Online product reviews play a large role in influencing a consumer’s decision-making process. In 2016, Pew Research reported that over 80% of U.S. adults read online customer ratings and reviews at some point at least sometime before purchasing items for the first time and- 40% always read reviews before purchasing a product online. Statista also reported that nearly 70% of shoppers cited trustworthy reviews as their strongest influencing factor when making a purchase.
Top retailers like Amazon, eBay, Best Buy and QVC list reviews for nearly every product imaginable and the top sellers, whether third-party sellers or direct sellers, have comprehensive strategies for getting customers to leave reviews. These large retailers are leading the way when it comes to offering this essential decision-making tool, but you don’t have to be a huge retailer to leverage the power of product reviews on your own website.
How to add product reviews to your website
The easiest way to add product review functionality to your website (without coding) is by using your ecommerce platform’s native app. However, while platforms like BigCommerce and Magento offer product review apps, they typically don’t offer as much as third-party apps, plugins and softwares. As your business grows, you will likely find that you need a more robust third-party product review platform.
Third-party tools such as BazaarVoice, Yotpo and TrustPilot are compatible across multiple platforms and shopping carts and offer a host of features. Here are a few features that we recommend when shopping around for a product review solution.
- Schema Markup compatibility: Schema data – also known as tags – is a vocabulary of microdata that can be added to your website’s HTML code to improve your ranking in search results. Schema markup is created using a very specific coding syntax which helps search engines correctly list your website’s content in their search results. This (very technical) page on Schema.org lists the specific tags associated with product reviews. A tool such as BazaarVoice can help ensure you implement these tags correctly.
- Ability to connect to Google Merchant Center: Google Merchant Center allows retailers to advertise their wares on Google Shopping. Most big retailers are already doing this and though your small store may not be (yet), it’s a functionality you’ll want if you decide to advertise on Google Shopping since products with reviews get more clicks than those without them. Here is an example of shopping results for the search “Uggs Boots” – only one retailer (Zappos) has a product rating featured with their listing and this is the ad that stands out.
- Consumer Curated Content: Some review platforms such as BazaarVoice and Yotpo offer their merchants the ability to curate content (with customer consent) by leveraging their customers’ Instagram photos and product reviews and featuring them throughout their website or in ads on social media.
When looking into a product review platform, it’s important to find something that is customizable, easy-to-implement and mobile friendly. Most review tools are free to try, but offer more robust functionality with monthly subscription models at different price points. Predictive Analytics provides a comprehensive list of product review platforms to get you started.
Considering your product review strategy
It’s not enough to have a tool in place to collect product reviews, you also need a comprehensive strategy to get your customers to write the reviews in the first place. Your strategy should include (but not be limited to) the following considerations.
- Build review solicitation into your customer outreach strategy. You should plan to automate this as much as you can. For example, you can create a review request email template and schedule the email to be sent to customers a day or two after they receive their purchase. Some review platforms such as BazaarVoice already have this functionality baked into the features.
- Expect negative reviews and formulate a plan for addressing them. Consumers are often sceptical if reviews skew too positive, so a negative review isn’t the worst thing in the world. However, it’s important to have a plan to respond to and address the negative reviews so that future customers can see that you are responsive and want to make your customers happy. This is the best way to turn a negative into a positive and gain new customers along the way.
- Email past customers to help you build your product review database. Your product review strategy should consider the fact that you’ll have precious few reviews (at first). Make sure you use all the resources available to you to get new reviews live and on your website. To this end, don’t be shy about emailing past customers and asking them to review their purchase. IMPORTANT: Make sure you don’t incentivise customers to leave a review. At best, this may make a good review seem disingenuous. At worst, it could get you in trouble with the FTC.
What are you waiting for?
Product reviews increase sales by adding credibility to your products as well as your business. In the Pew study mentioned above, a larger percentage of Americans felt that product reviews were more helpful in making sure companies were accountable to their customers than government regulations (46% vs. 30%).
Product reviews are also a great way to add up-to-date, keyword-rich content to your website which benefits you and your users alike. Since Amazon launched the first user-generated reviews back in 1995, consumers have become accustomed, and even dependent, on product reviews from fellow shoppers before they make a purchase.
Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services
From legacy Fortune 100 institutions to inventive start-ups, Ryan brings extensive experience with a wide range of B2B clients. He skillfully architects and manages the delivery of integrated marketing programs, and believes strongly in strategy, not just tactics, that effectively aligns sales and marketing teams within organizations