How to Leverage Online Reviews to Maximize eCommerce Sales

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Marketing Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Marketing pros

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

If you want to improve your ecommerce sales, one great option is to encourage more online reviews. Here’s how you can do this simply and with minimal cost.

Article 3 Minutes

Encouraging people to buy a product can be difficult online. There’s an additional barrier in place, whereby the user cannot touch or even see the actual item. This, combined with the fear of fraud, can make customers hesitant to make a purchase, which will significantly hurt your sales if it’s happening often.

So, what’s the answer? Well, one option is to utilize customer reviews. Ideally, you’ll already have this function enabled on your ecommerce website. If not, this is something you should change immediately, as 63% of customers are more likely to purchase from a site simply due to it having reviews.

This is especially true for companies without a huge level of brand recognition. When it comes to companies they’re not familiar with, 88% of consumers consider online reviews very influential. However, even once they know a business is trustworthy, 67% of female customers still put this much stock in reviews.

So, once you’ve enabled reviews, how can you encourage them? Many consumers won’t simply give you positive feedback out of the kindness of their heart. And how can you make sure your reviews translate into improved ecommerce sales? Read on for our top tips on the matter.

Email customers and ask

This might seem like a surprisingly obvious option, but not enough businesses are doing it well. Timing is important, of course; you want to make sure your customer has received the item and been able to form a positive opinion of it, but you don’t want to leave it so long that the purchase has faded in their mind.

A lot of review platforms can be used in combination with emails to make this especially easy for the consumer, and it can have incredible results. By using this tactic, Marks and Spencer saw their customer reviews increase by 427% in less than a year.

Don’t worry too much about bad reviews

It’s tempting to try to avoid bad reviews altogether, but this is actually not a good idea. A site with only positive reviews can seem untrustworthy and inauthentic, pushing customers away from making a purchase. Having a few bad reviews on your site leads to users trusting the good ones more, while also making them 85% more likely to make a purchase.

However, you don’t want to accrue too many. Reading three bad reviews would deter around two-thirds of customers from making a purchase. You can slightly negate this by always making sure you respond to bad feedback in a polite and apologetic manner. This will give customers a more positive opinion of your brand.

Sort reviews by helpfulness

Amazon has done a lot to make itself the undisputed ruler of ecommerce, but one of its most successful tweaks was surprisingly small. By allowing users to sort customer reviews by helpfulness - and setting this as the default option - the company increased its revenue by an astonishing $2.7 billion per year.

The feature adds authenticity to the reviews, and encourages users to leave minor feedback. If they don’t have the time for a full review, they can simply show that they found a positive one helpful. It also usually leads to unfair negative feedback being voted down by happy customers, making it less likely to be seen.

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