It’s no secret product reviews positively impact conversion rates, and they’re considered table stakes for ecommerce websites.
But customer reviews only add value when they exist, and it can be difficult to acquire customer reviews — especially for low trafficked and low sell-through products. How can you boost your review mojo?
10 Tips for acquiring more customer reviews
1. Use post-purchase email
Review requests by email are common, and typically are scheduled for x-days post-purchase. This is a very effective tactic as it gives the customer a chance to experience and evaluate the product before review, and reminds the customer that reviews are helpful to other customers-like-them.
The best review request emails display images of recent purchases with direct links to review, and emphasize the value a review contribution provides to other shoppers. Research by Bazaarvoice highlights altruism is the main motivator for customer review contribution.
Bonus tip: ask gift-givers to forward review requests to their gift recipients.
ReturnPath reports that review requests have above average open rates, far fewer deletes and unread rates than other campaigns. (Consider including a limited time offer to spur a repeat purchase, but make it a secondary call-to-action, with the review request primary).
2. Incentivize customer review submissions
While customers are motivated by altruism, don’t discount self-interest. Incentivizing review submissions can be effective.
However, offering discounts for reviews may hurt the perceived authenticity of all reviews on your site. If customers believe other customers have written reviews in exchange for discounts, they may put less trust in your business.
Alternatively, many retailers offer a chance to win a gift card or free product. This can be offered through the website as a general promotion, not tied to recent orders. For example, Mighty Leaf brand is sold through many grocery stores and served in restaurants, ask anyone and everyone who lands on their site.
Some retailers promote review contests on their home pages.
Macy’s bakes its review contest into product pages:
Vitasave offers a combo-deal, submit a review, get 5% off and be entered into sweepstakes for a gift card.
3. Treat “Submit Review” as a product page call-to-action
Most online shops’ submit review links or buttons are nearly invisible. Can you spot one below?
Even bold buttons, if not placed in the right spot, will be overlooked.
Treat your “submit review” links as a bold call-to-action, and place them proximal to your review section title. For example, if your button is white and right-aligned…
…make it a bold color, and place it close to your review title.
And consider adding an icon within your button to attract more attention:
4. Use staff reviewers
Generating enough reviews to be useful can be tough if your site is relatively low-trafficked or product is seasonal.
When we ran the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Store, all staff were familiar with the product and qualified to write unbiased reviews. In fact, your staff’s product knowledge may qualify them to write even better reviews that the typical customer.
If you use staff reviewers, disclose this with a specific tag or badge – a feature in most customer review solutions.
5. Leverage manufacturer reviews
Some manufacturers allow you to pull customer reviews from their site into your product pages. For example, Target uses Greco reviews in addition to its own customers’ contributions.
This can improve your customer experience. More reviews means a more reliable average star rating, and more content to help make a purchase decision. However, too much use of external review content can impact SEO – use this approach wisely.
6. Leverage in-store customers
If you operate physical stores, consider throwing private VIP parties for new product launches, or other customer appreciation events where customers in-store can provide reviews directly through tablets or kiosks. This in-store tech can also be made available 24/7 in-store, with sales staff encouraging customers to contribute during regular business hours.
The beauty of this tactic is customers don’t have to own the product, just experience in-store and offer their honest opinions (I’ve yet to see a retailer leverage this idea).
7. Send free samples
When you send free samples in an order, include a postcard requesting reviews. Customers won’t think of it unless you ask! Consider sending an email request as well.
8. Use package inserts asking for a review
Whether an order includes samples or not, an insert request reminds your customer how valuable their opinion is.
9. Remove / reduce friction for submitting reviews
Web users are lazy, and to get a conversion of any kind, you must reduce or eliminate the friction that prevents taking action.
Consider supporting reviews that don’t require a customer log-in (because who can remember their email and password combo, really).
If you use the open form approach, make sure you use a captcha…
Yotpo’s review request emails allow customers to compose and submit reviews directly from the email — a great user experience, especially on mobile.
10. Take the opportunity to cross-sell
Finally, take the post-submission opportunity to recommend other products your customer may like.
The new “CRO” is customer review optimization!
Need help with your ecommerce strategy? Drop me a line.
Ecommerce Illustrated is a project of Edgacent, an ecommerce advisory group.