Everywhere you go, you see reviews. Whether it’s a physical product, food, or some type of service, if it’s worth talking about (in good or bad ways), it has reviews.
Some of this feedback is simply comments on blogs and forums. But mostly, reviews exist on large e-commerce sites where companies sell their products.
The most important thing about reviews is that people are passionate about them.
According to Venturebeat.com, 30% of Internet users check out reviews on Amazon before buying a product. And that’s just Amazon.
This digital bathroom scale on Amazon has nearly 12,000 reviews and 143 questions and answers about the product. The fact that it’s nearly half-off will help drive sales, but the reviews and customer interaction have a huge impact. Before, people would ask their friends about products. But now, they increasingly rely on online reviews.
People trust reviews to inform them about their decisions, and reviews play a huge role in final purchasing decisions – whether it’s to buy a particular product or choose a specific doctor.
Although there’s no way to definitively say that reviews are good for business, just about every study or anecdotal case suggests that they are. You don’t have to be a big e-commerce site to add reviews to your personal website store.
Potential customers trust reviews for a few reasons:
- They represent a real use situation
- They are less likely to be biased (than a sales page)
- They give visitors confidence to buy, proving there won’t be any issues with the purchase
Getting reviews is hard: If you’ve been selling online, you’ve probably noticed that it is difficult to get customers to leave reviews. People want to buy things, but they don’t really want to do any extra work. Writing a good review can take 5 to 15 minutes without providing much of a benefit to the reviewer.
That’s why people typically leave a review for one of three reasons:
- They hate the product
- They love the product
- They’re somewhere in-between but would like to clear up any confusion around the product for other potential buyers (essentially just doing something nice)
The first two reasons are pretty self-explanatory.
Obviously, you don’t want people leaving reviews if they hate the product. That’s how you get negative reviews and one-star reviews that actually decrease your conversion rates.
So, how do you prevent it? Simple: have a great product along with great customer service.
If you create a product that everyone loves, you’ll get tons of reviews. In reality, most products have customers that fall into all three camps. What you need to do is focus on the people who already love your product and the ones that like it. A solid three- or four-star review can still help your conversion rate.
The Best Ways to Get the Most Reviews from Your Happy Customers
Most business owners love to create products. But not all business owners love to sell their products or services. Selling often feels like you’re doing something wrong and imposing on the people you genuinely care about. It’s hard to ask for anything but it needs to be done.
You need to start by realizing that selling doesn’t have to be underhanded. If you create a truly valuable product, sales is simply letting people know about it. If your product is great, people will buy your product and thank you for the opportunity.
After you make the sale, however, you need to ask customers to review it.
If you don’t ask, most will never even think of doing it, even if they don’t mind. Although it might seem like you’re imposing on them—asking for something without giving something in return—you aren’t. Most happy customers are glad to help you spread the word of your product so that other people will also give it a shot.
So, stop thinking that you’re taking advantage of your customers and realize that you’re helping each other. Ideally, you want to ask for reviews as soon as you can after the purchase is made and your buyer had the time to receive and test the product. If you ask too early, customers can’t review the product because they haven’t had the chance to use it. If you ask too late, they’ll have forgotten about it and are less likely to review it (although late is better than early). You could do what Amazon does. Amazon typically sends an email reminder asking you to review a recent purchase a few days after you’ve received it.
What’s the right approach? How to ask for a review
It’s important to carefully approach the subject of reviews with your customers.
First, you want them to receive the product and be happy with it. The more satisfied they are, the more likely they are to not only leave a review but leave a positive one. Before asking for a review, I recommend contacting customers and asking them if they had any problems with their order. If they have had problems, they’ll let you know, and you’ll have the chance to fix them. If they haven’t had any problems, some will let you know, but the others just won’t reply. It’s safe to ask any of these customers for reviews.
Finally, the way in which you ask for reviews is important. Being persuasive with your request can double or triple the number of reviews you end up getting.
Tip #1 – Be appreciative:
Reviewers don’t get much out of the process. It’s just a nice thing they can do for other people reading reviews in the future. That said, many reviewers will give you reviews if they know that the reviews are important to you.
The online doctor review site – Real Self – does a good job of this. There are two parts of the email in particular that make it work so well:
- “…would love for you to share your experience…” – They don’t just ask you to leave a review for the fun of it. They’re making it clear that they appreciate it and value it.
- “…will also help others make informed decisions” – Since the customer was just in the tough situation of trying to make a good decision, they are likely to be empathetic to other people in the same situation. Some customers will leave a review just to help others.
Tip #2 – Make it simple:
Most reviewers leave reviews because it’s a nice thing to do. There is, of course, a limit to how much most people are willing to give just by being nice. Make leaving a review as easy as possible.
First, if you’re asking for a review on any third-party sites, always link directly to the review forms on the specific sites:
Alternatively, if you’re asking customers to leave a review on your site, let them start the process by clicking on a star rating within an email. All the biggest sites do this for a reason. It works.
The other benefit is that it makes it really clear that you’re looking for the customer to leave a review (they know what stars represent).
Tip #3 – Do NOT offer an incentive:
I think this is unethical and there are obvious moral issues because you’re essentially bribing your customer for a good review.
Even if you don’t intend your incentive to be a bribe, most people feel compelled to provide good reviews if they’re being compensated for it (without any other potential buyers being aware of it).
If you are going to offer an incentive, you should ask your reviewers to disclose that fact in their reviews. If the review discloses the incentive, not only is there no moral argument, but it’s also not violating any laws.
Tip #4 – Be clear about what you’re looking for:
If you just have one textbox that says “your review,” customers could write about anything, even irrelevant things.
However, if you break down the review into descriptive fields, your reviewers will have a much better idea of what to include:
You can prompt the customer to talk about certain aspects of the product that you believe influence buying decisions (shipping, packaging quality, durability, etc.).
Speaking of great reviews…here’s what’s in them
You can dictate the contents of a review by prompting your customers to think about certain topics.
This is important because most people don’t know what a good review consists of. They’ll often leave reviews like “great product” even though that’s not really very useful.
Instead, you want to prompt them with any (or all) of the following:
- including their background situation
- any special features of the product or buying process
- their overall impression
- would they buy again?
When you send your review request, just tell your customers that they can include any information they’d like. However, they should consider things like…(pick from the above list).
Part #1 – A quick background:
Not everyone buys a product for the same reason or knows as much about a specific type of product as others.
The best reviews include a quick statement about why a customer bought a product. If another potential buyer is in a similar situation, they will automatically become more interested (it resonates with them).
Additionally, any mention of expertise also makes the review more credible (e.g., “I have purchased x types of product”).
Part #2 (optional) – A brief description of product and buying process:
Unless you’re selling your products through a well-known fulfillment service like Amazon, shipping speed and safety are still big concerns for online shoppers.You should obviously make your shipping information very clear on your sales pages.
But people also want to know how fast and secure your shipping is in real life, not just in theory.
If a potential buyer sees multiple reviews praising your shipping process, they’ll feel assured.
Part #3 – The overall result:
The most important part of any purchase is how good the product is. That’s going to be the focal point of any review.
Part #4 – Would you buy again?
Customers can often find at least a few good things to say about a product. Nice people leave nice reviews—it’s that simple.
However, the ultimate test of a great product is if it earns the loyalty of a customer. When customers say that they will definitely buy from you again in the future, anyone reading the review will know that the reviewer is serious when they praise the product:
If you sell anything online, remember that reviews are one of the biggest factors that affect your sales, so don’t ignore them.
First, come up with a plan of attack to determine what type of reviews you need.
Next, optimize your sales funnel to maximize the number of customers who leave you reviews—and not just any reviews, great ones.