By Kira Renee
Online reviews have become the modern word of mouth. In fact, research suggests that 95 percent of consumers, seeking information, and assurance, read online reviews before making purchasing decisions. Moreover, 58 percent of shoppers would be willing to pay more for products after reading positive reviews.
This research confirms online reviews as a cornerstone in shaping consumer behavior in today’s e-commerce landscape. Because competitors are always a quick search away, brands must do everything they can to establish trust and credibility. Customer reviews offer a way to achieve that goal, but actually securing reviews can prove challenging—a challenge that’s important for your business to meet and solve.
The Power of Customer Reviews
Customer reviews are feedback or opinions shoppers share about a product or service. These can be star ratings, text reviews, video testimonials, and/or photos showing the product and their experiences with it. Different types of customer reviews have different purposes. For example, a star rating can catch a shopper's attention and make them want to read longer reviews before deciding to buy something.
According to the Harvard Business Review, online reviews impact as much as $3.8 trillion in revenues around the world. Reviews provide a window into genuine customer experiences, allowing prospective buyers to make informed decisions. Positive reviews bolster a brand’s image; constructive criticism showcases its authenticity. Reviews are like a report card for a brand. They show what the company is good at and what it needs to work on.
Satisfied customers potentially become brand advocates—and online reviews offer a means to share that advocacy by building trust and influencing future customers.
When brands encourage customers to write reviews and proudly display them on their digital properties, attracting and retaining customers becomes that much easier. The subsequent cycle of customer satisfaction and review generation helps e-commerce companies enhance their reputations, attract new customers, and, ultimately, foster long-term success in a crowded and competitive digital marketplace.
Strategies for Earning a Positive Customer Review
Building the foundation of a positive customer review means delivering an outstanding customer experience before asking for the review. Consider these strategies to impress customers into wanting to sing your praises:
- Provide transparent and detailed product information on your website to effectively manage customer expectations. In other words, no surprises other than how extra happy your customers will be when using your product or service.
- Offer personalized recommendations based on customer preferences and purchase history. This enhances the customer experience, as if you already know how to best serve your customers.
- Provide timely, clear communication throughout the order fulfillment process. Shipping updates, tracking information, and other helpful communications contribute to a positive customer experience.
- Facilitate hassle-free returns and refunds, which demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction and also builds trust.
- Surprise and delight customers with periodic promotions, discounts, and exclusive perks—delivered directly to their inboxes and smartphones.
Strategies for Asking for Customer Reviews
Getting customers to leave reviews can be challenging. Even just asking can feel daunting. As you begin building a customer feedback initiative, use these strategies to increase the chances of success, now, let's get to understanding how to ask customers for reviews:
1. Choose the right moment
When securing customer reviews, timing is everything. By asking for reviews post-purchase, after a product is delivered, or once enough time has passed for the customer to use the product, you can ensure that the feedback you collect covers all the bases of the customer experience, making it more insightful for potential buyers.
2. Craft a compelling message
For the best results, personalize outreach to make customers feel valued, explaining how their feedback helps both the brand and other shoppers. A well-crafted message not only can convince customers to leave a review in the first place, but also can strengthen bonds between brands and supporters.
3. Incentivize customers to leave reviews
To boost the chances customers leave feedback, consider rewarding them for their time. People love the idea of a value, and receiving a gift simply leaving a review provides plenty of incentive to get that value. Some possible incentives include:
- Coupons and discounts for future purchases
- Free items, including items only available to reviewers
- Free shipping
- Digital gift cards
- Extra points for your loyalty program
- Early access to purchase new items before the general public can
Furthermore, rewards can be tiered based on the depth of a review being left. For example, a customer including a photo or video with their review could receive a bigger discount or more loyalty points. When reviewers add their own media, it delivers a powerful message to consumers—a 2021 survey by Bazaarvoice discovered that 74 percent of people prefer to see other customers’ photos and videos on retailers’ websites, and 62 percent were more likely to buy if they could view both photos and videos from previous customers.
Incentives can also be used for less-than-satisfied reviewers as a way to give your brand another chance. This can be automated into a workflow—a one-star review, for example, triggers an email with an apology and a coupon.
4. Highlight existing reviews
The most obvious benefit of directing customers to review your reviews—as well as social proof on channels such as Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok—is that they hear from real-world customers on the merits of your brand. Beyond that, helpful reviews might inspire customers to join the party and leave their own feedback.
5. Assure Customers That Their Data Is Safe
Privacy concerns often deter customers from wanting to leave feedback—and deny you more opportunity to get the reviews that drive so much strategy. Security badges displayed prominently on a review can help alleviate customer fears not only to leave a review, but also to trust ordering from your e-commerce site in the future.
Besides badges, the options you structure reviews can also reassure customers. For example, people might be more inclined to leave a review if they can choose that their name, email, or other identifying info isn’t displayed on the posting. Even offering reviewers to display only a first name might be enough to get customers to leave feedback that still seems personalized for other viewers.
6. Create a Process for After Purchase
Sometimes the message/link on a confirmation page asking for review after purchase isn’t quite enough to inspire the customer to click on it and leave feedback. The same applies after the customer has received their purchase—if they have their item in hand, they may ignore the “Your package has been delivered” message on their phone.
Therefore, set workflows that automatically send reminder emails/texts encouraging recipients to leave feedback if they haven’t already. Don’t pester customers too much, but find that sweet spot when they accept your reminder and post a review—then set your workflow accordingly. And remember to include a thank you response for when a customer does leave a review.
Leveraging Technology for Review Generation
Much of the development of a cohesive, intuitive customer review strategy is trial and error. Some things will work, some things won’t—but continually evaluating and re-evaluating your efforts can lead you to a process that gets you the intel you seek (and SmartBug’s experts can help you with this process as well).
Wherever your customer review strategy takes you, technology should accompany your efforts. Purpose-built tools such as Klaviyo, which can be integrated with Shopify, automates the review collection process, ensuring consistency while keeping more work off your busy team’s plate. Such tools can significantly enhance the efficiency of collecting reviews, making it easier for ecommerce brands to gather valuable feedback.
Feed the Feedback Fire
Feedback—both positive and negative—is the lifeblood of e-commerce. In the grand tapestry of ecommerce, each customer review is a unique stitch, adding depth, color, and texture. By valuing each piece of feedback, brands weave a narrative of authenticity, commitment, and growth. And in this narrative lies the secret to enduring success.
By actively seeking out feedback and offering incentives, brands can increase the number of reviews they get while demonstrating their commitment to continuous improvement and ensuring that they keep pace with customers’ ever-evolving needs. But you’ll never get those reviews if you don’t follow a strategy on how to ask—and receive—them.
Nos that you know how to ask customers for reviews and if you like tips like these, join our e-commerce community to receive more tips, tricks, and best practices on Klaviyo directly in your inbox.
About the author
Kira Renee Kira is our Product Marketing Manager at SmartBug. She believes in a people-first and data-driven marketing approach. Previously working with many reputable brands, building their online brand presence and teaching companies how to enhance their marketing strategy to be customer-centric. When she's not creating a stellar marketing strategy, you can find her enjoying a crisp sour beer surrounded by her hundreds of plants and receiving cuddles from her Labradoodle. Read more articles by Kira Renee.