The online marketplace is only getting stronger. In fact, according to Salsify, 43% of all consumers expect to shop online more heading out of the pandemic than they did before. It’s a significant moment for e-commerce, but more than that - it’s a crucial moment for e-commerce reviews. With more consumers shopping online than ever before, product reviews have begun to replace brick-and-mortar employees and word-of-mouth advice as the primary driving forces behind purchase decisions. That’s made them an ever-increasing commodity and has even led to a rise in companies providing floods of fake product reviews for profit. But honest, quality e-commerce reviews are the only metric that really matters. Below, we’ve outlined three important secrets to getting them for your brand and all the benefits they possess.
Allocate 20-25% Of Your Marketing Budget To Reviews & Integrate With Social Media
As we said above, reviews are the number one most-desired element that consumers need in order to make a purchase. This also makes them your single most crucial marketing strategy. When planning your annual marketing budget, make sure they’re front and center in your plans. This doesn’t mean putting all your eggs in one basket, however. Allocate approximately 20-25% of your marketing budget to managing and growing organic, user-generated reviews. The rest of the budget should go to tried-and-true mainstays: Billboards, tv ads, trade shows, banner ads, and especially social media marketing can all play integral roles in promoting your product.
Regarding social media marketing, there’s ample opportunity to merge strategies. When you post to Instagram, Twitter, or especially Facebook, the responses you get might as well fall under product review management. The same concern and care you’d take to responding to product reviews through specific review sites or your product pages should be applied when communicating with users through your social media pages.
Primarily, managing product reviews and comments/responses on your product’s social media involves one major task - monitoring and responding to reviews and comments, especially the negative ones. According to Entrepreneur.com, 33% of customers change a negative product review to a more positive one after the business responds, while 34% delete the negative review. But responding to positive reviews comes with its rewards, too, namely, encouraging more of them. In BrightLocal’s 2020 Consumer Review Survey, 89% of e-commerce consumers admit to reading a business’ responses either way. It’s a solid incentive to stay on top of your reviews - no matter which channel they’re coming from.
Designing a protocol for monitoring and responding to comments might be the job of your social media manager. Still, it’s a protocol that has to link up with the one you’ve also created to manage product reviews elsewhere. On top of that, the protocol for encouraging (without bribing for) positive reviews to begin with should also be synched with your social media strategy.
The pairing of a product review and social media strategy can initially seem challenging. Still, it is ultimately a great opportunity for saving money: work the set-up cost of your product review protocols into the budget (including employee salary), then have your social team maintain maintenance on their end. Whatever money you allocate towards product reviews can be applied to purposes other than social media review management. Some of those other purposes are outlined in the very next section.
Numbers Matter, But Be Strategic About Your First 100-200 Reviews
More reviews mean more attention, no matter how flashy your product might be. In a recent study by Psychological Science, researchers found that given near-identical ratings of two products, consumers will almost always opt to buy the one with more reviews (even if it’s rated slightly lower). So when launching your product, go big or go home. Aim for 100-200 reviews right out of the gate, but be careful about how you gather them.
The first 100-200 reviews of your product are vital and help set the tone for how it’s going to be perceived in the marketplace. They’re also where a sizable portion of your product review budget should be spent. Of course, there are correct and incorrect ways of doing that: it bears repeating that buying fake reviews is a swift way to sabotage your product before it ever takes off, along with a host of potential legal dangers. According to Review42, 95% of all e-commerce consumers believe your reviews are fake if they’re all positive - and 89% of consumers aged 18-34 believe they’ve seen fakes posted. The telltale signs of fake reviews across all sites - from Google to Amazon to even social media platforms like Facebook - include underdeveloped profiles attached to the words, bland and vague descriptions of the product itself, and oddly-formatted grammar that looks rushed. No service exists that delivers fake reviews circumventing all these telltale signs, and few, if any, even give you the option to toss a few negative reviews in to switch up the scent for suspicious consumers.
Reviews don’t generally write themselves in bulk, either, though. Instead, many companies turn to legal product review providers that encourage reviews through other means. BazaarVoice, Revioly, and Yotpo are all well-known providers in the marketplace, and each has a unique structure to incentivize their users to leave reviews:
Bazaarvoice is based on a product giveaway model - namely, one where you ship your product to its users for free. These users are then obligated to write a review for your free product. To put it more simply, it’s a review-per-free-product platform from the consumers’ perspective.
Yotpo is built as a freemium platform, with more than 9000 customers paying for services and a further 280,000 customers on its free-usage tier. The business model is pretty similar to Bazaarvoice, meaning you will end up giving away lots of your product to incentivize its users.
Revioly utilizes a different approach to incentivize online shoppers to review your product. You, as a brand, list your product on Revioly’s marketplace for free, and their users buy that product through your preferred website - whether that’s Walmart, Target, your own homepage, or anywhere at full price. They then get rebates from Revioly after leaving a descriptive review for your product. Through Revioly, brands end up paying a percentage of their MSRP instead of giving the whole product away for free.
A Quantity Of Quality
So yes, getting a lot of honest, reliable product reviews is an important way to stand out quickly. But quality also matters. If the goal is to find your new product’s unit economics, a mere 30-50 reviews will get you there. With that many reviews, you can even take the first few steps toward your product’s overall success. But the reality is a product with 50 reviews still can’t compete with a product that has 1000+ reviews.
Even if the rating is slightly lower, consumers will still choose a massively-reviewed product over yours. Take a glance at any major retailer’s subcategories or even sub-subcategories, and you’ll see at least a few products with well over 1000 reviews. So how do you break through? It all goes back to those first 100-200 reviews. Studies show that a product needs at least 100-200 reviews to make the shopper ignore this disparity. On top of that, any product with 100-200 reviews has the potential to turn into an instant, cash-printing machine - with shoppers finding it all on their own; no need for advertising. Customer Acquisition Cost tends to drop dramatically when a product has over 200 reviews.
The catch, of course, with those 200 reviews is they have to be quality ones. What makes a review a quality one? Easy - they’re genuinely helpful to the consumer. This means being descriptive about the product and the reviewer’s experience with it. A simple “Wow, I loved this” review might conjure a happy feeling, but it doesn’t say anything and, in fact, often triggers those feelings of fakeness listed above. Product review providers like Amazon Vine and Bazaarvoice provide large sums of product reviews that sound a whole lot like that, throwing into question whether they were worth the purchase.
According to Fan & Fuel, 73% of e-commerce consumers value a written review over stars or a number rating. It’s an important statistic that reinforces this section’s point: you might buy a lot of authentic product reviews, but without substantive details, they won’t feel authentic, and your intended audience will be reading them.
If you’d like further confirmation that the actual content of your reviews matters, consider the ultimate authority - Google, whose algorithm prioritizes descriptive reviews. To again use the example of Revioly, their patented system is tailor-made for this algorithm, as it guides e-commerce reviewers to review different aspects of a product instead of just vaguely reviewing the product at large. This results in the kinds of reviews Google ranks a whole lot higher than “I love it!”, giving you a significant advantage over much of the competition. Finally, when deciding on a product review provider, consider one that prioritizes user-generated content (or UGC, as it’s commonly known). In addition to all-around favorite Revioly, Yotpo also encourages UGC from its product reviewers. UGC commonly translates to pics and videos that highlight the descriptions and add eye-popping visuals to the words. According to Crowdriff, Millennials say UGC makes a product 35% more memorable. That’s a quality boost that’s too important to ignore.
Product reviews remain the metric that matters most and the quickest way to get your product in front of the audience you want to buy it from, but how you go about doing that is just as important as the review itself. Allocate a sizable portion of your marketing budget to growing them, and use a service that helps them grow quickly but never sacrifices quality for quantity. In your quest to grow product reviews, you’ve already lost if you ditch everything that makes them so valuable to begin with - namely, helping your audience understand precisely what it does and why they should also want to buy it. Focusing on quality, it’s a win-win for you and your customers - they’ll learn more, and your loyalty (and sales) will likely skyrocket. In other words, remember your audience, and your audience will remember you.
Download the eBook through the file below