If you recently purchased something online, did a review influence your purchase decision? For most of us, the answer is yes.
Have you shopped online and a lack of reviews for a particular product actually gave you pause or stopped you from buying? We all like to know the opinions of our peers, in this case our fellow buyers.
This is hardly a secret or fresh revelation. Today, I’ll demonstrate exactly how important customer reviews are, and give you some action items that will help you optimize a customer review system for maximum conversion.
Marketers Can’t Ignore Online Product Reviews
Reviews on e-commerce sites have become a critical feature over the past couple years, and they’re becoming even more important now. In an earlier column, I cited Roy Williams on why this word-of-mouth (WOM) feature has become so influential. You ignore WOM at your peril.
Consider dipping into the traditional marketing budget to invest in a customer review system. A review system allows you to let your customers market your products for you. Need more rationale? Consider these facts:
Not All Reviews Are Created Equal
Whether you enable review functionality and consumer-generated content from your e-commerce platform or from a third-party-hosted solution like Power Reviews and Bazaarvoice, it’s important to test and optimize for conversion and persuasion by focusing on the following areas:
- Feature reviews above the fold.
- Make them big enough to be visible.
- Provide a visual representation of the rating (e.g., a star system).
- Situate reviews near a point of attention or action.
- Make reading easy.
- Allow visitors to sort by rating.
- Show how the ratings are distributed on a specific product.
- Place reviews on listings, not just on the product detail page.
- What are the key attributes across different categories? If you sell shoes, for example, provide a rating for different attributes, such as style, comfort, and value.
- Can review content influence purchase decisions? Is there enough feedback in the reviews to allow visitors to compare and make a selection?
- Negative and positive reviews: Negative reviews can actually aid a purchase decision. No product is perfect. They allows visitors to see both product strengths and product weaknesses.
- Approval policy: Do you overmoderate reviews? Do they sound like a pitch? Must reviewers jump through hoops to post a reviews?
- Reviewer characteristics: Can the reviewer be trusted? Is there information to establish the reviewer’s credibility (did he review other products; can reviews be rated)?
- Do you display the number of reviews? Find ways to generate reviews so the database isn’t skinny and inconsistent from product to product.
- What questions do you ask? Would your reviewers buy again?
- Consider whether they’re qualitative or quantitative.
Don’t have a review system yet? What are you waiting for?
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