As the holidays are fast approaching, many companies are hyper-focused on sales. But, we want to put emphasis on how reviews can impact your brand’s reputation and ultimately, sales. Sage Tree’s, Maya Lichter speaks to the impact of reviews and some tips on how to gauge your company’s online reputation.
The Impact of Reviews
With 90% of consumers online believing their purchasing choices are influenced by product reviews (Dimensional Research), having reviews on your products, and paying attention to what those reviews say, is an important piece of managing an eCommerce business. Additionally, consumers look for how interactive brands are with shoppers and this can factor in the purchasing decision.
For many, the discussion of review management comes into play after an issue has been identified; such as a negative rating, a picture portraying a damaged or defective product, or just an influx of low-rated reviews. The truth of the matter is – most brands just want to stop the bleeding rather than being proactive about their brand’s reputation with ratings and reviews.
It’s vital to elicit a preventative approach to reviews. You wouldn’t start brushing your teeth after you find out that you need a root canal (at least, we hope not). Therefore, it’s imperative to pay attention to what your consumers are saying prior to having an issue.
According to Bazaarvoice, an industry expert on collection and syndication of reviews and questions, these are the top 4 value drivers that review management ultimately impacts:
- Online sales
- In-store sales
- Brand Loyalty
69% of consumers indicated that their number one reason for abandoning a product retail page on a retailer site was due to not enough information or lack of detail
Understanding the importance of reviews comes from grasping the consumer mindset in today’s space. Last year, in a study done by Salsify 69% of consumers indicated that their number one reason for abandoning a product retail page on a retailer site was due to not enough information or lack of detail. This tells us that brand name is not enough and consumers are looking for a two-way experience while shopping. When a product page is lacking in detail, you can be certain that the next area a shopper will consider is the review space to help shape their purchase decision. More than four in five (86%) shoppers trust consumer reviews they read online (Review Monitoring), which is why it’s important for brands to take time to understand their consumer’s expectations and meet them within their purchase journey and at the decision point.
How can a brand better connect with their consumers? These are three key areas to focus on:
- Mining reviews for data that might be missing
- Analyzing incoming frequently asked questions
- Identifying trends amongst feedback
The expectation of transparency and reachability surrounding brands has grown when it comes to consumers investing their time and money, which raises the demand for an interactive experience. No one wants to be a guinea pig when it comes to their shopping experience and without the ability to physically see or examine the product, shoppers are left to rely on what is visible on the brand or product page, including the experience shared by other shoppers. The expectation of transparency and reachability surrounding brands has grown when it comes to consumers investing their time and money.
Leaving Sales on the Table
One cringe-worthy idea for any company is the thought of leaving sales on the table. No one likes to think they’ve missed a step that could have turned a profit, so let’s look at the type of impact reviews truly have and how it might be an area of opportunity for sellers. A 2018 study conducted by Bazaarvoice dissected the brand perspective and where US dollars are being spent while revealing that consumers put their trust in what other consumers are saying:
- $12-$35 billion is being spent annually in the US on traffic drivers like display ads, social ads, and paid search
- Less than $1 billion is spent on consumer reviews
- 66% of people trust consumer reviews over the advertising efforts mentioned above
Reviews and questions on any retail site are one of the only spaces (outside of social media) where the manufacturer gets to hear exactly what the customer thinks of a product. It’s essentially a digital focus group that often answers questions the brand may not have asked when testing the product (i.e. – alternative uses (good or bad), problematic packaging, etc.); all of this factors into whether the consumer ultimately buys the product, especially if the information they are looking for is not present or has not been responded to. Investment into managing the conversation surrounding your brand is often much smaller than traditional media or advertising, though the effort has great potential to impact and influence the consumer just as much. 86% of brands and retailers have seen reviews impact online sales, while 53% have seen the impact of reviews filter into in-store sales (Bazaarvoice).
The Bridge to Brick & Mortar
There is another facet of reviews that is key to point out in this conversation: the brick and mortar myth. It’s the idea that eCommerce and brick and mortar are separate entities, one having no impact on the other. The line between online and offline continues to blur when it comes to the topic of reviews, there is no separation, reviews are pervasive across all channels.
Nearly three out of four shoppers (71%) now access their phones while in stores to read product reviews, compare prices, get gift ideas and so on (Retail Dive). There’s also a reason that YouTube is flooded with tech review videos and Millennials have made careers out of reviewing products. The reason, put simply, is due to the demand of knowledge; people want to know what they’re about to purchase and trust reviews from reputable sources. Search a brand and likely on the first page of search results is a connection to at least one retail site that includes visible star ratings. It’s naïve to think that reviews don’t impact how consumers see a brand, even if they’re committed to buying in-store. This is an opportunity to assist the sale, by ensuring online reputation matches all the offline marketing efforts.
Which Reviews Get the Most Attention
Not all reviews were created equal. We’ve all read the reviews that are riddled with grammatical errors or spelling atrocities, these are often less persuasive to consumers. One-word reviews like, “great” or “sucks” are quite underwhelming and usually get scrolled past, but the golden tickets of reviews are the ones that offer the pros and the cons. And with this lies the reason behind ensuring that when you do start engaging your consumers, that you don’t ignore the 4 and 5-star reviews. Not only can great insight be gleaned from these reviews, but there’s a lot more to be said about positive interaction. A study conducted of 1,000 consumers found that 65% of consumers believed that retailers should be responding to every review, both positive and negative (retailwire.com). Think back to customer service 101: these are built-in fans taking time to express their gratitude for your product and ultimately advocate on your behalf – why wouldn’t you want to engage in that? Responding to positive reviews goes beyond being polite, here are three other benefits of responding to positive reviews:
- Attract new customers
- Boost retention rates
- Extract powerful insights
Managing the Conversation
All these points about reviews and questions are to covey one major message: Your brand should be responding to all reviews and questions!
Whether you hire an agency or manage it in-house, your consumers want to hear from you. Here are some key factors to responding:
- Find out what’s being said about your brand already (an easy place to start is by seeing what comes up in general search results, you’ve heard of this little search engine, Google, right?).
- Put together a team for on-going management of brand reputation on all online platforms (if you don’t have the internal bandwidth, reach out to us to learn more on how Sage Tree can support, we get out of bed for these things, no seriously, it’s our job!).
- Develop a tailored brand tone (don’t short-change your brand with boiler-plate responses, it’s a big turn off for consumers).
- Respond to it all (don’t shy away from the heavy lifting, there’s gold in extracting insights from both positive comments as well as negative consumer experiences).
- Don’t forget about the questions. This is where your consumers are in the process of deciding (remember: anyone can ask, and anyone can answer – think about who’s answering on your behalf if you’re not present!)
- Get going already (Seriously, what are you waiting for – a root canal?).
As Sage Tree’s eComm Brand Strategy Manager, Maya Lichter does more than advise brands on managing the conversation with their customers. With more than 15 years of customer and client relations behind her, she has infused this experience into the digital world. Driven by a hyper-focus on customizing solutions for brands, Maya has spent nearly three years empowering businesses not to shy away from what their customers are saying, but rather embrace it and use it to their advantage. When she’s not glued to her screen, Maya practices Krav Maga and is currently learning two languages.
Read More: Voice Commerce: The Newest eCommerce Channel