The world of retail is changing into an opinion focused market. Amazon, Walmart, Costco, Google and more have revolutionized the way people purchase products. The warehouse listing approach doesn’t allow the brand as much leeway to sell the product themselves so the review portion becomes the most important factor in making a purchase decision. Consumers no longer rely on brands to learn how good their products are. Instead, they solicit and read user reviews from consumers like themselves who have purchased and used that product. A few quick stats about online reviews:
- 92% of consumers now read online reviews
- 80% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations
- 40% of consumers form an opinion after reading just one to three reviews
- Star rating is the number one factor used by consumers to judge a product
Consumers like brands that engage with their buyers. By creating a personal relationship with consumers, a brand can forge a different level of trust. To engage properly, brands should employ the following tactics.
- Create profiles on the same sites as your customers. Being social and present everywhere is the best way to engage customers to provide feedback. If you sell a product that caters to millennials, you will need to be on different sites than a company that sells to seniors. You also need to ensure that all profiles created are monitored so negative feedback doesn’t appear without response.
- Respond to positive AND negative product reviews. Always accentuate the positive as people love to be acknowledged. Even more importantly, though, respond to the negative reviews. Many negative reviews may not even be related to the product. It could be shipping, packaging, assembly, or general misperceptions about the product in general. Response and resolution to negative reviews can be as powerful as a 5-star review
- Allow your customers to help you answer product questions. Reddit is a great resource to solicit help and opinions from a large, loyal user base. One of our clients, Allen Edmonds, has a very active Reddit user base that acts as an advocate for the brand.
More and more brands are finding success with ‘Dollar Shave Club’ style marketing, where humor and quirkiness are used to entertain customers and sell products. We are not advocating using improper language or tasteless humor to promote your brand, but by entertaining your customers you can earn more feedback and reviews.
- Give customers a reason to provide feedback. Nothing is more cliché and disappointing than the triggered email that immediately hits your inbox after ordering – the one with your invoice, shipping details, and a generic button or line of copy saying, “Please review us.” This customer just ORDERED your product and obviously likes you. Use this opportunity while they are a captive audience to send an entertaining email.
I recently ordered a product from a brand that I thought did a wonderful job of entertaining its customer. The example below is from Smooth Viking Pomade, which I decided to try over my normal go-to, American Crew.
After ordering, I found this email very entertaining, but because I hadn’t used the product yet, no interaction from me. Notice they didn’t ask for a review – just offered customer support.
10 days later, ‘Charlie’ (personalized is a nice touch) acknowledges that my product had been shipped and again reaffirms their customer support. Now, however, they ask for 30 seconds of my time for my feedback and thank me in advance. At this point, I really liked the product and did fill out an Amazon review.
A couple months later, I ran out of my original product and ordered more. I see another Smooth Viking email pop up and they are following up again. At this point, they call me a friend and take a funny jab at Tom from MySpace. They now asked me to review and “cement my legacy.” I had already reviewed them, but this may have cemented me as a customer.
It takes a lot of hard work and strategy to earn reviews. Too many brands rely on one source or their CMS based e-commerce systems to handle their reviews. A couple ways to earn reviews were covered above, but how can you start?
- Simply ask for a review. Sometimes customers just need a little motivation to review your product. If you are using a very sophisticated database and know that they have ordered before, you can ask for reviews upon purchase. If not, you may want to wait 7-10 days like the example above to ensure that they have received and are using the product.
- Make it easy to leave a review. There are so many places to review products that people sometimes get confused. Leave a link in the email that sends them to wherever their sale originated from. Sites that people stay logged into (Google, Amazon, Costco, etc.) are the easiest as they can simply write a review without having to create a profile.
- Reward consumers for a review. Paying for or buying your reviews can get you banned from top review sites, so don’t use a black hat tactic. Incentives, however, are a great way to get people to share information. Coupons, contests, sweepstakes, and discounts are all great ways to elicit feedback and earn return purchases.
- Ask for photos and short video testimonials. One of the most powerful features of Amazon reviews is the ability for people to post actual product pictures. As a consumer, you can view a carousel of images of the product as you make your buying decision. As a brand, peer photos and testimonials are a much more powerful promotional mechanism than a brand could ever create.
- Don’t take it personally. Even the best products will earn negative reviews. While these may bring down your average, they make your whole review footprint more believable.
Product reviews have many advantages outside of selling products. Reviews can help elevate your store’s online rankings, create chatter on social media, elevate SEO and identify keywords and terms for paid media campaigns. Most importantly, honest feedback and reviews provide you with a free user group to improve your product and messaging.