3 ways to harness customer reviews to boost sales for your eCommerce store

Published August 13, 2013 by Aaron+ in Ecommerce / Optimizing Your Store / SEO

We previously talked about the pivotal role of user-generated content (UGC) in your social media strategy. But before you get all excited brainstorming new and creative ways to solicit it, we’d like to draw your attention to an undervalued form of UGC that you already have:  product reviews.

You may ask “Why undervalued?”. The truth is: Many retailers never fully exploit the true potential of product reviews. Some retailers neglect to source for them altogether. Others treat it as a chore, confining reviews to the dusty corners of obscure product pages. It’s a tragic waste.

Here’s 3 ways you can start leveraging your reviews to get more traffic and sales:

1) Share selected reviews on your social media profiles

Ever hate yourself for the endless self-promotion you end up doing on your Facebook page? Why not share some well-written reviews from your customers instead?

Remember: Consumers trust one another more than they trust merchants, so promoting existing customer reviews is a vastly superior strategy to talking about yourself on social media.

The social and persuasive nature of reviews makes online followers likelier to purchase your products.

Reviews shared on social media by YotpoThis still isn’t the best of examples. “There is a new review” is technical and neutral. Use every opportunity to communicate personality and human warmth- try something like “We hate the taste of plastic too!”

That said, your social media profiles shouldn’t be a never-ending stream of reviews. That comes across as a little needy and insecure, and people may wonder if you’re fabricating them. Focus on sharing great content, and mention your reviews tactfully, almost as a sidenote.

Personalize your response to the reviews, focusing on specific elements of your customers’ experiences. Be human about it. This communicates attentiveness and sincerity, which is always a plus for any brand.

Share negative reviews too. This can actually work to your advantage! Consumers are conditioned to seeing good reviews, so they might write them off as cherry-picked or superficial- or even overlook them altogether. In contrast, negative reviews feel more “real”.

A gracious response to a negative review can be more powerful than any advertising you pay for. Of course, you’ll have to walk the talk: embrace the negative feedback, learn from it, improve your product and do whatever it takes to delight the unhappy customer.

2) Make your reviews credible

A review’s value to potential customers is directly determined by its trustworthiness.

Unfortunately, not every online review is trustworthy. Some bad reviews are falsely made to flame a company (personal attacks, or even corporate sabotage), while others are used as elaborate form of artificial self-promotion.

Such reviews can be highly damaging to your brand, as they “pollute” the review pool. The sabotage of others is survivable if you focus on delighting your actual customers, but you’re pretty much screwed if you ever get caught cooking the books yourself- so don’t do it. It’s not worth it. Save that time and energy to work on things that really matter to your customers.

So be careful when moderating reviews. Make a concerted effort to address negative ones, and make sure that positive ones are legitimate and credible.

Verified reviews from reevoo

Manually verifying reviews can be tedious and time-consuming. This is time well-spent when you’re just starting out, but it doesn’t scale as you grow. Luckily, there are applications that can help you automate the process.

Besides email verification, you can consider requesting your reviewers to connect to a social network profile, which increases the credibility of the reviews.

The added credibility of verified reviewers has been proven to increase sales by an average of 240%, according to Yotpo. That’s a ridiculous margin! You’ll more than double your sales if people are successfully persuaded that other people like your stuff.

3) Improve your SEO with your reviews

Rich snippets for product reviews SEO

You don’t have to contain your reviews to social media: You can have them on search engine results, too! You may have seen ratings appearing underneath Google search results of certain products by now.

This is what you should be doing for your product pages too, because a search result with Rich Snippets is more conspicuous and attracts attention. That means better clickthrough rates.

Moreover, the presence of reviews as a form of UGC in your site boosts SEO when search engines determine how well your eCommerce store should rank.

Google loves unique, quality content, which user-submitted reviews provide. So make sure that your reviews are marked up properly in HTML, making it easily readable by search engine crawlers.

We have talked about how to implement Rich Snippets before in a technical how-to guide. However, if you do not have the technical know-how, there should already be apps on your eCommerce platform that can help you implement Rich Snippets. Some apps can even help to optimize the HTML markup of reviews into easily crawlable content.

Is there an easy way to do all of this?

Yes, of course. There are several applications that can assist eCommerce retailers in the area of “social commerce”, in which customer reviews play a big role in. Some examples include Bazaarvoice, Reevoo, Yotpo, Ratings Widget, etc.

Yotpo Reviews

After spending some time checking them all out, we’ve got our eyes set on Yotpo. Yotpo can help to supercharge your review system in all of the abovementioned aspects within a single, clean interface.

It is sleek, easy-to-use, and supports all the popular eCommerce platforms. Best of all, it’s completely free! (They’ll only start charging you when you’ve got more than 1,000,000 page views per month- and you’ll definitely be able to afford it by then.)

You can easily publish selected reviews on your social network profiles.
You can create “hidden” minisites for your reviews that will boost your SEO in the backend.

Compared to other applications that perform similar functions at a premium corporate rate, Yotpo is the perfect choice for small to medium sized eCommerce retailers.

You really have no excuse not to at least give it a try.

Images Credits: Awesome Drinks, Yotpo, Reevoo

EDITOR’S NOTE: Oh yeah, Yotpo has no idea that we’re writing this. Tee hee.

Make Sharing Sweeter

Do you know what’s the best and arguably most valuable method of getting new customers for your business? It’s when existing customers refer a friend. But although 83% of satisfied customers are willing to refer you, only 29% actually do. Global brands like 99designs run customer referral programs with ReferralCandy to proactively encourage word-of-mouth. Learn more about ReferralCandy now!