As any eCommerce seller knows, reviews will make or break your product sales. In addition to providing useful information to shoppers, they also directly influence how you appear in search. Poor or insufficient reviews won't just make you look bad - they'll make you invisible! The pressure to win encourages unscrupulous black hat review tactics but you can still win by taking the "high road"... Here's how!

Focus on Sales

This is a classic "chicken and egg" situation. You want reviews to drive your sales but, without sales, you won't generate any reviews. Statistically speaking, less than 5 percent of customers who purchase your products will actually leave a review. To earn more early reviews, focus on generating sales momentum for your product right out of the gate. Make sure that your product is priced to win and use promotions and off-site media to drum up excitement. This early investment will pay off in the long-term.

Deal clubs (bargain sites that offer deep discounts) are often used during product launches by sellers hoping to acquire that first set of positive reviews. Sellers will often offer 70% discounts or more to these clubs! Is this a smart move? It depends - if giving away 200 units for the cost of COGS + shipping helps to move thousands more at full price, then this may be the best marketing investment a seller can make. Watch out, though... Some of the "professional reviewers" who frequent these deal clubs have been flagged by eCommerce sites and their reviews may be disapproved or removed later.

Give More to Get More

In today's hyper competitive market, brands that go the extra mile are the ones that stand out in shoppers’ memories. Take every opportunity possible to surprise and delight the customer that has decided to take a chance on you. This doesn't have to be expensive - great packaging, valuable content inserts, repeat purchase incentives, in-pack samples, and follow up emails can make a big difference and get people talking.

Master Your Customer Service

Most negative reviews on good products are due to a breakdown in after sale service and / or communication. Customers deserve answers to their questions and you need a system so that you can be ready to respond. Make it easy for customers to contact you - if they have to spend 10 minutes on Google to find a phone number, then you've lost. An 800 number prominently placed on your packaging and in other content including followup emails is a smart move.

The objective is to deal with the customer BEFORE they write their negative review so it's in your best interest to be as available as possible. It's extremely hard to get a customer to change feedback once they've left it... You get just one chance to make things right.

Take Advantage of Retailer-Sanctioned Programs

Retailers want reviews too. These reviews can take the guesswork out of shopping, boost the retailer's own SEO, and become a driver of repeat visits. This is why retailers have gotten behind programs that encourage reviews and, in some cases, created their own programs. Amazon, for example, offers Vine and the Early Reviewer Program, both of which encourage shoppers to try new items and share their experiences. Other 3rd party services like Bazaarvoice and Field Agent's Digital Demo can also help to generate content which, in some cases, can be syndicated to multiple retailers.

Remind Shoppers to Leave Reviews in Email

If you're running your own eCommerce site, make sure you're set up to check in with the shopper a week or two after they've received their order. This is a great chance to reinforce why they made the right choice, answer common questions, and ask for feedback on your site.

Amazon also allows third-party sellers to communicate with shoppers via its Buyer-Seller Messaging Service. Be careful, though - to stay on the high road (and within the rules) you can encourage feedback but you not a specific type of feedback. Asking for 4 or 5-star reviews, for example, is not allowed!

Invest in Getting it Right

Shopper reviews are, in all likelihood, going to be more important to your success than the eCommerce content you've provided. If you don't invest in reviews up-front, your sales velocity will be significantly impaired and (depending on the platform) your visibility will be as well. As this happens, your savvier competitors will be gaining market share - it'll be much more expensive to win this back later. When you take the "high road" to investing in customer reviews, you're actually investing in a positive customer experience. You can't go wrong with that!

If you'd like help generating your own review program or with any part of your eCommerce strategy, we're here to help. Click the link below to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced growth advisors.

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