According to a recent study, 90 percent of consumers’ buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. And it doesn’t stop there. The same study found that 49 percent of consumers won’t buy from a retail store that rates fewer than 4 out of 5 stars. This makes it all the more important for business owners to publish the opinions of their customers.
The Internet has made it possible to spread reviews faster than the speed of light, and they pop up regardless of whether or not you’re actively encouraging them. However, if used strategically to grow a business, online reviews can become a powerful piece of social proof that prompts shoppers to action.
In this expert’s guide, I’ll show you how to get more online reviews and how to put them to work in your business. Let’s get started.
Encourage Reviews on Multiple Review Sites and on Social Media
Instead of just focusing on your own website, make it possible for customers to leave reviews on other websites that are relevant to your retail business. Make it easy for them to leave reviews for when they want to voice out their opinions about your brand.
Set up a business profile on third-party websites such as Google My Business, Yelp, Angie’s List, and Facebook, to name a few. Other industry-specific online directories your business might benefit from include CitySearch, TripAdvisor, and TrustPilot (with the latter having an added benefit of showing up on search engines, like Google and Bing).
Reward Your Customers
One of the best ways to encourage your customers to leave online reviews is by rewarding them for doing so. After all, you’re asking them to spend time and effort to write reviews, so incentivizing them could provide another positive experience with your business.
By offering discount codes and coupons, customers are more likely to share their feedback about a certain product or service. You can also host giveaways and raffles, where you can choose a winner from a pool of buyers who wrote online reviews for your business.
Incentivizing customers for writing online reviews is acceptable. What’s not acceptable is when you pay for a review just to make your business look good. IHateWritingEssays founder, David Anderson, who’s been combating the spread of fake product reviews for many years, advises that when rewarding customers, it should simply be for leaving a review based on their own opinions, not for writing one with an angle you specifically requested.
Offer Free Shipping & Delivery
If it won’t jeopardize your retail business, see if you can offer free or subsidized shipping methods for your customers.
According to a survey, 41 percent of shoppers are prompted to leave positive reviews to a shop that offers free shipping or delivery, while 68 percent find free shipping is an important factor to consider when trying out a retail store for the first time.
On the other hand, if this can do more harm than good to your business, consider offering an order minimum to entice shoppers to spend a certain amount to get free shipping.
Offer a Product Sampling Program
If you don’t have a lot of recent customers but you need to generate new online reviews, it’s probably time to consider product sampling. For retailers, product sampling is when you send to potential customers samples of products for which you’d like to generate online reviews. With it, you can build interest for a product and generate more valuable customer reviews.
A product sampling program is especially helpful in the following cases:
- You’re introducing a new product with no reviews at all. With product sampling, you can increase awareness of your product, plus drive feedback from your target market, right off the bat.
- When you’re selling seasonal products that need quick inventory turnover. Product sampling gives you a much-needed boost against the competition by increasing traffic and conversion.
- When you need to attract a more targeted audience for a product. If you’re currently not satisfied with the quality of the reviews you’re getting, product sampling can help pull in higher quality reviews.
Perhaps the best way to increase the number of reviews for your retail business is to straight-up ask your customers for them. They know how important reviews are for your business, and so as long as you offer top-notch products or services, you won’t have a difficult time asking them for feedback. But don’t wait long, as customers are more likely to leave reviews right after they make a purchase from your store.
So the next time a customer compliments your business in person, or via email or phone, go ahead and grab the opportunity to ask them to leave the same feedback in an online review, in social media, on your website, or in any other third-party review site they know.
The more online reviews a business has, the more credible the reviews for the retailer will be. This gives shoppers who discover your brand the quality they need and, in turn, boost your retail sales.
About the writer: Carol Duke is very keen on teaching students new, effective ways of learning. When not freelancing and blogging on marketing-related matters, Carol enjoys traveling, taking immense pleasure from visiting new countries.
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