5 Tips to Turn Reviews Into Profits for Merchants
Customer reviews are having a profound impact on the world of transactions. From eCommerce sites and brand Facebook pages to forums like Quora and Reddit, online opinions can directly impact revenue.
Consumers now place as much trust in online reviews as they do in opinions from their family and friends, with 98% of customers reading reviews before they shop.1 Shoppers consult reviews before purchasing to decide if a product or service is worth their time and money. Reviews provide best-case and worst-case scenarios that inform buying decisions, and 94% of consumers say a bad review has convinced them to avoid a business.2
With customer reviews playing such a pivotal role in a business’s success, there are specific steps that enhance and safeguard online reputations. Embracing these strategic actions can help merchants thrive in an increasingly competitive landscape where digital trust wins sales.
1. Ask for reviews, and ask at the right time
Asking customers for feedback is a critical step for merchants building their review strategy. The challenge lies in soliciting feedback in a timely way that does not disrupt the customer's experience. Faster is not always better.
Merchants who carefully consider the timing of their requests and reminders may find more success in obtaining quality reviews. Some products and services are suited to an immediate review, but customers often need time to use and evaluate a product—only 8% of online customers in the United States leave a review on the day of their purchase.3 Most wait at least two days,3 and asking for a review too early can make customers feel rushed, which may result in no review at all.4
There are a variety of methods for soliciting reviews organically and effortlessly. In-person interactions, phone conversations, email communication, and receipt requests can all play a role in skillfully engaging customers. Other solicitation techniques that feel natural in a variety of customer journeys include:
- Social media posts that ask followers to leave a review
- SMS messages sent to customers' phones, directing them to a URL for feedback or support
- Chatbots at checkout that offer incentives like discounts or free future shipping
2. Know where to find your reviews
Understanding how customers seek information is critical to a successful customer review strategy. To yield results, merchants need to know where customers go to gather information.
Just over 63% of consumers make Google their number-one choice for finding reviews,2 and it is the world's most popular review site, followed by Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Facebook.2 In China, online reviews on Taobao, Tmall, and RED inform consumers’ purchasing decisions, and Russia's largest search engine, Yandex, is similar to Google in the way it allows users to leave reviews of venues and businesses.
Google's popularity is likely due to its volume of zero-click searches—users don't have to go to a third-party website to read reviews because Google includes review snippets and star ratings in its organic search results. Social media appeals to shoppers because they can engage directly with retailers, asking questions and leaving feedback. It is also a powerful way to target specific demographics—73.7% of Internet users between the ages of 16 and 64 use social media to research brands,5 and 47% of Gen Z and Millennials rely on social networks as their go-to resource for product research.6
3. Read and monitor reviews
53% of customers expect a response to a negative review within a week, and one in three have a shorter time frame of three days or less.5 These numbers highlight how important it is for merchants to consistently monitor, read, and respond to reviews to maintain a positive reputation. Those who successfully manage reviews prioritize it as a regular task within their business operations.
Merchants should also be aware that consumers have become skeptical of fake reviews and that generating false reviews for products or services will eventually backfire. 68% of consumers question the authenticity of glowing reviews,1 and research by Fakespot, a website that analyzes online product reviews, found that 42% of Amazon’s reviews were fake.7,8
Consumers find reviews more believable if some criticism appears, so including an authentic mix of positive, negative, and neutral reviews is essential. Additionally, many eCommerce sites ban anonymous reviews, and some use sophisticated algorithms to identify fake reviews.
4. Showcase positive reviews
When prospective customers begin researching a purchase and see positive reviews featured on a merchant's website or social media, it creates a positive first impression. Those same positive reviews also remind returning customers of the quality products and services the merchant offers.
Merchants can repurpose reviews that provide detailed, descriptive accounts of products and services and use them as vivid testimonials and strategic marketing tools. Reviews that include specific benefits and results, as well as emotions, make powerful impressions—especially when presented as a mix of short, memorable quotes and longer, more detailed stories.
When showcased in a way that connects to brand messaging, these types of customer testimonials add authenticity to advertising and other marketing touchpoints, especially when they include the reviewer's name as attribution (which merchants should only do with permission).
5. Respond and act
Savvy merchants treat reviews as no-cost advice from a consultant. They use reviews to foster customer and client relationships and inspire ideas and conversations among employees.
Actively engaging with reviews and embracing suggestions enhances a merchant's reputation, establishes credibility, and demonstrates a commitment to customer satisfaction. In addition to thanking customers for their feedback, showing them that their input has made a tangible impact is essential. Merchants should respond to reviews, either privately or publicly, to let customers know that their suggestions have led to meaningful change. This includes responding to both positive and negative reviews, which is a powerful way to demonstrate that customers are heard and valued.
Make reviews a competitive advantage
People appreciate and trust businesses more when they know their experiences, questions, and concerns are acknowledged. How merchants choose to manage reviews speaks volumes about their business and provides valuable insights that support their success, now and in the future.
- Paget, Sammy. (2023, February 7). Local Consumer Review Survey 2023. BrightLocal. Viewed on 5 November 2023 on www.brightlocal.com
- (2022, January 9). Online Reviews Statistics and Trends: A 2022 Report by ReviewTrackers. ReviewTrackers. Viewed on 5 November 2023 on https://www.reviewtrackers.com/reports/online-reviews-survey/
- Why Do Consumers Provide Product Ratings & Reviews? PowerReviews. Viewed 5 November 2023 on https://www.powerreviews.com
- Jung, M., Ryu, S., Han, S., & Cho, D. (2023, February 21). When Is the Best Time to Ask Customers for a Review? Harvard Business Review. Viewed 5 November 2023 on https://hbr.org/
- (2023, July). Digital 2023 July Global Snapshot Report: The Essential Guide to the World’s Connected Behaviours. Meltwater. Viewed 5 November 2023 on www.meltwater.com
- Kamal, Jenna. 2022, December 22. How consumers find new brands and research products in 2023. GWI. Viewed 5 November 2023 on https://blog.gwi.com/
- Stieb, Matt. (2022, July 26). Amazon’s War on Fake Reviews. Intelligencer. Viewed 5 November 2023 on https://nymag.com/
- (2023, July 4). How to Spot Fake Online Reviews. Consumer Reports. Viewed 5 November 2023 on https://www.consumerreports.org/
The information provided herein is sponsored by Discover® Global Network. It is intended for informational purposes, and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.