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Why Reviews Matter in Driving Traffic for Successful E-Commerce

There's a lot of talk about the changing sales and online marketing landscape. But this evolution is driven by one important factor: the customer. If you are thinking about providing e-Commerce fulfillment services or have one now, you need to understand the growing influence of reviews. 

Reviews matter because they can increase your sales without price cutting, discounts, and coupons while also improving your brand trustworthiness

The way people buy products and services using outdoor industry brands e-Commerce sites has dramatically changed over the years, and these days, the customer has more power than ever. To understand more about what influences today's customer, the folks at BigCommerce analyzed a range of e-commerce sites to give us a broader understanding of what people value when shopping online.

Online Reviews Generate Brand Trust And Increase Conversion Rates

Reviews are made by real people, in the real world, who have physically experienced the service away from their computer screen. Customer reviews can help answer questions that other sources cannot, such as the service reliability, quality, value and life endurance.

Customer reviews from peers are the most trusted source of information online; must more valuable than professional endorsement and anything the brand may say. Customer reviews are now an established part of the online journey. It's commonplace to see e-commerce websites boasting customer reviews to the extent that a website with no reviews seems strange.

A Complete Guide to Outdoor Industry Brands e-Commerce

Research shows the power of customer reviews

Testimonials and product reviews can be one of your greatest sales tools. Over 70% of consumers say they look at product reviews before making a purchase and nearly 68% indicate they are more likely to buy from a site that has trustworthy product ratings and reviews. Social proof can reassure hesitant shoppers, provide additional context and reduce returns by ensuring buyers are satisfied with their purchase.

Factors influencing American online shopping decisions

Original bar graph provided by BigCommerce

But even as the public relies heavily on online reviews when making purchases, many Americans express concerns over whether or not these reviews can be trusted. Roughly half of those who read online reviews (51%) say that they generally paint an accurate picture of the products or businesses in question, but a similar share (48%) say it’s often hard to tell if online reviews are truthful and unbiased.

50 stats about the power of online reviews

Infographic courtesy of Vendasta

Here's a checklist of 10 ways to obtain and improve the influence your online reviews have for your e-Commerce site

  1. Start by remembering to just ask! If you don't ask customers for a review they are unlikely to provide one. In research conducted by BrightLocal, if asked, approximately 71% of consumers will leave a review for a business. This reinforces the need for every business to have a reputation marketing strategy.
  2. Exercise caution and patience in asking for reviews. Too many reviews acquired within a short time frame can look suspicious, meaning those reviews could end up getting flagged and filtered out on the review platform. Ask your customers for reviews after each individual purchase. If you choose to ask for reviews through a "group contact" process do it gradually over time, and don’t overdo it.
  3. Make your reviews count! Align your reviews close to your products and services that you are having reviewed so the potential customer can readily access them.
  4. Consider sending an email to customers after they make a purchase. You’re most likely to get a review when the purchase is still top of mind. Consider automating this process as it will make it easy for you and your customers. 
  5. Don't hold back on contacting those who write really glowing reviews and thank them. 
  6. Contact those who leave you negative reviews. Ignoring these won’t make them go away. Respond to negative reviews in a neutral manner, especially if you think the reviewer is justified in their complaint or other customers have complained about the same issue. Take this opportunity to learn from your clients and improve your business.
  7. Before going to market with a product, bringing together a focus group is an essential step for gathering feedback. Once you've got that data then publish it, write a blog post about it and share your findings.
  8. Make it as easy as possible for customers to get in touch with you. Ensure that customer service numbers and your company's contact information are easy to find. If a customer says anything positive ask for permission to replicate it on your website.
  9. Link to external reviews from your website. If you take the best reviews you can find and link to them, it makes customers feel great and other people may then write about you in order to get similar coverage.
  10.  'Borrow' reviewers like Amazon. Amazon, rather handily, lists their top reviewers and many of them have listed their email addresses here. You can browse this list, find relevant reviewers and ask them to cover your product. Alternatively, find a competitor's product, look at the reviewers, and approach them to review your product. This works for lots of other e-commerce sites too. 

Cutomer Reviews Also Improve Your SEO and Ease of Search

According to Shopify research, 

"Product reviews aren’t beneficial only for conversion. They can also drive traffic by increasing SEO and up-sell and cross-sell additional products to both existing and potential customer cohorts.

It's time to take a good look at the "reviewer" component of your business strategy. You will want to make sure you use your product reviews across the advertising you use across the web. This concept is not new, Best Buy began doing it in 2008.

Following this path, you will experience these kinds of improvements.

  • Increasing review volume leads to higher conversion rates – even at high volume levels: 50 or more reviews per product can mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates.
  • Improved rankings for 'Product' + Review you will stand a better chance of picking up organic search traffic if your products have reviews that can be found by a visitor searching a particular plus the word 'review' (or another related word such as 'ratings'). 
  • Fresh, product-specific review content drives search traffic and keyword rankings, specifically when a business earns 10 or more reviews –– resulting in 15-20% increase in search traffic.
  • 3- and 4-star reviews contain 2x as many product suggestions as others –– informing brands of products that work, and which do not."
  • Increased click-through  snippets. If a review content is correctly formatted, the rich snippets will help to increase click-throughs from search engine results pages. According to Distilled, these rich snippets can produce a 10-20% increase click-through rate. Reviews help with search engine rankings, but ultimately increase the chance of a click through resulting in a conversion.

Since you want your website to be your best salesman in the digital space, you want this digital salesperson to have the support of lots of online reviews, testimonials, recommendations, video reviews, etc. This type of support will turn your e-Commerce website into a powerhouse for driving leads, conversions, sales and directly contribute to your bottom line.  

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