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 pauses 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 customers 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:
· According to JupiterResearch, 77 percent of online shoppers use reviews and ratings when purchasing.
· Reviews drive 21 percent higher purchase satisfaction and 18 percent higher loyalty, according to Foresee Results.
· In a study of 2,000 shoppers, 92 percent deemed customer reviews as “extremely” or “very” helpful, finds eTailing Group.
· BizRate found 59 percent of users considered customer reviews to be more valuable than expert reviews.
· In a CompUSA-iPerceptions study, 63 percent of consumers indicated they’re more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews.
· 86.9 percent of respondents said they’d trust a friend’s recommendation over a critic’s review, while 83.8 percent said they’d trust user reviews over a critic, according to Marketing Sherpa.
· 92.5 percent of adults said they regularly or occasionally research products online before buying in a store, found BIG research.
· According to Keller Fay, 63 percent of all WOM is positive. Across all Bazaar voice clients, 80 percent of products rate 4 or 5 stars out of 5.
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 Bazaar voice, it’s important to test and optimize for conversion and persuasion by focusing on the following areas:
· Review visibility:
· 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.
· Review interaction:
· 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.
· Single versus Multidimensional reviews:
· 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?
· Credibility factors:
· Negative and positive reviews: Negative reviews can actually aid a purchase decision. No product is perfect. They allow 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 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)?
· Review meaning:
· 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.