There are many great products out there, but similar products are usually available from more than one ecommerce store.

Separating your offer from the competition is becoming increasingly tough. Why should the consumer buy from you?

Marketers have loads of ways to attract buyer interest and move them toward a buying decision, but one of the most powerful tools at your disposal comes from your customers themselves: positive reviews.

Research suggests up to 70% of all consumers refer to reviews before purchasing and state the content of those reviews influences their decision to buy.

So why exactly do reviews have such an outsized impact on the purchasing decisions and how can you leverage this to increase sales? 

Let’s take a look at how you can make reviews work for you. 

Social Proof and FOMO

Social proof, in particular, the ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO) is a powerful force that gives power to customer reviews on ecommerce sites.

When a large number of people around you are talking about, using, or positively reacting to something, you naturally want to join the crowd. 

Have you ever been convinced to watch a new series on Netflix because everyone you know is talking about it? This is social proof and specifically FOMO in action.

The same effect can be created for products sold online by using positive customer reviews. Showing a large number of positive reviews, or showcasing glowing customer testimonials endorses your product with the experiences of happy customers.

There is no set number of reviews needed to provide social proof, because it will vary from person to person and product to product. The only surefire way to tap into the potential of FOMO is to get as many positive reviews as possible!

Reviews Provide Trust and Credibility

Although consumers are placing an increasing level of trust in online services, this is mostly confined to large ecommerce companies and well known brands.

If you have a smaller store, or lesser-known product, convincing buyers to click ‘buy’ can be tough. 

Reviews play a massive part in building the trust and credibility needed to turn browsers into buyers.

70% of online shoppers consult 6 or more reviews and it is during this browsing they begin building trust in your brand. Despite all of your best marketing efforts, it is the views of your existing customers that matter most.

This likely comes from the fact that consumers see reviews as unbiased, whereas your marketing materials could be viewed with suspicion.

Needing good reviews to get sales does present a ‘chicken and egg’ problem and getting those first reviews is the hardest part. Once you reach a critical mass, your products might quite literally sell themselves.

User-Generated Content Improves Rankings

One benefit of reviews that is not given nearly enough attention is the boost in search rankings they can give to your ecommerce site.

Google considers a number of factors when ranking your site, including the depth of relevant content on the page, key terms, bounce rates, frequency of content updates and other metrics. 

Reviews help improve your standing with the search algorithm on a number of fronts. They often increase your keyword density and provide more content for browsers to read. In turn, the amount of time spent on your page goes up and your bounce rates go down.

Most importantly, reviews count as user-generated material which is ranked highly and counts as an update to the page, which keeps them indexed.

Investing some time and resources into getting more reviews on your products can be a cost-effective way to boost your SEO strategy.

Feedback Helps You Improve

The importance of feedback doesn’t stop with improving customer confidence. It can also help you to further develop your product offering.

You might not be lucky enough to get glowing reviews right from the beginning, but this is not necessarily a reason to panic.

Many negative reviews contain constructive and easy to action points. This can help you improve your product and prevent future customers from having bad experiences. You will commonly see problems with shipping, quality or packaging brought up and all of these are easily fixed.

Responding quickly to customer criticism also shows you care and further boosts confidence in your brand. On most platforms, this can be done by replying directly to the review, so your response is public.

Spending just a little time reading and responding to negative reviews can help you turn a negative situation into a learning opportunity and showcases your commitment to customer service.

Getting More Reviews 

The entire strategy of using reviews to boost confidence in your ecommerce store relies on getting those great reviews in the first place. The big question is, how can you encourage your customers to leave reviews?

Here are a few proven ways of getting reviews:

1. Ask

The number one thing you can do to encourage reviews is to make it easy! Any extra step you place in the way of reviewers, like logging in, or making an account, will reduce your total number of reviews.

You do need to strike a balance between getting spam or nonsense reviews and keeping the process simple. Tend towards simplicity, even if it needs a bit of extra work, because the benefits far outweigh this minor inconvenience.

2. Coupons and Discounts

The simplest way to get a review is to ask. Who would have thought it?

It is common practice to follow up with customers after their purchase. This is as a way of putting them back into a sales funnel for another product that you offer, or an upgrade/addition to the one they have just received.

Make the request for a review a part of your retargeting funnel. The timing of your request is key though. 

You must give enough time for the buyer to evaluate the product, but don’t wait too long, or they will have possibly forgotten the purchase or no longer care enough to leave a review.

3. Keep it Simple

To get a higher conversion rate on your review requests, you can offer a coupon or discount on future purchases.

Offering this coupon in requests to existing buyers can be doubly effective, as it tends to encourage a higher percentage of positive reviews. Those enticed by a discount on your products are likely to be considering a future purchase from you, indicating they are happy with their existing product to some degree.

Before putting a discount or coupon in your review request emails, fully consider the cost and impact as you do not want costs to spiral out of control.

Build Your Reviews

Positive reviews are the mass of small wins that build up a base of trust in your product and brand online.

While it can be an uphill battle to get reviews in the beginning, once you have a large number of reviews your products will just about sell themselves.

A small investment of time and resources into ask and incentivizing customer reviews will pay dividends in the future and set your ecommerce business up for long term success.