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How to Use Fan Enthusiasm to Boost Sales

As ecommerce marketers, you’re constantly brainstorming ways to boost your sales conversions and generate more revenue.

After all, both functions are the lifeblood of keeping your online retail business alive!

While there’s all sorts of sophisticated marketing tactics you’ll have at your disposal, there’s one tactic that at its core is simple, plausible, inexpensive, and best of all, doesn’t require any work from your team beyond commissioning simple code for your site.

That tactic is known as the product recommendation or the product review.

Why do mammoth e-retailers like Amazon live and breath by its use of produce reviews and recommendations?

Product Recos and Reviews Work!

The Pipemonk blog offers statistics that speaks to the effectiveness of product recommendations:

One study found that 63% of customers are more likely to buy from a store with product reviews from users, so it’s worth incorporating your customers’ recommendations and comments.

Sid Bahrath wrote an entire how-to for marketers who needed to increase their conversion rates with social proof strategies of all sorts. Sid sites some statistics that proves the importance of using social proof triggers, including customer product recommendations:

…A study conducted by Forrester and Jupiter Research found that 77% of customers read reviews before they purchased something online. (And)in an experiment conducted on, it was found that products that had reviews had a 12.5% higher conversion rate than those that didn’t. The more reviews a product had the higher the conversion rates were, with an increase of 83.85% for 20+ reviews.

Sid goes on to suggest using clever tools such as a review widget on your sales pages. This allows previous shoppers to leave their honest opinions about the product they’ve purchased for new shoppers to read. This also allows the new shopper to imagine what it would be like for them to make a buying decision for a particular product.

It’s the power of storytelling in action-everyone wants to learn how the story turns out, and they love learning that the story turns out favorably. Product reviews and recommendations do a wonderful job of answering questions while reassuring fears in the minds of prospective consumers.

Here’s what Sid said took place after Express Watches added a product review widget to their sales pages:

By merely adding a reviews widget to their product pages, Express Watches increased sales by 58.29%. On their site they made claims that their watches were authentic and came with a warranty, but consumers were still not convinced. Once they saw reviews by other customers, it became clear to them that this was the real deal…

…Authentic reviews signal to consumers that others have used your product and that it has worked for them. Showing reviews from real people, and including negative reviews, builds trust as well.

Product Recommendations and Reviews are Crucial for the Smaller Guys

For larger retailers, including product reviews and recommendations are often the gentle (or the powerful) nudge that shoppers need to finalize their buying decision. But for smaller retailers, product recommendations and reviews are often crucial!

The Shopify blog makes the reasons crystal-clear:

Smaller and newer ecommerce brands face a larger challenge when it comes to building trust than larger, well known brands. It’s especially tough these days as people are more cautious than ever.

“The increasing prevalence of phishing scams, malware, and just plain shoddy customer service makes consumers more wary with their clicks than ever before – which means that trust indicators on your website are more important than ever before.” – Mark Hayes, Shopify

Just like Mark suggests, trust indicators on your store are important and making reviews clearly available on your site can go along way towards persuading people to pull their wallets out.

So while consumers on the larger sites become hesitant to finalize their purchases due to decision paralysis, consumers become hesitate to finalize their purchase decisions on niche and small retailer sites due to a lack of trust!

It stands to reason that a consumer is going to be very leery giving money to a small retailer due to the following reasons:

  • They’ll be forced to provide their financial information
  • They’re not sure that they can trust the quality of the product they’re purchasing
  • They’re not certain that they’ll actually receive their product
  • They’re scared of an especially-challenging return process if they want to return their items

And all of these issues cross their minds on top of the normal fears that every shopper experiences when they’re at the point of committing to a buying decision.

Shoppers simply aren’t going to trust your brand just because you feel that they should! What they will trust is a page full of reviews and recommendations that come across as highly plausible while providing shopping experience testimonials from living, breathing consumers, especially consumers who are happy with a brand and want to continue patronizing the brand.

Encourage Consumer Reviews and Watch the Cash Flow

You might be nervous about instituting this tactic for a couple of reasons:

  • You’re afraid of receiving bad reviews that could damage your brand
  • You’re nervous about the expense of updating your site

Addressing the first concern, no company is perfect, and it’s impossible to please every consumer who purchases one of your products. However, the average consumer is savvy-they can read a bad review and discern whether or not the shopping experience as genuinely bad, or if the reviewer was disgruntled when they wrote the review.

Second, the cost of updating the site with customer review code doesn’t begin to compare to the boost of revenues you’ll gain based on allowing this marketing tactic on your site.

If you hope to keep up with other brands and boost your revenue, then creating a product recommendation/review system on your site is a must!

Terri is a content marketing storyteller and strategist. She teaches marketing and entrepreneurship through stories for marketers of all stripes. Her specialty is creating narrative and she writes essays and memoir in her spare time.

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