Times have changed, and your digital presence is arguably more important than your physical store these days. There aren’t the same limitations for online sales as there are with brick and mortar stores, and even small ecommerce businesses can quickly be catapulted to the international stage.
Making your digital presence strong is of the utmost importance, and positive online reviews are one of the most surefire ways to boost your business’s value in the eyes of new consumers.
Aggregating Customer Reviews
Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center has found that aggregating customer reviews next to online product listings boosts sales conversion rates across the board. Interestingly, while products with lower prices saw a conversion rate boost of 190%, which is impressive enough, in the case of higher-priced items, researchers observed a jaw-dropping 380% conversion rate boost.
There’s arguably no other aspect of ecommerce with such a direct positive correlation to customer sales conversion. The numbers speak plainly in that having both positive and numerous reviews is a boon for any business.
Utilize the following strategies for positive review acquisition, and you’ll have a powerful marketing tool that is more valuable than any advertisement could ever hope to be.
Fan Positive Flames
An easy and quick method to build a positive review base is to simply capitalize on your successes. Train your customer service team to take note when you have an especially satisfied customer, and once the issue is fully resolved, reach out about leaving a review.
If you grow your social media presence authentically, then in time you will likely gather what some call “superfans.” These customers strongly identify with your brand and are looking for an avenue to become more involved and deepen their connection. Capitalize on their interest by encouraging them to post online reviews.
When reaching out about leaving a review, ensure your tone is personal and earnest. Insincerity reeks and could potentially flip a positive review to neutral — or worse.
When you can identify customers who are already excited about your product and service, sometimes you just need to hold their hands a bit through the review process. By doing this, their positive energy expands beyond word of mouth into a concrete asset for your business.
Engage via Email
Review acquisition is an art in itself, and email outreach is by far the most effective channel, simply because by the time a customer is ready to leave a review, they’ve already grown used to seeing your brand’s emails in their inbox. Not that this means outreach is simple. It’s an important enough niche that entire agencies specialize in review acquisition experiments and analytics.
Ryan Chaffin, founder of KAHA, breaks email-based review requests down into three types of methods. “An email blast is when you simply email your entire email list and ask for reviews,” he wrote in a recent blog post. “Personal emails are when you reach out to customers individually with a personalized email and ask for reviews. Automated email sequences are our favorite because you can reach out to your entire email list while making the emails feel personal, which increases the odds of getting more real reviews from happy customers.”
It’s a deep game, and each of these methods can be fine-tuned over time to best fit your business’s needs. Once you have a winning formula, they require little in terms of time and upkeep.
With an effective email workflow supplemented by outstanding customer service, your business has the necessary tools in its hands. From there, the only obstacle is time.
Persist and Respond
Sometimes the process is a bit like having to jiggle a key to unlock an old door. Apply too much force, and you might snap the key outright, but without enough pressure you’ll never move the deadbolt. It requires a little patience and a combination of techniques until you finally find that sweet spot to pop it open, and once you do, it all becomes more natural.
Having a framework in place for your review acquisition experimentation processes can mean the difference between growth and stagnation. It helps avoid your outreach coming across as overbearing and gives you the time necessary to observe what’s working. Once you’ve identified your most effective tactics, the plan can then be further improved upon with new insights.
One parameter worth experimenting with is the lag time between order fulfillment and outreach. “In most cases, it’s a good idea to ask for a review 3-5 days after the transaction has taken place,” suggests marketing thought leader Neil Patel “This will give them the chance to engage with your offering and come up with an honest opinion, in terms of how good it is and if they’d feel comfortable recommending it to other people.”
Patel goes on to elaborate on how split testing different aspects of your emails, and tracking the different results, can ultimately lead to an overall more effective process. When a customer does leave a review, don’t leave them out in the cold. Respond to them warmly, so this kind of behavior is recognized and affirmed, increasing the likelihood they (and potentially others) will leave a review again. And replying to negative reviews can help protect your reputation, while also paving the way towards fixing a bad customer experience.
As with so much else in the business world, persistence pays dividends. While these techniques can certainly work for you within weeks, the true rewards will be reaped in the many prosperous months to follow.
Show Your Strength
Once you have glowing reviews at an impressive and trusted industry level, don’t be shy with them. These are just as impactful as any photo could be, and they should be an integral part of everything from pitch emails to point of purchase displays.
By showing that it’s not just you standing by your products, but your past customers as well, you exude confidence that all customers seek when considering their next purchase.