eCommerce brands thrive when they focus on delivering an exceptional customer experience. One challenge with this, though, is that if you want others to hear about how great you treat your customers, you can’t just shout about it yourself. Rather, you need the word to spread organically. Customer reviews are a powerful tool to make that happen.
Not only are customer reviews an essential part of the decision-making stage of the buyer’s journey, with a whopping 93% of online shoppers saying they read reviews before making a purchase, they’re also a major catalyst at the point of conversion. Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center analyzed more than 100,000 SKUs across 22 product categories to quantify the role reviews play in purchasing decisions, and what they found was startling: namely, a customer was nearly four times as likely to purchase a product displaying five reviews than a product displaying no reviews.
The research clearly shows reviews matter a lot to customers. So how can you leverage them as part of your eCommerce strategy this holiday season? We’ve teamed up with our partners at Okendo, our preferred app for customer reviews, to share five ideas.
1. Use Reviews to Drive More Clicks
Ads that are populated with customer reviews and user-generated content (UGC) generate five times higher click-through rates on average than those without such content.
Furniture and housewares retailer West Elm saw this phenomenon in action when they started adding user-submitted photos to their Facebook ads. Ads pushed out with UGC generated 2.6 times more click-throughs than those without, and the return on ad spend (ROAS) of those ads increased as well.
To get the most bang for your buck with your holiday advertising campaigns, take advantage of the traffic-driving power of UGC by sprinkling customer reviews into your Facebook and Instagram ads and Google Shopping listings.
2. Build Consumer Trust with UGC
Customer reviews are particularly important for higher-priced products, which require more social proof before a user pulls the trigger on a purchase. Use UGC to drive more conversions on big-ticket gifts by building trust at the point of sale.
Premium luggage retailer ROAM Luggage uses Okendo to do this. They began incorporating user reviews into their product listings for their customizable luggage, resulting in a 189% increase in revenue. The payoff was further compounded in the form of lower ad spend--their CPA decreased by 74%.
3. Increase Repeat Purchases
In addition to using reviews to drive first-time purchases, you can leverage them to bring repeat customers back again later, increasing their lifetime value. Finding ways to increase your customers’ lifetime value can make or break your long-term success as a brand.
First, use data from previous reviews to show customers personalized recommendations based on what they’ve loved in the past. With Okendo’s Attributes feature, you can collect data on various product dimensions (comfort, value, quality, etc.) and use that data to enrich your customer profiles for future marketing efforts.
Next, incentivize the feedback process by offering rewards, like points or a discount code, to shoppers who complete a review. Then, later, send follow-up campaigns reminding them to come back and redeem their rewards on another purchase.
4. Recover Abandoned Carts
Abandoned cart campaigns are one of our favorite “low-hanging fruit” tactics for increasing revenue. On their own, they help merchants recover anywhere from 3% to 15% of abandoned carts. You can supercharge the effectiveness of your abandoned cart emails even further by combining them with customer reviews.
Using Okendo’s new Klaviyo integration, you can automatically sync your abandoned cart emails with customer reviews for the abandoned products to drive more clicks and encourage conversion. The best part? There’s no additional effort on your behalf--it’s all automated thanks to these convenient apps.
5. Minimize Returns
We’ve covered several ways to use reviews to drive more purchases, but that’s not the only way to improve your margins. Returns eat into your bottom line, so anything you can do to cut down on them will be a boon for your revenue.
Use customer reviews embedded on the product page to provide key product insights that clear up confusion and answer frequently asked questions. These elements help customers shop with confidence and avoid purchasing mistakes that can contribute to returns and bog down your customer service team during the busiest time of year.
A Note About Negative Reviews
With so much talk about showcasing your positive customer reviews, it’s worth spending a moment touching on negative reviews and how they affect your conversions, because it’s not as simple as you might expect.
The Spiegel Research Center survey we mentioned earlier had some surprising findings about specific star ratings and purchase likelihood. They discovered there’s a ceiling when it comes to how much positive reviews influence purchase behavior, and it peaks around 4.7 stars. In other words, as the star rating approaches a perfect five-star score, purchase likelihood falls off. The thinking is that savvy shoppers see a product with a flawless rating as “too good to be true.”
Instead, the researchers found that the highest purchase likelihood happened when a product’s rating fell within a magic range between 4.2 and 4.7 stars, and that in many cases, shoppers saw listings with a handful of negative reviews as being more credible than their perfectly rated counterparts. The takeaway is that a few negative reviews among mostly positive ones aren’t something to panic over--in fact, they can actually be useful in their own right for building credibility and helping boost your brand’s authenticity.
Are customer reviews part of your eCommerce marketing strategy? If not, schedule a consultation with us today and let’s talk about how you can start capitalizing on their enormous conversion-driving power.
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