When developing an online reviews platform, capturing consumer sentiment is half the battle. Understanding how to effectively leverage that sentiment to achieve your business objectives is the other half. Consumers are quick to spot the difference between brand selected, carefully curated Testimonials and authentic, unbiased Customer Reviews. By following these guidelines, brands can establish credibility for the reviews on their website, and in doing so, become a resource for consumers that will ultimately lead to online, and offline, sales. According to research from AYTM Market Research, 70% of US internet users sometimes compared prices or read reviews before visiting a brick-and-mortar store, and one-fifth always did.
More reviews = More Credibility
There’s a reason that most E-Commerce sites prominently display the number of
reviews that have been submitted about a product, as well as a quick access guide to see the distribution of positive and negative reviews. More reviews, and more types of reviews from more types of people, equals more credibility.
Stats vary on exactly how many reviews are needed to establish credibility. According to Revoo, a social commerce company, 50 or more reviews per product can lead to a 4.6% increase in conversion rate.
When a Negative Really Isn’t a Negative
Marketers are concerned about what to do when “more reviews” includes negative reviews. Understandable since it goes against every marketing principle to speak negatively about your own products. However, according to Reevoo, bad reviews convert 67% more than the average consumer. While counterintuitive, the underlying principle is that even though the person may or may not buy that exact product, they have confidence in the reviews, and they’re engaged. They will spend the time to read other reviews about the product (hopefully positive,) or will spend the time to look at other products from the manufacturer which they will ultimately purchase. This requires a shift from using your website and other digital channels as a brochure about your products, to a resource for consumers which they will proactively seek out.
Cater To That Engaged Consumer With Multiple Paths
There are many different types of consumers that come to your website, and many different paths they will take. There are those that have an idea of the product or products they are most interested in, and reviews featured on the product page will give them the confidence they are looking for to ultimately make the purchase. Then you have the people that are unsure about exactly which product is right for them, and want to explore the full range of products (or, they may be like the consumer above that read a negative review about one product, and wants to see what’s being said about the others.) For those consumers a centralized reviews gallery prominently placed on the homepage provides quick and easy access to reviews across products. The reviews gallery also serves double duty and creates credibility by conveying that there are a lot of reviews, about a lot of different products, from a lot of different people.
Faces Combat Fakeness
Fraud in online reviews is a big concern. Last year Amazon was caught up in a controversy about the veracity of reviews on their own website, and according to eMarketer data the vast majority of people only trust online reviews “Somewhat,” and 20% trust them “Not Really” or “Not at All.” This is not surprising when many text reviews require no authentication from the person submitting the review, and it’s easy to establish fake profiles in order to post reviews, as was the case on Amazon. However, that dynamic changes significantly when you add photos and video from the submitter. Featuring photos of consumers alongside their review gives confidence and context about the reviewer, and including video with the review shows that the person actually used the product. Interestingly, according to ReelSEO, the presence of video on the page, even if it is not watched, increases conversion rate.
Nobody is going to read or watch 50 reviews about a product, nor should they be expected to. The goal is to create a sense of volume and range of reviews, credibility, and the ability for consumers to dive into a handful of reviews that give a more in-depth picture. Brands can guide consumers through this experience by capturing and displaying a lot of data around their reviews, and making it easy for people to scan through that data. Thumbnails of reviews, overall star rating for the product, individual star rating and a short list of “Pros” and “Cons,” provide a quick sense of overall product opinion, and help consumers choose which reviews they want to see more of.
Give People Something to Do Next
Getting people to read, watch and believe your reviews isn’t helpful if they don’t take action. While there are any number of things that you might want someone to do, here are three you should consider:
- Buy the Product – Whether the person can buy on your own website, other websites like Amazon and Walmart.com or they have to go to the store, make it easy for them to do so. Calls-to-Action alongside the review, such as a Buy Now button, Where to Buy button or even a Coupon will drive immediate action. Companies like Channel Intelligence provide a very effective way to drive consumers from a brand site to eRetailers.
- Share a review – Helpful reviews will be passed along and should include tools to share through Facebook, Twitter, Email, etc.
- Submit a review – People that benefit from reviews are likely to share their own. Make it easy for them to do so right then and there.
Clarity is Key
People are naturally suspicious of online reviews, which is clear from the eMarketer data above. The only way to overcome that is to be upfront. Tell people where the reviews came from – are you embedding them from Walmart.com, YouTube or were they solicited on your own site? Were people incentivized to share their opinion? Are you sharing all reviews are just a subset of your choosing? Telling people will prevent them from assuming the worst.
Cascade is an EXPO client that’s doing all of this right. They are combining text and video reviews, about many products, both in a gallery and product pages.
For more ideas and information about consumer reviews, especially in video, get in touch.
Guest post by: Adam Paul
Adam can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-500-6560