Customer reviews are an integral part of any business’s marketing plan whether it be an online shop or a brick-and-mortar shop. They provide social proof for your shop’s visitors, but they are beneficial in so many more ways. Keep reading this blog to learn about the different kinds of reviews, best practices for collecting and displaying them, and what features you should look for in a reviews provider.
What are customer reviews?
Surely, if you’ve ever shopped online, you know what customer reviews are. Some people refer to them as reviews, while others might call it feedback, while others refer to the rating or the star-rating of a shop. However, there does seem to be a bit of confusion as to the different types of reviews.
When it comes to online customer reviews, they can be broken down into three categories:
Shop reviews are more or less what they sound like. Customers create a review based on the shop’s services. These reviews should reflect such things as customer support, delivery times, packaging, and the general responsibilities of the shop. Normally, shop reviews should only be in reference to those elements, not to the quality of the products.
That’s what product reviews are for. Again, a product review should be about just that: the quality and performance of a product. Ideally, customers who write a product review don’t take a shop’s services into consideration when giving their feedback.
Local reviews can fall under the shop reviews umbrella. They are reviews for stores that exist in the physical world. These days, people use online reviews to research everything, from computers to restaurants. For that reason, even brick-and-mortars should be proactive when it comes to managing their online reputations.
Why are customer reviews so important?
Surely, you know that customer reviews are important to some degree. After all, you’ve surely used some reviews to help you with a buying decision in the past. So, right away, we know that customer reviews can provide social proof for your shop and its products. This, in a very clear way, is building trust for your shop. However, customer reviews provide many more benefits for your online shop.
Besides social proof, customer reviews can help your shop and products gain more visibility. How? In the eyes of Google, adding reviews to your website is comparable to adding content to your site. Google’s web crawlers will scan websites for relevant information in order to decide where it should rank in its inquiries.
This “user-generated content” provides your website with valuable keywords that will constantly be updated with the addition of new reviews (Google also loves websites that constantly add new content). Therefore, the more reviews you have, the higher you should rank in Google for your company’s most important keywords.
Speaking of search engines, we all know how important it is to get discovered through Google & co. Being able to rank on the first page of your most important keywords can help bring hundreds (or thousands… or even millions!) of visitors to your website every month. I’ve already mentioned user-generated content as a way of boosting your site’s SEO. However, the visual element of your reviews can help bring in visitors as well.
I’m talking about review stars! Your organic search results can grab the attention of your target audience even more so by having those little orange stars next to your organic search results (some studies have shown a 35% increase in traffic when stars are displayed in Google’s SERPs).
The same goes for your Google Ads. Those eye-catching stars take up more real estate and can lead to significant increases in your click-through rates (that goes for Google Shopping ads as well). Remember, trust begins before a shopper ever visits your website.
SIDE NOTE: If you want to download guides to organic stars, Google Ads stars, and Google Shopping, visit our download centre for access to our FREE, in-depth whitepapers!
Last, but definitely not least, you should consider getting customer reviews on your website because they not only provide your customers with valuable feedback, but they also provide it to you!
Remember, optimisation doesn’t just mean tinkering with a few website features and the wording of your ads. You can also optimise the customer experience as well as your product line. If you get too many negative reviews about your customer service, for example, it might be time to consider some serious internal changes. The same goes for bad reviews for a specific product. If too many customers complain about a certain product, you might want to consider removing it from your product line.
What should you look for in a reviews provider?
There are plenty of reviews providers out there. So, what differentiates them from each other? What are the most important qualities for a review provider to have?
For starters, because online reviews can provide such important value to your SEO and visibility strategies, it’s immensely important to have a website that is partnered with Google. In order for your star-rating to be visible, Google has to know that your shop receives new reviews constantly. With Google Ads’ ad-extensions, you can add these star-ratings to your ads.
The next point might be a bit controversial to some, but to me, it’s very clear: having a closed review system. What does this mean? It might be easier to explain what an open review system is.
In an open review system, literally anyone can leave a review for your shop’s products and services. There is no real verification process before the review is written (and posted) to see if the reviewer is an actual customer.
This leaves your reviews open to manipulation by anyone, which includes angry customers (fair enough), but also to your competitors or disgruntled employees.
Your competitors will mess with you if they're given the chance.
A closed review system ensures that only verified customers leave reviews with your shop.
Another thing to keep in mind when choosing a reviews provider is how easy they make it to collect reviews from their customers. The truth is that most customers don’t leave reviews, so your reviews provider should have a solid process for collecting reviews. For example, the Trusted Shops Review Collector helps shop owners automate the process of sending out review request emails. By controlling the timing of such emails (e.g. 2 days after delivery), you can maximise the reviews that you get.
You’ll also want to consider how your reviews get displayed. Can you customise them to fit the look of your website?
Speaking of displaying reviews, is there a way to integrate your reviews into your social media accounts (i.e. Facebook)?
Finally, it’s important to allow shoppers to edit their reviews. Why? Well, if you are able to resolve the disputes from a negative review, you might ask the customer to change their review and rating, which will naturally affect your score.
Timing of the review request
As was mentioned before, getting customers to submit reviews can be challenging in and of itself. Timing is a huge element to the equation.
Here’s something that customers and business owners can agree on: no goods, no reviews. In other words, you don’t want to ask for a review if the customer hasn’t even received the goods yet. Why? If this inspires them to write a review, it will probably be about not receiving the goods yet - not exactly the glowing review you were hoping for! So, rule number one is simple: don’t send a review request out unless you are certain they’ve received their goods.
More specifically, according to our research, two days after delivery is the ideal time to send a review request. Generally speaking, this gives the customer enough time to collect the package and try out the product (and still be excited about their new purchase).
Furthermore, our research showed that the most common times for review submissions are at Monday morning at 9 a.m. This surprised us, too. Generally speaking, it seems that many reviews come in in the morning, so sending review requests in the evening might make the most sense as they’ll be filled in and submitted the next morning. However, it’s important to keep in mind that none of these statistics necessarily hold true for your target audience, so it’s important to test this out for your customers.
How should you display customer reviews?
By now, you know how important it is to collect reviews. First-time customers feel more confident to buy from your shop. Trust goes a long way! The question remains: how should you display theses reviews?
Classic option: the review widget
The standard way of displaying shop reviews is to use a review widget. This usually shows the average score and a randomly selected comment. By clicking on the widget, customers are taken to the customer review profile and are offered an overview of all the reviews there.
Good reviews need the best possible placement on the shop site if they are going to have an effect. The customer should be able to find them easily, but, of course, they mustn’t cause a distraction from your offer. Favoured solutions include the placement of widgets on the homepage's sidebar or in the footer of the website.
Rating stars are an important indicator for your customers, but reviews speak louder. Therefore, we recommended that you present a selection of between two and six reviews. This amount is enough for customers to skim over them quickly and gives them a good first impression. A review sticker makes this, and more, possible.
Customise the layout of the page
Adjust the rating display to suit your website’s layout, so doesn’t look like some foreign object, but integral part of each page. This goes for not only colour, typography, and formatting, but also style and theme.
All in all, collecting and displaying customer reviews can benefit your online shop immensely. By gathering these reviews you give your website much more credibility, you increase your website’s SEO, and you have direct feedback from your customers, which can help you optimise your business practices.
For more information on Trusted Shops reviews, contact us.