eCommerce Insiders

Product Reviews: The Lifeblood Of Your Business

When you run and build a business, the value of your business is measured in two ways: tangible assets (like equipment and inventory), and intangible assets (like your customer base, intellectual property, and reviews).

In online business, reviews are a powerful form of intangible asset.

Social proof is a powerful driver

Social proof is a very powerful motivator. Ed Hallen lists 5 types of social proof: Experts, Celebrities, Users, Wisdom of crowds, and Wisdom of friends.

Effectively, each one is a type of review.

  • Experts that vouch for your product had to have(or at least should have) used it.
  • The same thing goes for celebrities.
  • Users are people that use your product and care enough to review it.
  • Crowds are how many people in total are using a product.
  • Friends are your social circles that are using a product.

Each one of those factors has a big effect on your conversion rate – just think about your own shopping habits. Between a product that has one or more of the above factors, and one that doesn’t, which are you more likely to buy?

What reviews do

Reviews on a website show three things:

  • The product is awesome (or terrible): For a customer to visit your site after a purchase and spend a good chunk of time leaving a review, the product you sold them has to either be downright awesome or awful.

  • It also shows that the company cares enough to ask for a review. Customers usually won’t make the effort to post a review unless the company they bought from asks them to do it. You’ll probably see this from your experience, too. Whenever you buy something online, the store usually sends an email asking for a review a few days after delivery. Sometimes, just that simple gesture alone is enough to push a customer to spend some time writing a thoughtful review

  • Finally, it shows that the customer cares. If you browse through some of the reviews on Amazon, not only are they pros and cons of the product, but they are also instruction manuals in themselves! Some reviewers will list issues they had with the product which they found a workaround for, and some will list cool hacks and modifications. Book reviews are also very thoughtful, with many reviewers writing a full critique of a book. Writing a review like this takes a long time – try it yourself – so if a customer sits and goes through all that effort, they really care!

When should you ask for a review?

Next up comes the question of when you should ask for a review. You don’t want to send the email too early, that the customer hasn’t even received your product yet – and you don’t want to send it too late, that the customer has already forgotten about you!

It’s a good bet to send your review request 8-10 days after your product has shipped(if you use standard shipping), or even sooner if you expedite. This gives your customer enough time to have received your product, used it, and experienced it.

Just an email alone might not cut it, though. Incentivizing buyers to leave reviews can be effective in some cases. You can offer anything you like, from a drawing for a gift certificate or store credit, to cash back on the customer’s order. Just make sure the incentive isn’t only tied to positive reviews.

The best way to see which one works for your business is to test, test, test!

Taking it one step further

In a recent vlog, Ezra Firestone spoke about a really interesting tactic. Instead of sending just one cookie-cutter email a few days after purchase asking for a review, why not send a whole series of emails from the time of purchase all the way to the point you ask for the review?

In the first email, you could have a personalized “Thank you” for the order.

In the second, you could inform them that their order has shipped and they should receive it in a few days.

In the third email, you could inform them that their product should be arriving any day now, and talk to them in more detail about the product: what they can do with it, how to make the best of it, and so on.

Finally, you can send them an email that triggers when a product is delivered informing them about how you are so excited they have received the product, and thanking them once again for their purchase.

How about recording a short video message for each email, instead?

Bad reviews and fakes

Like we mentioned in the last post, bad reviews aren’t actually all that bad. They actually present your company/product as being more genuine.

If you don’t have a single bad review, many customers might become skeptical and start wondering if these reviews were staged. Especially if they sound like:

“This Was An Excellent Product. Will Definitely Buy Again!”

Reviews are a feedback machine

When you are selling your own home-cooked product, reviews are obviously a great way to get feedback from customers about your product, but even if you resell other people’s products, reviews can be useful for feedback.

If you’ve noticed while shopping online, many people will leave a positive review for receiving the item very quickly or getting top-notch customer service. Similarly, many people will leave a negative review for poor communication and service – even if they were ultimately very satisfied with the product!

Collecting reviews and feedback will help you find out where your processes can be tweaked.

Conversion rates with reviews

Reviews do very well to boost conversion rates, since they go a long way in clearing up any doubts your buyer may have about your product or your company.

Here is an interesting statistic: FigLeaves, a UK-based retailer, saw a 35% increase in their conversion rate just by adding reviews.

To take reviews one step further, you can add a face to your review to instill even more trust. By including a profile picture of the reviewer, an A/B test saw a 22% increase in conversion from just a regular review.

To get pictures, you can use a service like Gravatar, or even pull photos from people’s social media profiles (you’d have to ask permission, of course).

Ultimately, the more reviews you can collect, the more powerful your brand is. Look at Amazon – they have millions of products, and perhaps billions of reviews – all which play a huge part in driving their billions of dollars of revenues.

Shabbir Nooruddin

Shabbir has a passion for selling things online. He blogs about eCommerce at Bootstrapping Ecommerce. When he isn’t building an online store, you can find him buried in a book or in the gym.

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