From good to bad to
downright malicious —
user reviews vary greatly.
These snippets of unfiltered
opinions offer multiple
benefits to merchants willing
and able to market them
(appropriately). The first
being search engine
optimization, but the list
of opportunities doesn’t
Consumer reviews can also increase audience
engagement and influence other
shoppers’ purchasing decisions. Eddie
Machaalani, co-CEO of Bigcommerce, is a
big believer in their impact.
“Consumer reviews and social proof
have always been one of the most powerful
marketing tools, with some analysts predicting
it’s 33 percent of a consumer’s purchasing
decision,” said Machaalani. “The
reason for this is that product reviews build
trust, and that trust increases conversions.”
There are plenty of ways for merchants
to repurpose this user-generated content
for their benefit and that of their consumers.
While displaying reviews on a
website is definitely useful for consumers
who are already browsing there, merchants should also promote
positive reviews in all of their marketing initiatives to
reach a larger audience, both online and off. The question
becomes how merchants can implement reviews into their
broader marketing efforts.
Few advertising channels can garner a better return on investment
(ROI) than email. Pair a promotional email and
consumer reviews, and it’s a win-win situation. For example,
a merchant who is launching an email campaign to promote
their best-selling Valentine’s Day products could easily
add a favorable consumer review to complement the message.
This not only reminds the subscriber that the holiday
is coming up, but also provides them with gift ideas recommended
by their peers.
One way merchants can implement reviews into their
email campaigns is with the Ratings and Review solution
that Listrak launched earlier this year. Instead of manually
inserting reviews into a message, this solution automatically
incorporates a merchant’s best reviews into
emails, which, according to the company’s CEO, can be
very beneficial for merchants.
“In addition to influencing immediate purchase decisions,
ratings and reviews can result in consumers being
more engaged with the brand, prolonging the customer life
cycle and increasing customer lifetime value,” said Listrak
CEO Ross Kramer.
Email isn’t the only place where merchants can
use reviews to grab their customers’ attention, as usergenerated
content can also be leveraged to engage more
Social Media Marketing
Social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ also
provide merchants opportunities to promote their positive
consumer reviews and acquire new ones.
In fact, chances are that merchants are receiving consumer
reviews on these sites already. If this is the case, they
should make sure to not only engage with these customers
on these networks, but also publicize these reviews when
possible. On Twitter, for example, merchants should
retweet their positive customer feedback, while on Facebook
and Google+, merchants can start a Group or Community
to encourage consumer conversation.
One brand that effectively uses Facebook's Groups to
encourage consumer reviews is Listen to Your Gut, an ecommerce
retailer selling a line of natural stomach care
products. Social proof is important to its business because
holistic products are typically alternative treatments to more
widely used prescription or over-the-counter medicine,
thus less information is available about them. This is why
the company maintains an open Group Page on Facebook,
which is devoted to interacting with, and obtaining reviews
Visually driven social networks, like YouTube, Pinterest
and Instagram, also present opportunities to encourage
audience interactions and promote consumer reviews.
On YouTube, merchants can post videos that show how a
new product works and ask for consumer feedback in the
comments section. By doing this, merchants can increase
product awareness while engaging with their audience.
Businesses can also repurpose the video by
posting it on sites like Facebook and asking
for feedback from that social network’s audience
too. Conversely, merchants can use a
similar strategy by publishing images of new
or popular products on Pinterest, Instagram
or Tumblr and then use these posts to ask for
fan feedback or publicize positive reviews
from shoppers across channels.
Even with all of these tactics, the Web isn’t
the only place where consumer reviews can be
put to good use.
Merchants can integrate user reviews into their
offline marketing strategies to reach a whole
new group of consumers.
An example of a big-named brand that
recently used this tactic is Procter & Gamble.
The company leveraged user reviews
from ExpoTV to create an ad for its Crest
Pro-Health line, which ran in a variety of
magazines (see image). The ad boldly quotes
the reviews, which makes the product more
relatable to potential customers. The ad asks
its audience to submit their own product reviews
Another way brick-and-mortar retailers can
incorporate flattering reviews is through instore
signage, a savvy practice in the age of
smartphone-carrying customers. For example, merchants can
post QR codes next to popular products, which, when
scanned, will take customers directly to consumer reviews
for each specific item.
Once positives reviews have been incorporated into one’s
marketing strategies, one question remains.
What about Negative Reviews?
Merchants are never thrilled to discover a negative review
on their site, but this undesirable user-generated
content is actually good for business — sort of.
While it would not be a good idea to use these reviews
in acquisition initiatives, merchants can gain valuable product
insights from this customer feedback. Machaalani, of Bigcommerce,
suggests that negative reviews can also help boost
a merchant’s credibility.
“Online retailers should think about being as transparent
as possible when it comes to reviews,” said
Machaalani. “Don’t be scared of negative reviews — or
worse, delete them. Studies have shown that shoppers
who read bad reviews convert 67 percent more. Why? Because
when a retailer only displays positive reviews it can
look suspicious or fake. Keep it honest and do your best
to work out your customers’ issues, which could result in
a positive review, too.”