Digital Marketing

Should You Ask Your Customers for Reviews?

Patrick McCarthy

As a Shopify marketing agency, we say the short answer is yes. Absolutely. 100%. 

Reviews not only help grow sales, they also help your customers make good buying decisions

Besides, people love sharing their opinions. Indeed, they may be humankind’s strongest attachment! 

And we’re not just referring to good reviews specifically. Negative reviews can also help your business if they’re effectively managed.

One of the most obvious ways to determine how reviews influence consumer behaviour is how much they factor into your own buying decisions. 

You know the power of reviews firsthand just from having purchased a product for yourself. You go online to search for a particular product, bookmark a few, and begin the process of comparing product features, prices, and of course––reviews. 

Reviews are usually a later-stage buying consideration by those bottom-of-the-funnel folks hunting for more specific information, which can make them the impetus for either buying your product or bouncing to another brand. 

One source shares the following stats:

91% of consumers regularly or occasionally read online reviews

84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation

74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more

An underlying message inside those stats is that there are few people out there who don’t read reviews. 

In this article we dive into the reasons why asking your customers for reviews is an effective business strategy, while considering trustworthiness and negative reviews. 

How do reviews help your online business?

Online reviews can help establish credibility and trust. It’s like hearing first-hand from people who have used your product or service. They also give potential buyers a better look at the particular benefits of a product, based on real user experience. 

They’re also useful for addressing and overcoming any concerns a potential buyer may have as they navigate the buying journey.

Reviews aren’t just a goldmine of information for your customers in assisting their buying decision, they can also behave like a free marketing tool for building your business (see the final section in this article for more information).

However, negative reviews also have the potential to hurt your business if they’re not handled effectively. The response to a bad review, if one is given, can help build trust with potential customers, even in the face of the original negative message. We’ll look at that more closely in a later section.

Speaking of trust…

Are online reviews trustworthy?

Some black hat methods include the hiring of people to write fake reviews. In some cases, people are paid to write a product review without having any experience with the actual product. 

In other cases, and seemingly less illegitimate, brand owners recruit people to submit a five-star review in exchange for a free product plus a small commission (1). 

A July 2020 article by Harvard Business Review, shares the results of their 10-year study that explored how fake reviews are generated, and how they impact sellers, buyers, and platforms. 

Here’s what they discovered:

“Based on our observations, we estimate that as many as 4.5 million sellers sourced fake reviews via these Facebook groups in the past year” (1).

“Fake reviews appear to be most common for a certain type of product. These products tend to be priced similarly to their competitors, generally in the $15-$40 price range, and they typically already have high ratings, with an average rating of 4.4 and an average of 183 reviews (suggesting that many of these pre-existing reviews may also have been fake).”

Given the increasingly sophisticated methods developed to outsmart the algorithms established to prevent this type of fraud, even discerning readers who are seriously considering buying a product may not be able to spot a fake review.

So, as consumers ourselves, if we can’t always trust positive reviews, how can our customers trust that our brand is credible?

The power of a negative review

A key indicator of whether a brand is trustworthy lies in how they respond to customer complaints, ie. negative reviews. 

Consumers are highly influenced by how brands communicate with customers who’ve posted bad reviews. According to one source, 97% of shoppers read a business's responses to reviews as well as the reviews themselves (2). 

It’s not difficult to figure out why those responses are so impactful––it shows consumers that a business cares about its customers, and are willing to go the extra mile to make them happy. 

It’s also a powerful method for retaining customers who have documented a negative experience with your product. Crafting your response wisely by offering to help or incentivising them with a bonus can help pacify their anger or irritation. 

Further, 45% of shoppers are more likely to support businesses that have responded to negative reviews, which is to say that such reviews (and their responses) may actually help, rather than hinder, your online business (2).

How to use reviews in your marketing plan

The first step is asking your customers for reviews. 

Most people don’t want to do anything for free these days, so you have to give them a juicy incentive. 

One tactic is to offer your customers a discount in exchange for a review on a verified-purchased item. An email flow is an excellent vehicle for communicating this offer. You can develop an automated flow using an email marketing platform like Klaviyo, for instance.

Showcasing your customer experiences aren’t just limited to review platforms like Okendo. Social proof extends to ratings and reviews on social channels like Facebook and Instagram too, as well as Google. 

Invite your customers to leave a review via a channel most convenient for them. Using social media is also a strategic way to invite your customers into your community of followers.

In later email flows or campaigns, you can cherry-pick the best reviews and showcase them to motivate repeat buying

We’d love to help you get your business review-ready. 

We’re Shopify experts, and we have over a decade of experience working with ecommerce owners on a range of platforms (read: not just Shopify). Give us 10 minutes and we'll tell you how we can help you accelerate your ecommerce growth

And while you’re in there booking your free, no-strings strategy call, be sure to check out our reviews too :)


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