Before you purchase a product or service for the first time, you take the time to do some background checks. You ask one or two people who have used the product about their experience. If they speak ill of it, you change your mind about buying it.
Generally, online reviews help other would-be customers make the right decisions. But what if you are not a customer but actually the business owner who wants to see your customers leave reviews to grow your social proof?
Before we discuss how you can encourage users to leave reviews, let’s first establish what social proof is and why it matters.
In this context, social proof is the validation of a product by having it associated with many customers.
It helps if some of the customers who have something positive to say about your product are public figures or celebrities with thousands or millions of followers behind them. When many customers take the time to review a product or service, the psychological message to potential customers is that this product is worth trying.
Why? Because it has social proof.
We are all social beings, each with a desire to belong. The would-be customers trust reviews more than they trust what you say about your product. So how do you encourage your customers to leave reviews to help you grow your social proof?
Internet surfers are ever on the move, and few of them have the time to spare on things they deem not beneficial to them. If you’d like them to spare a few moments to type quick feedback, ensure your site is easy to navigate. The design should be simple enough so that they don't get lost trying to figure out how or where to post the review.
In short, the review section should be visible, accessible, and not forcing your customer to jump through hoops in order to leave a review.
There are those customers who will only give a review if you nudge them. Therefore, send an email reminder or pop-ups requesting a review after each purchase. You can wait for 2 to 4 days before sending the email or pop up to give the buyer the time to build an opinion on the product.
Giving the customer enough time to try out your product will enable them to write a more detailed review, but don’t wait too long or the joy of the purchase may lose momentum.
One segment of your customers will only be willing to review a product if there’s something for them directly from the act of reviewing. It's human nature. People want to feel their efforts are not taken for granted.
Make the effort of writing a review worth your customer’s while. Some of the incentives you can put forth include discounts, coupons, contest entries, or redeemable points. The latter works even better if you have a loyalty program.
One segment of your customers will only be willing to review a product if there’s something for them directly from the act of reviewing. It's human nature. People want to feel their efforts are not taken for granted. Make the effort of writing a review worth your customer’s while. Some of the incentives you can put forth include discounts, coupons, contest entries, or redeemable points. The latter works even better if you have a loyalty program.
You need to show your customers that you take their feedback seriously. For that reason, post some of these reviews on social media and thank the highlighted reviewers for taking the time to evaluate your product. This gesture will encourage others to review a product or service next time they use your brand. Along with the shared reviews, share a link to the review form so that customers who already purchased but never reviewed could follow suit and share their opinions as well.
It’s one thing to ask for reviews and another to highlight them to other prospective customers. The reviews should be for public consumption—both the good and the bad.
Don’t hide all the reviews you do not like. They are social proof as well. New users will take that as a sign that you’re a human too, and that you’re willing to redeem for possible mistakes. There should be a section for reviews on your site where other customers can quickly access them to read before making an informed decision.
Some reviews require you to respond because the customer has raised serious, honest concerns about your products or services. At times, the feedback is not pleasant. Some reviewers are rude and vulgar. You can do little about it, but it will help your brand if you speedily respond to their concerns in a professional, polite manner.
You need to demonstrate how you have addressed their issues (or intend to) so that they don’t encounter them when they next make a purchase. Once the issue is solved satisfactorily, you can from the request the customer to update his review.
When you fail to monitor and respond to reviews, you harm your business. You send the message that it doesn't matter what the customers feel or say as long as they purchase.
Not all of your customers can post a review on your website or whichever platform you use at the expense of the rest. You should not limit them; give them options to meet them where they are.
To get as many reviews as possible, you should employ all the platforms where your customers are likely to be found: email contact forms, social media, blogs, websites, apps, etc.
eCommerce apps are especially effective for collecting reviews because users don’t need to leave the app to a different site to post the review. Some users are put off when they realize they are transferred elsewhere when they click a review link. An app that allows users to snap and upload a picture quickly is even more convenient. More customers will be willing to post reviews via such an eCommerce app, and your brand will benefit from the enormous amount of credibility that follows.
All reviews should be on display, but for the sake of your business, you need to strategically place the positive reviews so that they are more prominent. Never let negative reviews drown the positive ones. Some customers planning to post a scathing review would be softened when they see some positive reviews along the way. They then realize there are indeed positive sides to your brand, your products and services.
You are in business to profit, so you should also be fair to yourself even as you balance things. You need more good reviews, not just reviews for the sake of it.
Collecting and showcasing user reviews is not always easy, and certainly not all reviews will be five-star praises. However, negative reviews are an opportunity to learn and improve. Don't let a few negative opinions deter you from opening your online real estate to user reviews. If you continuously focus on improving your business and user experience, negative reviews will quickly be buried behind happy customers' reviews.
Use every chance to encourage users to leave reviews of your product or service. There are numerous opportunities to use your customer's voice to show yourself as a reliable and trustworthy business partner in today's digital world.
Heather Redding is a part-time assistant manager and writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is also an avid reader and a tech enthusiast. When Heather is not working or writing, she enjoys her Kindle library with a hot cup of coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.
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