As an e-commerce retailer, you’re constantly looking for ways to build trust, enhance your brand and increase conversion. One of the best ways to achieve these goals is to prominently display authentic customer reviews in your online shop, and to publish customer reviews on trusted consumer platforms such as Google Places Reviews, Trustpilot and review.io. And the good news is: getting customers to write a review is often just a matter of asking them for it.
But how do you do it? What are the best practices for requesting post-purchase reviews from your customers? Are there any downsides to asking for customer reviews? In this quick guide for e-commerce retailers, we walk you through everything you need to know about asking for customer reviews and give you 7 best practices that will help you achieve the best results.
Why should you ask for reviews?
A 2022 survey found that 95% of consumers read online reviews before deciding which product to buy, and 58% say they would pay more for products from a brand that has good reviews. A further study found that nearly half of all adults (46%) say they never buy a product without reading reviews first. On average, displaying as few as five reviews increases the conversion rate for a product by 270%.
Because of the key role that customer reviews play in helping your customers to make their purchase decision, it’s more important than ever for your e-commerce business to prominently display customer reviews in your shop.
Consumer research has consistently linked customer reviews with many key business benefits for online retailers. In short, reviews create a sense of transparency, which builds trust and makes your shoppers more likely to place an order.
Here are some of the greatest benefits you can expect when posting customer reviews on your shop:
Enhancing your brand’s image
Positive customer reviews are a powerful testimonial for your business, but even the mere fact that you welcome and display customer reviews at all says a lot about your brand. This shows that you care about what customers have to say, which positions your brand as compassionate and customer-focused.
Reviews provide your shoppers with an authentic, realistic view of your products. They relate to the experiences of their fellow shoppers, and this builds trust in your shop, because it provides an honest point of view. This is why 78% more people trust reviews than ads and 88% say they trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation.
Increasing order values
In addition to boosting conversion rates, positive reviews also make people more willing to spend more in your shop. The average shopper says they will spend up to 31% more on products from a brand with excellent reviews.
Better customer experience
Closely related to building trust, customer reviews also improve the customer experience overall. By giving customers a chance to provide their feedback, you show them that their opinion matters. And by displaying as many reviews as possible for each product, you cater to the wishes of potential customers and help them feel more confident in their purchase decision.
Improving your products and services
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly: customer reviews are a valuable source of information for improving your offering. By gathering honest feedback, you gain valuable insights that can help you cater better to your customers’ wishes going forward.
What makes a good review?
Not all reviews are equally valuable to your customers. Internet-savvy shoppers look for specific aspects that help them determine whether a review is genuine, helpful and trustworthy. Here are some of the key characteristics that make up a “good” review from a customer’s point of view:
Specificity and detail
The best reviews contain detailed information that lets the shopper instantly imagine what it’s like to order a product from your shop. The more detail the better: whether it’s a back story about why the customer was interested in this kind of product, or a few words about what they wanted to use the product for. One powerful way to add even more detail is to allow your reviewers to share photos of the product in use.
Customer reviews are, above all, a form of social proof. This means they are an opportunity for peers (in this case, shoppers) to exchange information that may be useful to their fellow peers. It’s important for the review to contain relatable language. If a review is either over-the-top positive or unpleasantly negative, most shoppers will mentally filter it out as an outlier, so it has less influence on their purchase decision.
The most influential reviews are the ones that focus on concerns that every shopper can relate to (for example, something along the lines of: “I bought this as a gift for my mother and she loved it” or “I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised by the quality.”
In the era of “fake news”, most consumers don’t believe everything they read online. In fact, 45% of shoppers say they might think a review is fake if it goes overboard with its praise. That’s why buyer verification is an important tool for maintaining trust.
Buyer verification means a reviewer must verify their purchase (for example, by entering an order number) before being able to place a review. Their review can then be posted along with a symbol indicating they are a “verified buyer”. These types of reviews are 15% more influential for potential customers than non-verified buyer reviews. Similarly, reviews that display the buyer’s name are more influential than anonymous reviews, as they are more relatable and seen as more likely to be authentic.
7 best practices when asking for post-purchase reviews via email
Are you ready to start reaping the many benefits of posting customer reviews on your shop? It all starts with politely asking your customers to share their opinion. According to the findings of a recent study published in Harvard Business Review, simply emailing your customers to ask for a review increases the number of reviews you receive by 8%.
It sounds easy enough, but – as with every aspect of e-commerce – the devil is in the details. There are lots of different variables to keep in mind when asking for customer reviews, and it’s important to have a well-planned, consistent approach to make sure you get the maximum benefit.
Here are our 7 best practices to help you develop a successful customer review strategy.
1. Be polite and keep it short
Remember that you are asking your customers to spend their precious time writing a review of your product. To show that you appreciate their cooperation, use polite language and, above all, keep things short. Practically every online shopper has been asked to take part in a quick survey before, so there’s no need to explain the process to them in detail. Try a quick, direct email like this:
“Dear [Customer Name],
Thank you again for your recent order of [product name]!
Now that you’ve received your order, we’d love to know what you think.
Would you please take a few minutes to fill out our quick survey?
Your feedback helps us continually improve the way we work. It also helps other customers like you to learn more about our products and services.
Can we count you in?”
2. Include a clear call to action
A clear call to action (CTA) also makes your review request easier for the customer to respond to. Be sure to include a clear CTA button within your email. This should be in a different color from the rest of the email to really catch your customer’s eye and guide them towards the survey.
It’s best to keep the CTA short and use clear language, so the customer knows exactly what will happen when they click the CTA button or link. For example: “Start survey now”
3. Choose the right timing
The moment at which your customer receives your request can also have an influence on whether they will respond. Above all, you never want to send out a survey request before the customer has received their order. If a customer is experiencing a delay in receiving their order and they receive your request for a review, then they may not have very nice things to say. So, always be sure you’ve lived up to your side of the relationship before asking your customer to write a review. Remember: they are doing you a favor.
Marketing researchers have found that a period between 7 and 30 days after delivery is the optimal time for asking for a review request. If you ask sooner than that, some customers may not even have opened their package yet, or they have not had enough time to try out the new product and form an opinion. If you ask later than 30 days, it will probably go unnoticed, as the purchase may no longer be top-of-mind for the customer.
4. Make it personal
Customers are more likely to open and respond to emails that have a personal touch. Be sure your email addresses the customer by name and mentions at least one or two details about their order, such as the product they ordered or the order date.
If your email looks and feels generic, it may give the impression you don’t really care about the customer’s opinion. Personalizing the message sets a tone of respect, appreciation and care, which may have a positive influence on the type of review the customer writes.
5. To incentivize or not to incentivize?
As we’ve seen, it is beneficial to have lots of customer reviews displayed on your website and on customer review platforms online. Considering the benefits, some retailers offer their customers incentives for writing a review. For example, “Leave a review and earn 5% off on your next purchase.” Choosing whether to offer discounts or other rewards is always an individual decision that every company has to decide for itself. But before you decide to incentivize your customer reviews, consider these findings from a recent study published in Harvard Business Review:
If you offer an incentive in exchange for a review, you are twice as likely to get a review. However, this means that simply asking for a review without offering an incentive is still half as effective as incentivizing. In other words, incentivizing may not be worth the additional cost, since you can still secure a large number of reviews simply by asking for them.
6. Handle negative reviews the right way
So, you may also be wondering about the downsides of customer reviews. What if a customer has a negative experience and leaves a bad review? Will it hurt your business more than 10 positive reviews combined?
The good news is that even negative reviews can be helpful in building trust, establishing authenticity and increasing the amount of time customers spend on your website – as long as you handle them the right way.
Your customers are smart. They know that no product is going to be a perfect match for everyone. That’s why over half of customers say they are actually suspicious of products or brands that have no negative reviews. A list of reviews that are all “too good” are actually just “too good to believe” for most customers.
As long as they are balanced out with plenty of positive reviews, a few negative reviews can actually help your brand feel more trustworthy. In fact, 82% of shoppers say they specifically seek out negative reviews, just to get a more realistic view of a product. Meanwhile, 69% of shoppers say they will still buy from a brand that has received a bad review, as long as they see that the company responds appropriately to the negative feedback.
When handling a negative review, here’s what to do:
- Act fast: Responding publicly to a negative review as quickly as possible shows you care about your customers’ opinions.
- Show empathy: Acknowledge any mistakes and show that you understand the customer’s objections.
- Agree to disagree: If the customer’s negative feedback is purely a matter of their personal taste (no fault of your own), avoid arguing with them and politely thank them for their input. You can’t please everyone, and most of your customers don’t expect you to be able to – as long as you handle feedback with care and sensitivity.
7. Automate your customer review process
Managing your customer review requests can quickly turn into a full-time job all of its own. Fortunately, you can streamline your process with the right tools.
Sendcloud offers a convenient template for you to create your own review request email to send to customers. You can choose to send this out as the final email in a sequence of automatic post-purchase emails your customer receives, starting the moment their order has been delivered.
Seven days after the order is delivered, Sendcloud automatically sends the customer the personalized template asking them to leave a review. The email contains a friendly request in your customers’ local language, along with a clear call to action button that directs them to the online review tool of your choice.
This video shows how Sendcloud’s post-purchase email tracking works:
Do you want more insights: Discover The 10 best strategies to optimize order tracking
Leverage the power of customer reviews
Post-purchase reviews are a powerful asset for e-commerce retailers. They help you achieve many important business goals, such as building your brand image and boosting customer satisfaction and loyalty. By actively seeking reviews and publishing them on your website or on popular consumer review channels, you create trust, enhance customer experiences and drive sales. Sendcloud’s automated post-purchase email feature offers a simple, effective way to request reviews, making the process automatic, consistent and hassle-free.
By emailing your customer to directly ask for a review shortly after they receive their order, you increase the likelihood of getting a response. And automating the process means you’ll never forget to email a customer to ask for their feedback. Your review requests are delivered on time, every time, always with the correct details for the customer (their name and the product they purchased). All these details lower the threshold, making customers more willing to offer you a bit of their time.
Take the first step towards automating your review request process with Sendcloud’s post-purchase emails feature. Sign up for a free 14-day trial of our shipping platform and start building your brand awareness today.