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 customer reviews, best practices for collecting and displaying them, and what features you should look for in a reviews provider.
We'll be covering a lot of topics when it comes to online customer reviews. Here's a breakdown of what's in this blog in case you want to skip ahead:
Surely, if you’ve ever shopped online, you know what customer reviews are. Some people refer to them simply as reviews, while others might call it feedback. Some 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. Let's clear that up:
When it comes to online customer reviews, they can be broken down into three categories:
Service reviews (aka shop reviews)
So, what's the difference between these types of reviews?
Service reviews, often referred to as shop reviews, are reviews 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.
As service reviews should give feedback on the shop's service, product reviews are for product feedback. Again, a product review should be about only 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 writing product reviews and stick to opinions about the item they've purchased with no mention of the shop's service.
Local reviews can fall under the shop reviews umbrella. They are reviews for stores that exist in the physical world. Remember, even if your main business is in the real world, people still use the digital sphere to research businesses.
Source: shutterstock.com/Ihor Biliavskyi
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.
Recommended reading: Digital Strategies to Boost Foot Traffic to Local Businesses
Surely, you know that customer reviews are important to some degree. After all, you’ve most definitely used some reviews to help you with a buying decision in the past.
Through your own experiences, you already 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.
There are endless statistics showing the power of online reviews in terms on converting customers. This article from Oberlo provides lots of interesting stats. Here are a few noteworthy ones:
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? Through SEO (search engine optimisation).
In the eyes of Google, adding reviews to your website is comparable to adding fresh content to your website. Google’s web crawlers will scan websites for relevant information in order to decide where it should rank in its search engine results pages (SERPs).
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.
How Long Tail Keywords Can Boost Your Organic and Paid Traffic
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.
It's no secret that visual elements can sway opinions. After all, we tell people not to judge books by covers because we all judge books by covers sometimes.
Customer reviews stars (aka star-ratings) can bring an element of trust-at-first-sight to your business.
If you have website pages that rank high organically, that's already a great sign of trustworthiness by itself. However, you 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 and star-ratings are a HUGE part of that. Below is an example ad from tennis-point.co.uk:
Want to read more about the different star-ratings that appear throughout Google (e.g. Google Ads, Google Shopping, Google Maps)? Then our (free) whitepaper is a must-read!
Last, but definitely not least, you should consider getting customer reviews on your website because they not only provide your potential 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.
Download our free whitepaper for tips on handling negative reviews!
There are plenty of customer 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 reviews provider that is partnered with Google.
In order for your star-ratings to be visible in Google Ads, 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.
Displaying your service and product reviews directly on your website is super important. Proving your trustworthiness immediately can often prevent users from leaving your website to check on your reputation.
However, a certain amount of shoppers will always depend on search engines to do their own research about your shop. That means there's a good chance there are reviews for your shop on third-party review systems that you didn't register for, which can be difficult to maintain. However, it's still important to try to manage your reputation across the web, not just on your website.
Being active in asking for reviews is vital to the health of your online reputation. Disappointed customers are more likely to write unsolicited reviews, so a proactive approach should be used in galvinising your happy customers to leave their feedback as well!
A tool like the Trusted Shops Reputation Manager does just that. It lets you send out review requests for open platforms like Google reviews as well as some companies like Trustpilot.
Another thing to keep in mind when choosing a reviews provider is how easy they make it to collect reviews from your customers. The truth is that most customers don’t leave reviews, so your reviews provider should have a solid process set up for you to collect customer reviews.
For example, the Trusted Shops Review Collector helps shop owners automate the process of sending out review request emails.
Getting customers to submit reviews can be challenging in and of itself. Research has shown that the timing of the request is a huge element to the equation. If you can control the timing of your review request emails (e.g. 2 days after delivery), you can maximise the reviews that you get.
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 an early review invitation inspires them to give some feedback, 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 (while still being 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 later on 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 these statistics might not necessarily hold true for your target audience, so it’s important to test this out for your customers.
What is A/B Testing and Why Your Online Shop Should Be Doing It
You’ll also want to consider how your reviews get displayed. Can you customise them to fit the look of your brand and website?
Speaking of displaying reviews, is there a way to integrate your reviews into your social media accounts (i.e. Facebook and Instagram)?
Finally, it’s important to allow shoppers to edit their reviews. Why? Well, if you are able to resolve an issue from a negative review, you might ask the customer to change their review and rating, which will naturally affect your score.
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!
By now, you know why it's important to collect reviews. Online reviews make first-time customers feel more confident about buying from your shop. Trust goes a long way!
The question remains: how should you display theses reviews?
Again, this depends on the kinds of reviews we're talking about.
However, with the service/shop reviews that indicate your brand's customer service, you'll want to make these easily accessible throughout your website - never give your site's visitors a reason to leave your website, even if it is to research your company.
One thing is for sure. You'll want shoppers to have easy access to those customer reviews. One way of displaying shop reviews is to use a reviews 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.
Clicking on the Trustbadge expands it and gives shoppers access to shop reviews as well as your other trust elements (i.e. the Trustmark and Buyer Protection) (Source: Futureshop.co.uk)
Good reviews need the best possible placement on your site if they are going to have an effect. A widget can remain (minimised) on the screen constantly for easy access.
However, they mustn’t cause a distraction from your offer. At Trusted Shops, some of the most favoured solutions include the placement of widgets on the homepage's sidebar or in the footer of the website.
Additionally, your customer reviews should be displayed in mobile sites as well - while not being distracting.
Rating stars are an important indicator for your customers, but actual reviews can tell better stories than an average score.
Therefore, we recommend 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.
Adjust the rating-display to suit your website’s layout, so it doesn’t look like some foreign object, but rather an 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.