The Hidden Value of Product Reviews

Rob Gonzalez
by Rob Gonzalez 08 Mar, 2017

Reviews hold more value than meets the eye: they are a vehicle for significant (and free!) market research. Product reviews provide insight into the real, unfiltered language your customers use when they discuss your brand. It's well know that product reviews are a substantial factor in getting your customers to hit the buy button. Eighty-two percent of consumers want to see at least three product reviews whenever they're shopping, according to our consumer research.

Here are four unexpected ways to take advantage of product review content:

Improve your products. Customers are typically very honest when writing reviews, delivering a direct line into the minds of consumers. With this type of insight, reviews can be seen not just as a useful market research tool, but also as a pristine way to learn more about your customers. For example, manufacturer 3M takes a look at customer reviews when they are developing new products and going through product iteration. This company has been able to use customer feedback as part of its internal product development cycle in addition to fine-tuning products in specific markets. While you may not be looking to revamp how you bring products to market, it's likely you are keeping a close eye on your product's ratings, and reviews offer a simple way to accomplish this while providing actionable information for product enhancements.

Check your language. The reviews on your site come from real people and often use certain terms or spelling that your marketing team doesn't. Scour your product reviews for new terminology. Don't be afraid to incorporate your customers' language into your product content and marketing material (e.g., videos, social posts) to improve the performance of your initiatives over time. An additional benefit is the impact this has on SEO (after all, consumers search using THEIR words, NOT yours), and has proven incredibly successful for one Fortune 100 consumer products manufacturer, and other experiments with this technique have resulted in double-digit conversion increases. That's a significant boost and validates the value of leveraging reviews in new ways.

Look for real-life examples of your product in use. Reviews are the ultimate user-generated content and coupled with lifestyle images, they're the complete package. Reach out to your top reviewers as well as brand fans to ask for lifestyle images they've created and incorporate them into product detail pages and other assets. By sourcing content from your best reviewers, you can better understand how your products are meeting needs on a daily basis and use this data to reach new audiences and further appeal to existing ones.

Embrace negative feedback. There's much to be learned from a negative review. Ratings of all kinds help shed light on a bigger picture. If your product is consistently getting negative reviews, it's clearly time to explore where the disconnect lies: maybe you are marketing to the wrong audience and getting poor product reviews as a result. Or conversely, is there a segment of your review-writing customers that don't line up with your anticipated demographics? Take a look at who is saying what and share those insights with your sales team to better position your products.

Reviews provide a wealth of data and is so easily accessed. Encourage your ecommerce and marketing teams to view product reviews as free, honest market research. When used effectively, product reviews can go beyond simply improving your product page conversion rates. Listen to reviewer feedback and use their words and images to enhance your product content, influence product development, sharpen your marketing strategy and ultimately, transform your bottom line.

About the Author

Rob Gonzalez is the co-founder and vice president of Salsify. Its consumer research on this subject can be found here