How important is it to get customer reviews? Allow us to illustrate an example.
Say you pass two food trucks: Food Truck A and Food Truck B. Both serve Tortillas, Cuban sandwiches, Plátanos, Arroz con Pollo, and Tacos, of course.
Both look clean and hygienic, have friendly chefs at the back, have an attractive menu on the board, and offer the same things at more or less the same prices.
There’s just one difference: A has attracted a pretty big crowd whereas B doesn't have a single customer as yet.
Which one would you choose to go to?
If you picked A, you’ve just made the decision due to the phenomenon called Social Proof.
Social Proof is gold
Social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon in which people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior in a given situation. To put it simply, it’s when people are positively influenced by others’ actions and go on to imitate those actions.
Coined in 1984 by Robert Cialdini, social proof is quickly becoming the driving force of consumer behavior.
And one of the most effective tools to build social proof for your eCommerce business is customer reviews.
Ratings and reviews both go hand-in-hand and though the golden stars do a lot of talking, reviews that carry a detailed personal account of the customer’s experiences are immensely powerful and make quite an impression on people.
“If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they will do business with you.” – Zig Ziglar
According to a BrightLocal survey, at least 72% of consumers have written a review for a local business (it was 66% in 2019).
Moral of the story? All you have to do is ask.
The question is how.
Dig into these proven, time-tested strategies that have helped some of the best eCommerce brands encourage customers to write relevant, growth-friendly reviews for their website.
Let’s dive in!
1. Ask nicely (don't push)
Let’s face it — your need to receive a customer review is more than their need to give one. Unless, of course, they’re really really happy or disappointed — in which case, a nudge isn’t really required.
But to get them to step away from their busy schedule for a minute and leave you a review, you may sometimes need to give them an offer they cannot refuse.
On average, stores can increase their submission rate by up to 18.5% by using subject lines with words like “coupon,” “discount,” and “save”.
Check out how Moosejaw, online outdoor recreation apparel and gear store does it.
They offer a $10 coupon for taking the survey — basically a $10 off on the total bill.
Plus, the item discounted by the survey coupon code will earn 2.5% back in Moosejaw Reward Dollars.
Incentivized reviews can be perceived in poor light, but if you have an endearing way of putting forward an offer for a review, it might not be the same.
Check out how Boden urges the customer to give an honest opinion even though they make a tempting offer in return.
The headline at the top: ‘You Know Best’ puts the customers’ interest under the spotlight. Genius!
2. Tell them it's low-effort
Customers generally avoid reviews because of 3 main reasons:
a) They forget
b) They aren't sure of where or how to leave a review
c) They don’t have the time
A post-purchase email scheduled 1–2 days after the purchase is a great way to mitigate these barriers in the following ways:
a) The experience is recent and fresh in the customers’ minds
b) A bold and direct CTA will let them know where they need to go to leave a review
c) And lastly, telling them exactly how much time they’ll need to spend to leave a review will just eliminate any apprehensions about the time needed to write a review
Take this example.
Check out the CTA. The bright red text against the green background is tough to miss. Moreover, it tells the customer the exact time it'll take to share the review and what incentive awaits them in return for it.
The ‘Let’s Begin’ CTA text also gives a very peppy vibe to start writing a review.
BTW: In case you're looking to learn how to do really cool CTAs — the ones that convert really well — here's a guide.
3. Don't be in a rush
There are some brands that don’t mind the wait. Bellroy asks for a product review 30 days after purchase. Checking in after 30 days reassures consumers that the brand is committed to customer service.
Let’s pause here for a moment and look at product reviews specifically. The eCommerce race, as you know, is quite a close one and if you want to win it by a bigger margin each time, you’ll have to give product reviews special consideration.
35% of consumers begin their purchasing journey on a search engine.
Customer reviews carry relevant keywords that are reflected in the search queries of online shoppers. The more product reviews your site or your Amazon Page carries, the more are the chances of you reaching the peaks of a Google Page.
Lush is a handmade cosmetic brand and rank right on top here when keywords “shower scrub that smells good’ are typed in.
Remember: Customer reviews with search queries must include simple language and not marketing jargon, so search results can pull up the reviews and links which take the customer straight to the product page.
Moving on, you’ll see some good examples of brands asking for product reviews.
4. Engage them
A question is a quick attention-grabber. Casper does it well by starting off with a casual ‘So, How Did You Sleep’.
It’s friendly, clear, and personal. Instead of a plain ‘Leave a review on your recent purchase’ they’ve nudged the customer to share their personal experience with Casper Sheets. Also, check they’ve managed to squeeze in their rewards system too at the bottom.
An open-ended question such as this is always a win-win. Check this example from Target and you'll know.
Know what's a plus in this email? The star rating system. The customers can rate the product without even leaving the email.
5. Ditch the blank text box
Stars are better than just a blank text box which not many will be eager to fill judiciously. The star rating system is a quick and to-the-point system of feedback. But slowly, it's losing its sheen.
Brands are looking for more detailed and valuable feedback.
It bodes well for users who’ve had extreme experiences (either very good or very bad). Users with average experiences find it difficult to map it out with just stars.
Many eCommerce brands are now adding the option to write a review as well.
Like how Society 6, an online home decor store, has done here:
They’ve managed to squeeze in their rewards system too at the bottom.
6. Use the evergreen NPS
This is a tool that tells you whether the customer is likely to recommend your brand or not, and it’s quickly becoming popular among e-commerce brands.
Customers will not always want to invest their time and mind space filling a survey or giving feedback. In such cases you can use NPS — using the NPS at the right time in the customer’s journey is important.
For example, this pops up on the Masterclass Online Classes site after the user has completed one of its courses. The timing is perfect — the course is fresh on the user’s mind and the user too will not need to spend too much time making a decision.
“It’s not the score that matters, it’s what you do with it to make Promoters that really count”. — Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company
NPS as a stand-alone metric doesn't really add much value, especially in eCommerce. For example, the customers may like the product but may have problems regarding shipping.
If you want the whole picture, try using NPS along with another feedback tool.
Hotjar, a behavior analytics tool, gives them the option to write a bit more about their customer experience.
Pro Tip: Remember to compare your NPS with companies within your industry. If you sell shoes online and have an NPS score (calculated on 100) of 29 whereas a cosmetic retailer has a score of 80, it doesn't mean the latter is doing better than you.
Compare your score with your direct competitors or other online shoe retailers and that will give you a better understanding. You never know — your score might be higher than many in your industry.
7. Don't forget social
Your website should not be the only place where customers can review your products.
Make sure you have enough presence on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Share reviews actively on these platforms and reply to reviews as promptly as you can.
It’s more likely that your customers frequent Facebook or other social media channels more than your website.
Third-party sites are also great places to monitor reviews.
Google, Yelp, Angel’s List, Trip Advisor (for hotels, restaurants). If you’re asking for reviews across platforms, make sure your request is as integrated as possible.
Take this example from SiteGround.
When a customer clicks on 'Submit a review', it takes them directly to Yelp, where the reviews are shared publicly.
8. Try fun copy, even in surveys
When customers write a review, they may not always touch base with every aspect. They'll generally focus on what worked or didn’t work for them. Surveys help cover all the angles. List down all those questions which will give you and your customers the chance to portray the bigger picture.
Bonobos is an apparel brand; they use fun, clear, and simple copy. They don’t shy away from telling you it’s a 10-minute survey.
Plus, they even hint at the inclusive format of questioning which reassures people that every voice is heard.
Surveys are also great to get a more articulate understanding of how a new product or feature has been received.
9. Give them a reason to like you
Customer service usually is an ‘after the purchase’ concept, but if you can earn some more brownie points by enhancing customer experience before or during the purchase — then why not?
In a Forrester study, 44% of online shoppers said that having their product questions answered during their shopping session is important.
A live chat is one of the best ways to get a headstart on the buyer’s intent & expectation.
Ruffwear does this well.
Notice how the chatbot pops up while the visitor browses the boot size guide. This timely intervention just makes the buying process easier & valuable.
10. Be super nice to negative comments
Don’t sweep away negative reviews under the rug. Instead, see them as a chance to clean up your act, fill in the gaps — and eventually garner more reviews and sales.
Negative reviews can also give customers a realistic picture of the product/brand. They know what to expect and so, there won't be any surprises there.
Pro Tip: One negative review about a product might unravel something positive for another.
While some may critique the product due to its similarity to a competitor brand, others might see the similarity as a plus.
11. Make positive reviews famous
It’s always great to share positive reviews — it’s not just a boost for sales but it encourages other customers to write a review. Plus, you can use such posts to ask for feedback too.
Amazon shares a positive review on Alexa and in the post. It talks about the different contexts in which Alexa can be a helpful friend. In such posts, you can urge customers to share their relationship or experience with the product.
12. Be bold
Why wait for customers to leave a review when you can leave them one and get the ball rolling? If you’re a brand that can view customer profiles, go ahead and make their day. They’ll leave you one which will make yours — quid pro quo. You could even recommend them on LinkedIn.
13. Keep it personal
A name goes a long way. ‘Hi, Matthew’ is any day better than ‘Dear Valued Customer’. Personalized emails just indicate how interested you are to get customer feedback. The personal touch increases your chance to obtain feedback.
Check out how Airbnb does it. Don't miss the ‘sharing is caring’ idea that they include indicating how the feedback will be helpful to other guests too.
14. Have famous people review you
Collaborate with an iconic personality who uses your products and will be happy to write a detailed account about his or her experience with the brand. Apart from adding credibility to your brand, it will encourage others to go ahead and write more detailed reviews about their experience with the brand.
J Crew collaborated with Melanie Elturk, fashion blogger and CEO of HauteHijab, an online Hijab store on a #weartowork campaign, where she wrote them an awesome review!
Check out how the review has a very storytelling vibe to it. Neat!
15. Host a contest
User-generated content in the form of photos and videos increase engagement, attract more customers, and encourage people to share their experience with the brand.
L.L. Bean, online apparel and outdoor recreation equipment hosts an online contest every year that lasts from January to December. Customers are invited to share photos of enjoying the outdoors with friends, families, or pets. They are asked to share them with the relevant hashtag like #llbean19 or #llbean20. At the end of the year, judges select the 12 best photos and offer a gift card.
Pro Tip: Consider highlighting these photos on the homepage of your site. This will further encourage shoppers to participate in the campaign.
Also, this way, you don’t restrict your UGC content to your social media channels. Cluse, an online watch, and jewelry brand does this well.