‘hub’ for your reviews (like Amazon), and send email and social media traffic to your site so that you collect enough social proof traction. Get other users to interact with reviews to create social proof and enhance review quality and traction.

You’ll also like: Why You Should Incorporate Online Reviews into Your Website

Social media — another review channel?

Social media has taken over online commerce — and reviews are no different. It’s important as we move into 2018 that ecommerce brands appreciate the importance of social media as a customer experience channel.

There are a few different ways to leverage social media and the power of reviews:

  • Customer review outtakes make the perfect social media fodder. It’s the new way to #humblebrag. Collect some of the best reviews together and take out any succinct quotes and compelling stories. Overlay the text on an image and let your happy customers do the talking!
  • Use social media to shout out to customers who’ve recently been vocal about a positive experience, and thank them for their kind words.
  • Collect reviews on social media and re-purpose them elsewhere. Maybe get customers to react to a new product line, or ask them to review your brand or packaging?
  • Use social media as a great customer experience channel —  use it as a place to meet customers, deal with requests, and even update customers on orders and stock levels.
  • Reviews are also a great way to do digital PR and influencer marketing — get bloggers and other online influencers to review your products and leverage their words in your own marketing. It’s a great, natural way to grow your audience.

Incorporating customer reviews into your business

As powerful as they are, there’s no value to customer reviews if you’re not incorporating them into your business. Acquiring customer reviews in the first place, managing them, and responding to them in a timely manner need to be top priority tasks for you and your team. There is a lot of admin work that goes into keeping reviews looking fresh!

Got a torrent of negative reviews? Don’t panic! Remember, there may be no such thing as bad PR — and at least people are taking note. The worst thing you could do at a time like this is lay low and remain silent. Address any issues head-on and in a public arena. Leave specifics to one-on-one interactions, but don’t let people take down your products or brand with no opposition. Here are 5 key practices to follow when responding to reviews.

Pro tip: If you are shopping for a new ecommerce business to buy, start by reading the reviews. It is one of the best ways to find out more about ACTUAL customer history and brand value. A lucrative business to invest in is one that’s already invested in its customers. Inheriting bad reviews you can do nothing about is no fun.

Don’t stop at reviews! As customer reviews are an example of UGC (user-generated content), it will do your business the world of good to add some other types of UGC to your site as well. Ask your customers to submit guest posts, video testimonials, or simply post about your brand on social media. It’s all about bringing customers into your business in a way that’s natural and engaging.

(Image credit: Instagram, Shopify)

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.

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